Odisha couple forced to perform symbolic last rites of son with rare disorder
An ostracised couple in Odisha’s Ganjam district was forced to perform symbolic last rites of their seven-year-old son, who is suffering from an immunological disorder, as their neighbours consider the child a bad omen.
The boy suffers from giant congenital melanocytic nevi that caused hairy growth on his face, chest and right hand. He developed wounds all over his body after he underwent surgery in 2018. After the child was discharged following fresh hospitalisation on December 29, the neighbours asked the parents to conduct the symbolic last rites.
“After we came back, the villagers tonsured him under a tree. They said my child would bring bad luck to the village. Then a symbolic ritual was conducted like it is done when someone dies,” said the child’s mother, Mamata Nayak.
His father, Ram Chandra Nayak, said he was asked not to touch him and keep him under a tree. “I was asked by the villagers to host a community feast as part of the ritual. As I had no money, I borrowed ₹10,000 to host the feast. Only after that, the villagers allowed me to keep him at home.”
Paediatrician Alekh Pradhan, who treated the boy, said he suffers from immunological deficiencies. “There were maggots on his head and there were abscesses in his body filled with pus. I could bring his infection under control. But he needs proper treatment, and it can be done in hospitals like AIIMS [All India Institute of Medical Sciences].”
Ganjam district collector Vijay Amrita Kulange they have sanctioned ₹10,000 for the boy’s treatment. “The sub-collector advised him to apply for assistance from CMRF [Chief Minister’s Relief] Fund.” Kulange said the father did not complain about ostracisation or purification ritual.
“I have instructed the Tahasildar and inspector of the local police station to inquire and report.”