UP: 6-year-old now 22, all through seated in same posture, at same spot
It was 2002 and a severe drought had hit Uttar Pradesh. In Banua, a dusty hamlet, some 20 km from the district headquarters of Etah, a six-year-old girl began a fast to appease the rain god. Lo and behold, it began to rain two days later. Other girls who had joined her in prayer, went back home two days after their prayers were answered. But Mansa did not.Updated: Oct 20, 2018 15:53 IST
It was 2002 and a severe drought had hit Uttar Pradesh. In Banua, a dusty hamlet, some 20 km from the district headquarters of Etah, a six-year-old girl began a fast to appease the rain god. Lo and behold, it began to rain two days later. Other girls who had joined her in prayer, went back home two days after their prayers were answered. But Mansa did not.
Mansa must be around 22 now but the woman continues to be seated there in the same meditative posture, even as a humble, temple-like structure has been built around her in her name. Mansa is now Mansa Devi. Believers come from far and wide to have ‘darshan’ of the ‘living idol,’ some out of curiosity and most out of faith.
- Etah Chief Medical Officer Dr Ajay Agrawal says that for any human being, even the most accomplished Yoga expert, it is not possible to stay alive without drawing some energy from food, etc. “But the overall story about the girl, especially the fact that nobody claims to have ever seen her eat food or do any other activity during the last 16 years , is truly amazing and miraculous,” he said.
- Agrawal, however, insists that a proper investigation needs to be done to unravel the mystery. “For example, close circuit cameras can be installed around the place for a few days,” he suggested, adding hurriedly, “But probing such phenomena is often not possible as they are associated with people’s faith also.”
“A lot of people come here, especially on Mondays, from various places trying to appease Mansa Devi for different reasons and what thrills the regular visitors most is the fact that they find her sitting in exactly the same posture whenever they come,” says Lodhamai village panchayat pradhan Vijay Bahadur.
But sitting like a statute in a lotus-like position with the head lowered and eyes closed inside a small temple, Mansa Devi does not speak to or look at anyone. She is unmindful of visitors ringing temple bells and training their cameras and cellphones to capture her. However, she has a different set of clothes (lehnga-chunari) on every day, her face looks radiant and long clean shiny hair hangs loosely around her shoulders.
Her family members, who have moved from the middle of the village to the outskirts near the temple, say that all they do is put a plate of fruit inside the canopy every evening for her to eat.
The most intriguing aspect in the entire affair, however, is that nobody has ever seen her even budge an inch from her place, leave alone see her eat or doing any other daily activity that any normal human being compulsorily must. Breathing is perhaps the only activity she can be ‘seen’ doing.
“I have been posted in the Lodhamai village panchayat for the last six months and have frequently visited the Mansa Devi temple. But I have always found the young woman seated in exactly the same position. I have never seen her even move,” asserts, Beena Kumari, an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM).
“We have never seen her fall sick—never seen her sneeze or cough,” she said, and questions, “Do you think it is possible for any normal person not to fall ill in 15 long years”?
It is not that sceptics have not tried spying on her before they surrendered. “People, especially those who were jealous of the girl’s recognition and fame, often woke up at all odd hours of the night in a bid to catch Mansa Devi red-handed but they failed,” said, Manish Kumar, a neighbour and young boy who is preparing for group C competitive examinations. “There have been round-the-clock recitals of Akhand Ramayan at the temple for days together but nobody has ever spotted the girl moving,” adds Longshree, a septuagenarian woman, who lives at a stone’s throw from the Mansa Devi temple.
Block development officer Phool Singh Yadav, who visited the Banua hamlet to verify if the girl was a beneficiary of any government scheme, said, “No Aadhaar, no PAN card, or voter card has been issued in the name of Mansa. Neither does her name figure in the ration card.”
Yadav said that there was certainly some supernatural force behind the girl otherwise it would not be possible for anyone to sit for 16 years at the same place in the same posture like a statue, and yet be breathing.
Mansa is the second of five siblings. Her elder sister, Manisha, is a constable in the Central Reserve Police Force, while Sangeeta, the younger sister is a graduate in science and looking for a government job. Two younger brothers go to school.
Mansa, according to Mahesh Chandra Yadav, the father and a homeguard, was an absolutely normal child playing around like any other child till the drought struck in 2002. “She was six years old when the drought took place. Out of play, she and a few friends sat in field on the outskirts of the village to please the rain god. Though rains did come after two days, Mansa refused to get up despite a lot of persuasion,” Yadav recalls.
He said that the girl remained seated day and night in the open, braving the vagaries of nature and possible attack by creatures for three years, till the owner of the farmland she was occupying objected and insisted she be removed from the field. “Then we shifted her to our own piece of land. Devotees pitched in to build a temple around her but the canopy she sits under was raised over her head without disturbing her in any manner,” he claims.
“Now, we have also built a house near the temple as we cannot afford to leave her alone. After all, she is our daughter,” adds Guddo Devi, Mansa’s mother, speaking from behind a long ghoonghat (veil). The little offerings in cash or kind that come at the temple are apparently used by Mansa’s family.
Yadav, the BDO, believes that miracles do happen and supernatural powers do exist in the world. “One should accept such phenomena and leave it at that,” he said.