Tailing a Monkey Man in Search of Healing


June 22, KOLKATA, INDIA (REUTERS) — Tales from the Kaliyuga prison house...

Thousands of people are flocking to an impoverished Indian village in eastern West Bengal state to worship a man they believe possesses divine powers because he climbs up trees in seconds, gobbles up bananas and has a "tail."

Devotees say 27-year-old villager Chandre Oraon is an incarnation of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman -- worshipped by millions as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion.

"He climbs up trees, behaves like a monkey and is a strict vegetarian, but he is no god and his condition is just a congenital defect," says Bhushan Chakraborty, the local medical officer.

Tucked away in a hamlet in Banarhat, over 400 miles north of Kolkata, the state capital, devotees wait for hours to see or touch Oraon's 13-inch tail, believing that it has healing powers.

Doctors said the "tail" -- made up of some flesh but mostly of dark hair -- was simply a rare physical attribute.

"It is a congenital anomaly, but very rarely do we find such cases," B. Ramana, a Kolkata-based surgeon, told Reuters.


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