People have been flocking to a tiny village in Punjab to pay obeisance to a boy born with a seven-inch-long tail since his birth in 2001.
Though medical experts have described the formation of tail a congenital malformation, locals perceive it as a sign of divinity, claiming the child also shares other similarities with Hindu monkey god Hanuman.
Twelve-year-old Arshad Ali, who lives in Nabipur village in Paunjab’s Fatehgarh district, is known as Balaji among his devotees.
“Like Lord Hanuman, Ali has nine divine marks on his body. Besides the tail, he has a Padma sign on his foot and signs of Sita and Kada on his left arm. He is very special to them,” says Iqbal Qureshi, his maternal grandfather.
Ali was born in February 15, 2001, to Salma (33) and late Raj Mohammad. As the news about his “tail” spread, people started thronging to his house offering prayers, money and goods. Ali’s home since then has been converted into a makeshift temple where devotees queue up for his darshan.
Ali lives with his maternal grandfather Iqbal Qureshi (62), two unmarried maternal uncles and their three sisters. His father Raj Mohammad, a mason, died four years ago and mother Salma remarried and lives with her husband.
“We don’t ask people to donate money. We accept whatever they give. He (Arshad Ali) fulfills their wishes. He has been blessed with special powers by the almighty,” says Qureshi.
The tail, however, makes it difficult for Ali to walk and defecate. The Class VII student goes to a government senior secondary school at Sadhugarh.
Ali has been diagnosed with meningocele – a protrusion of the meninges through an opening in the spinal column, forming a bulge filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
His grandparents, with whom he is staying, had consulted doctors at the government medical college and hospital in Chandigarh five years ago but did not find a solution to get rid of the tail. “Doctors scared us saying the removal of the tail will pose a threat to his life. They asked Ali’s mother to sign a document which she refused,” Qureshi said. Qureshi is now seeking the state government’s aid for the surgery