Pit-burial for polio curing

Pit-burial for polio curing

Faith healing

Children suffering from polio partially buried during the solar eclipse in Gulbarga on Wednesday. DH photo  Early on Wednesday morning, when millions across Asia watched the partial solar eclipse, Bilalabad, Naya Mohalla and Kharibowdi areas of this historic town took recourse to ‘eclipse therapy’ as a means to cure children afflicted with polio and paralysis.

So deeply ingrained is the superstition, primarily among some Muslims, that the parents subject their children to  inhuman torture, partially burying them while the eclipse is on. The parents say they are optimistic their children would be cured of polio, paralysis, and acute facial paralysis.

The therapy involves partially burying the children, including the affected limbs, in piles of manure.

On Tuesday, the manure dumps were cleaned of other refuse and the pits dug. On Wednesday morning, about 100 children with varying degrees of polio and paralysis gathered in Bilalabad, Naya Mohalla and Kharibowdi. Each was partially buried into a pit, a few minutes before the eclipse began. Those who suffered polio of the legs were buried till their abdomen, while children whose arms were polio-stricken were buried till their necks.

They wailed and cried, but nothing would move the parents who merely pacified them by offering biscuits and candies. A few of the hapless children, unable to struggle any more, fainted and the more resilient fell asleep. Once the children are removed from the pits, a massage oil is applied over their bodies.

The believers in ‘eclipse therapy’ are many. Nasir Ahmed from Hutti Gold Mines said his child’s left limb was bent and after burying him during the eclipse it got cured. Mohammed Hussain, a State government employee, said his eight-year-old child’s condition improved after the “third treatment”.

The popularity of ‘eclipse therapy’ has travelled as far as Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh from where believers reached Gulbarga to cure their children from the disease.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr S S Gubbi said there was absolutely no scientific basis for the practice or connection between the two.

He cautioned that children subjected to burial for a long duration may develop gangrene due to compression of vessels and muscles as vacuum is created in the pits in which they are buried.

Srishail Ghooli, president of Bharat Jnana Vijnana Samithi, a local rationalist society, termed the ‘eclipse therapy’ as “absolute superstition” and a misconception associated with the solar eclipse.

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