Bizarre baby ritual

Please the gods

During the ritual, a newly born child is bathed with boiling milk. And it is done by none other than the father of the child, who himself later  bathes with boiling milk. The ritual is witnessed by a large number of people and is generally performed in local temples amidst chanting of sholkas and mantras by a purohit (priest). Milk is boiled in earthen pots by the womenfolk, who sing religious sohars (folk song) and the father of the child on whom the ritual will be performed is garlanded. Later on the ‘cruel’ father picks up the infant and puts his legs in a pot of boiling milk. He also pours the boiling milk on the body of the little child. Later on the father pours the hot milk on himself amidsts cheers from the crowds of devotees. ‘‘The ritual is meant to please the gods so that the child is blessed”, said Baliram Bhagat a resident of  Varanasi.

Hospitalised after ritual
‘‘An auspicious occasion is chosen to perfom the ritual, which has a long tradition. My father and grand father also used to perform it'', Bhagat, who is nearing 60 years told Deccan Herald. The authorities however now treat the ritual as ‘inhuman’ and warn of stern action if some one is found performing it. Only recently Hira Bhagat was arrested by the Varanasi police for performing the ritual on his six-month old nephew Bholu in Mili Chak village .  The child suffered severe burn injuries on his legs, abdomen and chest and had to be hospitalised after the ritual. ‘‘It could cause serious damage to kidney, liver and other organs of the body', said Lucknow based physician Dr. Samarjeet Srivastava. Authorities in Varanasi said that they have issued strict orders to the police to crack down on those who perform this ritual.

‘‘The offenders should be arrested and prosecuted’’, said a police official.en the Vedic scholars have opposed the ritual terming it inhuman and cruel.  ‘‘The Hindu religion does not permit such rituals....such pratices are mostly localised and are observed as traditions...they should be banned’’, said R.S.Shastri, a Vedic scholar in Lucknow.
He, however, said that the only way to check such practices was to make people aware of the consequences. Sanjay Pandey in Lucknow

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