In a bizarre incident, a month-old girl baby in Manakuppam village near here was passed through holes in a tree thrice as part of a ‘cure’ for the baby which was refusing milk.
Sources said the baby was born in March to Arumugam (35) and Jayala (27) from a Dalit residential area. Due to complications in pregnancy, doctors and staff at Mundiyambakkam GH were not able to save Jayala.
The widower left the baby at his mother-in-law’s house and did not return. Since the day the baby was born, Perumal (70) and Chinnaponnu (61), parents of Jayala, have been taking care of her. They named her Jayalalitha. A week back, they spotted a toad that had fallen on the baby. Soon after the incident, sources said that Jayalalitha stopped taking milk and became weak.
Believing that the baby had been cursed by a toad, the aged couple discussed with priests and locals, and decided to pass the baby through the hollow of a tree. On Saturday evening, Perumal and his wife took the baby to a tamarind tree with a hollow and passed the child between the gap thrice.
Later, they performed poojas to the tree and returned home.
Speaking to Express, Chinnaponnu said they were farm labourers and that they couldn’t afford to treat the baby at a private hospital. After the ritual, the baby would be cured at the earliest, she said.
Speaking to the Express, Dr B Mary Punith, an expert in maternal issues and a surgeon, said the most probable reason was the absence of mother’s milk and feeding the newborn cow’s milk or milk powder could have been allergic to the baby’s digestive system. She said there was treatment available for the same and rubbished the belief of the curse.