RAJESHREE SISODIA, The Scotsman, Thu 22 Jun 2006
THOUSANDS of people are flocking to an impoverished Indian village to worship a man they believe possesses divine powers because he climbs trees in seconds, gobbles up bananas and has a "tail".
Devotees say Chandre Oraon, 27, is an incarnation of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, who is worshipped by millions as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion.
But Bhushan Chakraborty, a local medical officer, said: "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."
Doctors said the 13in tail, which is made up of some flesh but mostly of dark hair, was simply a rare "congenital anomaly".
Tucked away in Banarhat, about 400 miles north of Kolkata, the capital of the West Bengal state, devotees wait hours to see or touch Mr Oraon's tail, believing it has healing powers.
Villagers claim that touching Mr Oraon's tail has cured them of ailments including stomach and headaches, for which many give the illiterate tea-garden worker food, clothes and money.
Mr Oraon imitates apes by climbing up trees dressed only in a small cloth wrapped around his waist. When not busy blessing and healing devotees, he works as tea-picker in the village's Gendrepara Tea Garden.