An Indian teenager is worshipped as a god because he has a 7ins ‘tail’. Arshid Ali Khan, 13, has become a divine symbol in the state of Punjab. Locals have hailed him a reincarnation of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman – and refer to him as Balaji. However, Arshid has to use a wheelchair and he is considering having the ‘tail’ removed. He said: ‘This tail has been given to me by God. I am worshipped because I pray to god and the wishes of people come true.
‘I feel neither good nor bad about having a tail.’ Arshid lives with his grandfather, Iqbal Qureshi, and two uncles, after his father died when he was four and his mother remarried. Mr Qureshi, a music instructor, said: ‘When he spoke for the first time at the age on one all he spoke was the names of Gods from different religions. ‘It was that day I realised that he had something divine and godly about him.’ He added: ‘It does not matter whether we are Muslims or Hindus, I think there is just one path for spiritualism.’Arshid’s home has been converted into a temple where his devotees come to visit him to receive his blessings and touch his ‘tail’.
‘A lot of people’s wishes have come true after they have visited,’ claimed Mr Qureshi. ‘Sometimes there are childless couples who come to Balaji for help. He blesses them, and often they are then able to conceive.’However, Arshid often struggles to balance his time with his faithful devotees and attending school and playing with his friends. He said: ‘Mostly on weekdays I have to go to school but when I have a school holiday on Sunday around 20 to 30 people come to see me at my home.’ He added: ‘No one teases me. Everybody wants to see my tail and so they keep asking.’ Despite his supposed powers, Arshid has to use a wheelchair and suffers from an undiagnosed disorder.
Some doctors in India have told the family it is down to brittle bones while others have said it is due to the ‘tail’ growth protruding from his spine. Others have suggested he has a form of spina bifida called meningocele. This develops when membranes poke through a hole between the vertebrae, and it can lead to partial paralysis. This month he is due to see a doctor who has said he can successfully remove the appendage – but his family are sceptical and say they would rather he kept his tail than undertake a risky operation. But Mr Qureshi said: ‘It is for Balaji to decide. If he wants to get the tail removed, we do not mind.
‘He has trouble walking and so we are asking doctors what can be done.’ As for Arshid, he does not believe the removal of the tail will stop the crowds flocking to his house for blessings. He said: ‘Doctors can remove my tail – but people will continue to believe in me.
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