April 10, 2008 / 3:29 PM / 11 years ago

India two-faced baby's family refuses special care

SAINI, India (Reuters) - The family of an Indian baby born with two faces has refused special medical treatment for the infant, saying she is the incarnation of a Hindu goddess.

A girl born with two faces rests in her relative's lap at Saini village in Noida, some 55 km (34 miles) from New Delhi March 15, 2008. Picture taken March 15, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

The month-old girl suffers from what appears to be craniofacial duplication, an extremely rare congenital disorder in which part of the face is duplicated on the head.

Lali (red), born to a family of poor farm laborers in a village about 55 km (34 miles) east of New Delhi, has an extra pair of eyes, nose, and lips.

Media reports said she ate with both mouths and blinked all four eyes.

The anomaly gave the newborn god-like status in the village, with hundreds of people flocking to the family’s dilapidated brick house to worship her and seek blessings.

The family sees little to differentiate her from other babies and refused to take her to a specialist doctor.

“She is fine. She sleeps, eats and cries like other normal babies ... A local doctor said there is nothing wrong with the child,” Bhram Singh, Lali’s grandfather, told Reuters in this village of brick houses and wheat fields.

But he insists the infant is the incarnation of a Hindu goddess and points to the loudspeaker outside his house which blares religious hymns all day.

Villagers believe Lali, named that because of her bright red cheeks, is a form of Shakti, the Hindu goddess of power.

“The birth is a miracle and a good sign for the village,” said Daulat Ram, the village chief.

But the number of onlookers has dwindled as the “miracle” turns a month old on Friday, and few visitors now venture into the dusty lanes of Saini looking for the house where Lali lives.

Ram says that’s because everyone in the vicinity had satiated their curiosity.

“People are busy with the harvest season and have work to do. They won’t keep coming back at this time.”

(Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee and Jerry Norton)

krittivas.mukherjee@reuters.com; +91-11-4178-1008; krittivas.mukherjee.reuters.com@reuters.net

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