Reuters Kolkata, June 20, 2006
Thousands of people are flocking to a village in West Bengal to worship a man they believe possesses divine powers because he climbs up trees in seconds, gobbles up bananas and has a "tail".
Devotees say 27-year-old villager Chandre Oraon is an incarnation of the Hindu monkey Lord Hanuman -- worshipped by millions as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion.
"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," says Bhushan Chakraborty, the local medical officer.
Tucked away in a hamlet in Banarhat, over 650 km north of Kolkata, devotees wait for hours to see or touch Oraon's 13-inch (35 cm) tail, believing that it has healing powers.
Doctors said the "tail" -- made up of some flesh but mostly of dark hair -- was simply a rare physical attribute.
"It is a congenital anomaly, but very rarely do we find such cases," B Ramana, a Kolkata-based surgeon said.