Photo: The Times of India
Two Indian sisters recently got the shock of their lives after their 82-year-old mother showed up at their doorstep 40 years after they had laid her body to rest on the Ganges river, following a cobra bite.
It all started on a summer day in 1976, when 42-year-old Vilasa, a woman from Bidhoo village, India’s Kanpur district, went out into the fields to collect fodder for the family animals, as she had done countless time before. Only this time, she unknowingly got to close to a black cobra snake, and got bit. Upon returning home, her family immediately took her to a traditional healer, but his methods failed to alleviate the effects of the venom, and Vilasa soon lost consciousness.
Thinking she had died, her family wrapped the woman’s body in cloth, placed it on a wooden float and released into the sacred Ganges river, hoping it would bring her to life. Open-air cremation is practiced by millions of Indian Hindus, with the ashes of their loved-ones then scattered in holy bodies of water, but in the case of snake bites, some believe that the sacred river can wash away the poison from the body and bring the person back to life. It wasn’t something Vilasa’s family actually expected, though.
But, as unlikely as it might seem, the woman did come back from the dead, sort of. As it turns out, her body was spotted floating on the Ganges by a couple of fishermen from a village close to Kannauj district border. They noticed she wasn’t actually dead, and took her to a local temple to be treated. But, although Vilasa eventually made a full recovery, she had lost her memory, and couldn’t tell her rescuers who she was, where she had come from, or how she had ended up there.
With no memory of her past life, Vilasa remained at the temple for the next 40 years. As fate would have it, the woman suddenly began to remember bits of her past last month, and started talking to a girl she had befriended at the temple about it. She told her uncle, who happened to know someone in Vilasa’ home village. This person, an 82-year-old man called Chetram, told him he knew the woman and had actually attended her water burial 40 years ago.
“My mother said that she had lost her consciousness and her memory. A few days ago, she recalled the incident and narrated it to a girl who discussed the matter with her uncle. The girl’s uncle contacted one Chetram (82) who too recalled that he had attended Vilasa’s funeral. Later, Chetram contacted us and apprised us of the development,” the woman’s elder daughter, Ram Kumari, told The Times of India.
It all started to make sense, so Vilasa was taken back to her home, where her daughters were shocked to see her standing outside their house. “We immediately recognized her from a birthmark,” the woman’s younger daughter, Muni, said.
It sounds like a story out of a Bollywood movie, but I guess sometimes miracles do happen.