An Indian blacksmith family has 140 members with webbed fingers that look like ‘snake’s hood’ that they believe is the result of God’s curse.
From the 85-year-old head of the family to an infant, the members of Kannathu clan from a small village in Alappuzha in southern India have been born with the webbed fingers for over the course of two generation.
Some have three fingers fused, others have only two fingers joined together.
And while the condition-known as Syndactyly, in which fingers or toes are joined together, can be treated surgically, the family feels going the medical way for correcting the fingers can bring bad omen to them.
Sarasu Kannathu, 70, the oldest woman in the family says: “We do not even see surgery as an option. Despite our fingers fused together, we live a normal life and do not face any difficulty in day to day chores.
“While many have suggested us to get them corrected, we have a strong feeling that if we undergo surgery something bad will happen to us.”
Another family member Lakshmi added: “I can cook, chop vegetables, wash clothes and utensils and even stitch with my fingers, I have never faced any trouble. It is because I was born this way and I have learnt how to use them correctly, however, I miss wearing rings.”
The bizarre condition started some 90 years ago and has been passed on from generations to generations in the family with one of the daughters recently giving birth to a baby with similar fingers.
And Sarasu believes it is only going to continue.
“It will pass on to coming generations. It has been part of the family and we believe it will always be. While people do not understand the condition first, they see it as divine when we explain why we have this.
“Our grandfather used to tell it started after a neighbour cut off a tree at the sacred grove. Ever since, the children of our family are born with webbed hands.
“One relative had lost his hearing sense after he had a surgery to correct his fingers. We do not want to meet with the same fate by hurting or angering the Gods,” added Sarasu.
To appease the Snake God, the family religiously organise a big prayer ceremony every year at their ancestral home that has a sacred grove and they believe the Gods reside there.
“It is only because of the worship, we have never faced any troubles despite the deformed fingers. I haven’t faced any physical issues and I can work as any other normal person,” said 48-year-old Girishkumar, who has webbed hands and works as a JCB driver.
The family has now well accepted their condition and feel proud to show them off to people who come from far away places just to have a glimpse of them.