Indian Village Plants 111 Trees Every Time a Girl Child is Born

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While a vast majority of Indians continue to prefer sons, a small village in the Indian state of Rajasthan has its own unique tradition of celebrating their daughters. Since 2006, the residents of Piplantri village, in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district, have been planting a whopping 111 trees to celebrate the birth of a girl!

Given that an average of 60 girls are born each year, the villagers have managed to plant over 250,000 trees so far – including varieties like Neem, Indian Rosewood, and Mango. The community of 8,000 residents is also dedicated to making sure that the trees survive and attain fruition as the girls grow up.



Indians Take Exam Cheating to New Heights by Scaling School Walls to Help Friends and Relatives

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Cheating at exams is an age-old phenomenon, but the practice literally scaled new heights last week in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. News reports showed how parents and relatives of 10th-grade students climbing the walls of a school building to hand cheat sheets to the students taking their year-end exams inside!

Photographs and videos of the stupefying event went viral in India, even as police officers stood watching helplessly. Some videos also showed inspectors slapping young students as they pulled out cheat sheets from under their tables. It seems that several students were able to smuggle textbooks and notes into the exam centers despite tight security.

Cheating is apparently common in rural areas of the state, where the competition is fierce and opportunities are few. Just last month, dozens of 12th-grade students were expelled and parents detained in cases of cheating. But the sight of parents risking their life and limb to help their kids has truly shocked the nation.



7-Year-Old Wonder Kid Nicknamed “Google” Knows Pretty Much Everything

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Seven-year-old Kautilya Pandit is what you would call a walking, talking encyclopedia, with the capacity to absorb information ranging from geography to biology and current affairs. He also dabbles in economic statistics, politics and pretty much any other subject you can think of. Within three months, the little kid managed to memorize information about 213 countries, their population, GDP, source of income, currency, religion, culture and heritage.

Kautilya, a resident of Kohand Village in Haryana, India, is now a national celebrity – he regularly travels to schools across India, answering live questions from other kids, on stage. In one of his latest appearances, he was asked unusual questions like the total surface area of Vatican City, the GDP of the UK and more. He was able to answer them all with ease.



Shani Shingnapur – India’s Village without Doors

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Believe it or not, there’s a village in India where none of the 300-odd buildings – homes, educational institutions, and even banks – have doors. Cash is stored in unlocked containers, as are valuable pieces of gold jewellery.

Even most of the public toilets in Shani Shingnapur village square have no doors. “For reasons of privacy and following requests by women, we recently agreed to put a thin curtain near the entrance, but not doors because that would go against our belief,” said village shopkeeper Parmeshwar Mane.

Some villagers do put up loose door panels against their door frames, but this is done only at night, to keep out wild animals and stray dogs. The only problem with the lack of doors is that there’s nothing to knock on to announce your arrival. But the villagers have a solution for this, too. “Just shout out and somebody will come to the door,’’ one of the villagers, Rani, explained.

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Indian Man Finally Gets Fired after Skipping Work for 24 Years

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An employee of India’s Central Public Works Department (CPWD) has been found guilty of ‘wilful absence of duty’ – believe it or not – for the past 24 years! Assistant executive engineer A.K. Verma went off sick from work one morning in 1990, and he simply never returned.

“He went on seeking extension of leave, which was not sanctioned, and defied directions to report to work,” the department told the media last Thursday. Verma is said to have joined the CPWD in 1980, and risen to the rank of executive engineer in 1990.

Although he came under investigation in 1992, he was only fired this month. Formal proceedings to dismiss him did not start until 2007, and it took seven more years for the department to actually reach a decision to sack him. Ultimately, Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu ordered his dismissal, in order to ‘streamline the functioning of the CPWD and to ensure accountability’.

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This Guy Has Been Driving Backwards for the Last 11 Years

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Indian taxi driver Harpreet Dev is well-known in his hometown of Bhatinda, Punjab, for his amazing reverse driving skills. The 30-year-old has been driving his cab in reverse for the past 11 years. Harpreet is so used to it now that he says he doesn’t trust himself to drive forwards anymore! He even has a special government license that allows him to drive backwards in any state in the northern part of India.

Harpreet’s passion for reverse driving started in 2003, when his faithful Fiat Padmini  got stuck in reverse gear late one night. “I was outside the city, I had no money, so I thought of driving the car backwards until Bhatinda,” he said. “Then I drove backwards and later on I gained confidence.”

That’s when he realised that he was really on to something, so the next morning he painted the words ‘Back Gear Champion’ on the side of the car and redesigned its gearbox to have four reverse gears and only one forward.

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Hundreds of Indians Fast to Death Every Year in Ancient Santhara Ritual

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Fasting is a common religious practice in several cultures across the world, but few are as hardcore as ‘Santhara’. The exacting ritual is a part of Jainism, one of the oldest religions in the world, and it involves participants making an oath to stop eating until they literally die of starvation. According to the Jains, this is a surefire way to purge oneself of bad karma and achieve ‘Moksha’ – liberation from the worldly cycle of death and reincarnation.

Every year, hundreds of Jains across India take up the onerous oath – some are monks, others are ordinary people. Interestingly, over 60 percent of the participants are female, and it is believed that women are more strong-willed than men. The practice is more popular with Jains who are ill or dying, but healthy people are also known to participate.

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Indian Hindu Leaders Launch Beauty Products Made with Cow Dung

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The Visha Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing non-governmental organization in India, has recently launched a line of beauty products containing two very special ingredients – cow dung and gau mutra.

“The use of gau mutra in medicines and beauty products will help farmers and prevent them from selling cows. Ayurveda talks about use of cow dung to prevent pimples. But people are reluctant to use dung, which is why we are making beauty products out of it,” VHP leader Venkatesh Abdeo said. Just to be clear, gau mutra is not some miracle plant but plain old cow urine, which has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

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8-Year-Old ‘Human Calendar’ Can Accurately Calculate Any Day-Date Configuration until 2068

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At first glance, Aryan Parab looks like a regular eight-year-old kid; he likes going to school and playing football with his mates. But ask him a few questions about future dates and you’ll realize that he’s actually a mathematical genius with superhuman computational skills. The boy can work out the day on which any date falls, up to the year 2068, within seconds – faster than his friends can open their iPhone calendars!

Aryan lives in Mumbai, India, with his parents who work as software engineers. He discovered his unique skill earlier this year when he was talking about birthdays and found that he could accurately predict the days of his friends’ birthdays several years into the future. His unique talent has now made him popular as a child prodigy and he regularly entertains audiences with his precise predictions.

His third-grade teachers say that Aryan is also brilliant with numbers. According to his grandfather Suryakant Bhosle, “He loves numbers, and is constantly playing around with dates in his head and coming up with statistics. He is gaining more insight over time, and locks himself up in his room during summer vacation to draw calendars.”

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Indian Temple Has 600 Barbers Shaving 20,000 Heads a Day

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The Seshachalam Hills in Southern India are home to one of the nation’s most popular pilgrimage destinations – the town of Tirumala. Each year, millions of pilgrims display their devotion for the presiding deity, Sri Venkateswara, in the most bizarre fashion – by tonsuring their heads!

There’s actually a rather interesting story behind the unusual practice – according to ancient lore, Sri Venkateswara is believed to have taken a loan in order to fund his own wedding celebrations. The debt was so huge that he continues to pay it off to this day, and requires assistance in doing so. And his devotees are more than happy to help by donating their hair to the cause.

The local temple receives donations from at least 20,000 devotees each day, so they’ve employed a whopping 600 barbers to get the job done. The tonsuring takes place in a specially designated building that’s separate from the main temple, and also at 16 smaller locations around town. Thousands of pilgrims sit cross-legged on the floor with their heads bent forward, as the barbers work their scissors and razors at lighting speed.

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The Most Remarkable Newspaper in the World Is Written by a Bunch of Indian Street Kids

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‘Balaknama’, or ‘Children’s Voice’, is a quarterly publication that’s completely written and run by children living in New Delhi’s slums. With a readership in the tens of thousands, the newspaper is being hailed as one of the most impressive in the world.

Backed by the Indian non-profit organisation Chetna, Balaknama publishes contributions from a federation of Indian children who work for a living and live off the street. It started with only 35 child-contributors, but the stories come from various Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh.

Written in Hindi, the paper covers a range of serious subjects that highlight the problems faced by Indian street children. A typical issue would contain articles related to topics like police brutality, child marriage, and illegal child labor. It’s not what you’d expect from a children’s newspaper, but Balaknama is known for reporting hard truths and harsh realities.



World’s Largest Turban – Indian Man Wears Headgear That Weighs 100 Pounds

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Avtar Singh Mauni, from Punjab, India, is the proud owner of the world’s largest turban. The devout Sikh’s enormous headgear consists of no less than 645 meters of fabric, weighing 100 pounds. It took him a staggering 16 years to assemble, and he needs to spend six hours just to put it on. And you thought you had problems getting ready in the morning!

The 60-year-old is rather proud of his unusual, multi-colored turban; he declared that he will continue to wear it until he has no strength left in his limbs to carry it. “I don’t consider it a burden. I’m most happy when I wear it,” he explained.

In fact, Avtar Singh is so used to the turban that he finds it odd when he isn’t wearing it. “On the rare times I don’t have my turban on, I keep getting this feeling of being incomplete, that some part of me is missing,” he said. “I get afraid that I may fall and I keep wondering ‘have I lost something, where is my turban?’”



Indian Priests Smash Coconuts on Devotees’ Heads in Bizarre Good Luck Ritual

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Every year, thousands of devotees travel to a remote village in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu to put themselves through a gruesome ritual that they hope will bring them good health and success. Believe it or not, men, women and even children willingly permit priests to smash hard coconuts on their skulls!

Breaking coconuts on a sacred stone as an offering to the deity is a common practice in South Indian temples. But breaking them on one’s own head is quite rare, and viewed as an extreme display of devotion. Several devotees squat on the floor in a line, waiting patiently as the temple priests approach with a sack of coconuts. One priest holds the heads firmly, while the other one brings down the coconuts without hesitation. The whole process is completed in a matter of minutes.

Some devotees can be seen wincing in pain as the coconuts come crashing on to their heads. Some massage their heads, while others promptly collect the broken pieces as holy offerings. Surprisingly, there are a few who don’t flinch at all – these people are often in a deep meditative state of prayer. Nonetheless, medical staff are always present to tend to serious injuries.



The Amazing Story of the Suicidal Man Who Became India’s Famous Monkey Climber

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Several years ago, young Jyothi Raj was a depressed man – he chose a rock and decided to climb it before plunging to his death. The huge rock presented a dilemma – there was no easy route to reach the top. But Jyothi Raj managed to scale it anyway, by observing and emulating the monkeys around him. And when he got to the top, he was rewarded with cheers and claps from passers-by who had observed his feat. He didn’t want to die anymore. Instead, he became India’s most famous monkey climber.

“A monkey is the world’s best climber. Humans came from monkeys. But I have it backwards. I’m turning into a monkey from being a human,” Jyothi said with a smile.

Jyothi Raj’s story is a rather sad one – he was born to a poor family in the state of Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Fearing punishment at the age of seven, he ran away from home to Bagalkot, in the nearby state of Karnataka, which he made his new home. “I don’t remember how I ended up here,” he said.



What Is It with Wealthy Indian Men and Solid Gold Shirts?

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When we wrote about Datta Phuge, an Indian businessman who owns a 3.2-kilogram solid gold shirt, we thought that his was a unique story. But it turns out there are other rich men in India obsessed with gold – like Pankaj Parakh, a businessman and local politician who celebrated his 45th birthday by gifting himself a 4-kilogram gold shirt worth over $200,000.

Pankaj is a textile magnate from the town of Yeola, near Mumbai city, who made his millions through his clothing empire. He now wants to make sure the rest of the world knows about his success. And what better way to flash his wealth than by wearing it? So he commissioned the solid gold shirt that he wore on the occasion of his birthday, last Friday.

The yellow metal shirt was designed by Bafna Jewellers in the nearby city of Nashik. The garment was then meticulously executed at Shanti Jewellers in Mumbai, by a team of 20 select artisans who spent 3,200 hours over the past two months ‘sewing’ the shirt.



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