The measles outbreak in a Bihar village has created much panic and confusion among the villagers who continue to sincerely worship the village deity hoping that the goddess would answer their prayers. Some people even feel that the disease is a divine curse commonly referred to as 'khasra' by local community members.
Around 120 children in Mirzapur village near the state capital are suffering from measles, and exhibit clear symptoms of the disease - fever, rash, hacking cough and watery eyes - but there are no doctors around to treat them.
'We have been organizing special prayers and worship at the village temple in the morning and evening to get rid of this disease,' said Awdesh Kumar Sharma, a resident of this village of 80 households.
Some villagers have stopped shaving, having a hair cut or using oil and have even postponed marriages and other social functions, said Umashankar Sharma, a villager. 'We have been following the age old practice,' he said.
'There are several families in the village who have more than three to four children affected,' said Indu Devi, another villager.
Village head Amar Singh said there were no medical facilities available in the village and alleged that the apathy of the local health authorities had forced people to take shelter in superstitions.
'The state government is free to claim that they are providing health facilities to everyone, but our village that is not far away from Patna is one place where there is no medical care available,' he said.
Some villagers claimed they had informed the nearby government health centre but no officials or doctors had visited them.