Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Devoted Indian Son Touches India’s Heart

KATHMANDU, NEPAL, February 8, 2009: For over 13 years, Kailash Giri has been pilgrimaging on foot from one Hindu shrine to another, carrying his blind 83-year-old mother, Kirti Devi, on his shoulders. He is being hailed as a modern-day Shravan Kumar, an epic character hailed as the perfect son.

Wearing the saffron dhoti favoured by Hindu pilgrims, his torso bare and his long hair tied atop his head, Giri carries a bamboo pole on his shoulders from which are slung two wicker baskets. One contains his mother; the other, balancing her weight, contains their meager possessions, topped by a photo of his father, Ram Shripal, who died when Giri was 10.

The frail 36-year-old, a native of Wargi villag in Madhya Pradesh, has become an object of admiration and awe in Nepal’s Janakpur town in southern Dhanusha district where he has arrived to offer worship at the famed Ram and Janaki temple. Mother and son are penniless, but everywhere the villagers offer them food and shelter. Many garland Kirti Devi and touch her in the hope that their own sons will be as filial as hers.

Giri explains that as a young child, he fell from a tree and broke his hand, and it healed due to his mother’s incessant prayers. She pledged to the Gods that she would offer her thanks at a holy shrine; so as an adult, Giri began carrying her to shrines all over India to fulfill her vow. In addition, Giri–who has remained a bachelor to care for his mother– has another mission: He wants to send out the message that parents are a son’s gods and should be served to the best of one’s ability.

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