Lakshmi Tatma: National Geographic on the True Meaning of Christmas
Some of you may have heard of Lakshmi Tatma, the 2-year-old Indian girl born with eight limbs. In 2008, NGC, the National Geographic Channel, premiered their story on Lakshmi and her family’s decision to help their daughter lead a normal life. NGC will air an update on Lakshmi, The Girl With Eight Limbs Revisited, and the journey she has faced with her family since her controversial operation.
For the villagers of Lakshmi’s remote Indian village, Bihar, her condition helped them make the decision to declare the young child as the incarnation of Lakshmi, Hindu Goddess of Wealth and Fortune. To doctors around the globe, Lakshmi was suffering from a half-formed, parasitic conjoined twin, causing her to have two sets of arms and two sets of legs.
Since the surgery, the villagers claim that there is a curse on Lakshmi, and perform an exorcism upon her arrival to her native land.
The people of Bihar and her relatives believe that the way Lakshmi was born was a blessing. For the family, Lakshmi’s steps to a normal childhood life are what they should truly be thankful for.
Since Lakshmi’s surgery, the Tatma family struggles to win back their local villagers’ affection, while they work hard to maintain a healthy balance between “a physically and psychologically healthy life” for the young Indian child. The 2-year-old went through a great deal of pain and suffering to get back to the smiles that once brightened her face. Extensive surgery, recovery and emotional adjustment went into fixing a girl and bringing her a new life.
Lakshmi’s parents, Shambu and Poonam, cared for Lakshmi from her birth and supported the villagers in their belief that their daughter was a goddess to be worshiped. Poonam even believed that she had a dream that she “had to make a temple” for Lakshmi. She believed her baby was a fulfilled prophecy, and that the dream must have meant that her daughter was indeed a goddess.
With much convincing and explaining Lakshmi’s condition and the problems she would face, renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Sharan Patil encouraged the family to choose the surgery by offering to provide his skills at no charge. Several others proceeded with charitable gifts to help the healing child.
Today, after a succession of successful surgeries, religious persecution, an exorcism, a temple to immortalize the memory of Lakshmi Tatma in the village of Bihar, and a miraculous recovery in the efforts to end a medical curse and the beginning of a new life, NGC will offer an interesting look into a brave family’s journey in the spirit of the true meaning behind the holidays.
This story encompasses all of the themes surrounding Christmas—a miracle at birth, a difficult journey filled with hope and faith, a quest for acceptance, a promise for peace, and the gifts and acts of love and kindness. This is the type of story that reminds us all to accept the good, reach out to those in need, and share in the celebration of the blessings we often need reminded of.
Whether or not NGC was intentional in their act of airing Lakshmi’s story as great PR for the true meaning of Christmas, I think you would agree that their update is timely and will fill the hearts of many with hope, love and peace this holiday season.
For more information about Lakshmi Tatma, her surgeries, the people involved, and scheduled airing dates of this amazing story, visit The Girl With Eight Limbs Revisited on the National Geographic Channel’s official Website.