All Lives Institute
All Lives Institute

Thalaikkooththal (HIIN=17)

For thousands of years, mostly in parts of Tamil Nadu, India, the tradition of Thalaikkoothal - the involuntary euthanasia of the elderly - has been practised. Poverty and custom, it is often said, drive the ritual. Villagers, conduct what is known as 'the last bath'. 'Thalaikkoothal'' is literally translated to 'thalai' meaning 'head' and 'koothal' 'giving a bath'. Beginning with a thorough oil-bath, children and relatives can 'get rid' of elderly parents. Certifying doctors record deaths as being from natural causes. See

Villagers call Thalaikkoothal the 'mercy killing', with the elderly person said to be too great a burden. Nowadays, Thalaikkoothal is often practiced secretly (senicide is now illegal). With more employment becoming available, the practice, conversely, is likely more prevalent than before. The new explanation is that no-one can remain at home, to care for elders.

At dawn, an elderly relative is massaged with a liquid mixture of coconut, castor and sesame oils. After a cold bath and being put to bed dehydrated, the compromised victim's temperature drops 5-6 C. Taking an excess of Coconut Water then bring on death. [Tender Coconut Water is a natural rehydrating drink that which has no added chemicals or harmful ingredients. Coconut water is often used, eg, to enhance health and physical performance.] For a person, totally run-down and distressed, the drink increases blood potassium levels. The electrolyte imbalance so creates havoc in the metabolism. Acute renal failure, irregular heartbeat, high fever and fits - all bring a merciful release from suffering. See the following links:

Other Methods of Killing

Tender (ie purportedly pure) Coconut Water is administered, followed by Tulsi Juice (or Holy Basil, called Tirunirrippachai in Tamil. [Tulsi is a sacred plant, used in India, for the last 5,000 years.] Then milk (a customary pre-death drink) is administered, with the relatives standing around chanting, 'Kasi', 'Kasi' (the Holy City, also called Varanasi, Benares, or Banaras - on the left bank of the Ganga - one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism).

If the Coconut Water and Juice fail, drinking mud mixed with water can cause death by the most painful of all methods. Mud from the victim's own land will either make the victim's soul happy, they say, or show attachment to material possessions. In other cases, hard pieces of murukku {a savoury snack of rice or urad dal, (black lentil) flour} are forced down a resisting individual's throat, causing asphyxiation. A more assertive 'milk therapy' can also ensure senicide. Following a period of starvation, cow's milk is forced down the throat - the nose being plugged - suffocation resulting. Use of a highly-toxic tablet, used for killing feral pigs, snakes and rats (sold as Quickphos or Celphos) needs no personal involvement. After ingestion (in tea), systemic toxic effects impact the lung, kidney, liver and heart (cardiac arrhythmias). An excruciating death follows, usually within 24 hours, from multiple shocks, myocarditis, acidosis and pulmonary edema.

Even as preparations for the Thalaikoothal are under way, families will be arranging for the funeral.

Some local Lore questionable

Some local people claim that they have stopped carrying out Thalaikoothal - there are now laws against it. However, senicide continues secretively and a wider family may be unaware of what is being done - eg with sleeping pills, pesticides or lethal injections. Injections of combinations of poisons to hand is a failsafe procedure. Ready to profit, dishonest medical practitioners will, eg, prescribe valium tablets, to cause drowsiness, slowed breathing, coma and death. Neither the pain, knowingly caused, nor the wishes of the old person are factors in decisions to 'get rid' of the parent.

In early 2010, an 80-year-old man in Virudhunagar (or Virudupatti) escaped when he heard his family arguing over how they would 'share' his land. Investigations revealed that some hundreds of cases likely occur, on an annual basis, in southern Tamil Nadu. It was said that, whilst killing aged parents was recently carried out by people in Virudhunagar, they welcomed a newborn baby into their family, with joy and celebration. The same festive mood marked both events. The Indian legal system has examined the right to life exhaustively. And the Tamil people have the same DNA as people anywhere: their experiences open the way to impartial and essential study of human psychology, which permits the killing of so many Vulnerable Human Cohorts.

Pramila Krishan, Journalist of Deccan Chronicale, came to know about the practices of Thalaikoothal, she was very shocked. And, the state government's old age pension, Rs.1,000 a month, has recently been denied to about 80 per cent of the estimated 30,000 elders in these villages. And after that in the year 1987, The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act came into exist making this pratha illegal as well as making it a criminal offence. Constitution validity of Thalaikoothal Article 21 of Indian Constitution grants Right to life only. Sati System where a women use to immolates herself on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband and this practice was prevalent in ancient India. But latter on after the revolutionary movement of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, founder of Brahmo Samaj finally able to abolished Sati Pratha in the year 1829