The Kodinhi Enigma
India is a country known for its plethora of traditions and rich cultural heritage, but what also lies here is a casket full of unsolved mysteries. One such is the ‘Twin city’ of Kerala, Kodinhi, which has grabbed eyeballs thanks to the unusual number of twins in the city. It would not be surprising if you happen to witness identical looking children at every nook and corner of this little place.
A tiny village in Kerela’s Mallapuram district, the village looks like any other. With only around 2000 families, this village has over 220 pair of twins. The number may not immediately astonish one, but if analyzed closely this statistic is unusually high for a place with such a low population. Statistics say that the normal twin production in the world is about six twins per 1000 births but in Kodinhi, the rate is about 6 times this numeral. What also spawns curiosity is the fact that India is one of the countries in the world with the lowest twin production.
The ‘twinning’ magic in the village of Kodinhi, Kerala, is something that has not only baffled people since the past sixty to seventy years, but has also led to a series of mysteries beckoning to be solved. Doctors from both India and abroad have been working on this case and are trying to conjure a convincing answer as to why this little corner in the country has an absurdly high rate of twin production.
Kodinhi is no longer Kodinhi. It is now the ‘Twin City’ of India. Every shop in this village has two identical copies of the same product, one for each twin. Clothes, toys and other goods are displayed in sets of two and this is a very common trend in the Mallapuram district, indicating the significance of twin births here.
Many people cite genetics as the reason behind this peculiar phenomenon. According to genetic sciences, people who are twins themselves or couples who have had twins in their ancestry have a higher chance of reproducing twins. However, there have been cases where infertile couples have had twins delivered after they relocated to this tiny place. Women and men from Kodinhi, when married to individuals from completely different places, cultures, and traditions also had a significantly higher chance of twin production as compared to a normal couple.
Dr. Sribiju, a doctor at Tirurangadi Taluk Hospital has taken keen interest in this phenomenon. In Dr.Sribiju’s opinion, there are about 300 pairs of twins although only 220 of them have been registered. He has been working hard to find out the exact reason behind this marvel since a long time. In the year 2008, The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad took up the Kodinhi twin case. They concluded that there was something in the genes that caused the locals to reproduce twins. However, Dr. Sribiju refutes this theory and states that had it been genetic, it wouldn’t have affected people who didn’t belong to the village. He cites cases where people have relocated to Kodinhi and then delivered a healthy set of twins.
In Dr Sribiju’s opinion, there is a chemical component in the region that is causing the female ovary to produce dizygotic eggs and thus lead to the reproduction of twins. However, this is also just a mere theory and needs complete extensive research and study to reveal the truth behind this apparent magic.
The locals have their own theories and logic to explain this phenomenon. According to them, the yam and root vegetables that are commonly consumed by the residents increases the estrogen levels which probably leads to an increased number of twin and even triplet births.
Similar cases have been seen in different parts of the world including Brazil, Nigeria and Vietnam. Igbo-Ora in Nigeria has also seen this peculiar wonder. Research found a certain relation between a chemical present in the igbo-ora women and a particular tuber which could perhaps give an answer as to why this region sees so many twin births. Miraculously, a relation like this hasn’t been observed in the tiny village of Kodinhi making things even more baffling.
An international team of doctors who are working on the Brazilian wonder also visited Kodinhi. Research is ongoing and a study has been organized by an international twin consortium formed jointly by Kerala University of Fisheries and Oceanic Studies (KUFOS) Kochin, Centre for Molecular Biology of CSIR, Hyderabad, Institute of Tropical Medicine, University of Tubingen, Germany and University College, London, exclusively to study Kodinhi. The village also witnessed the formation of ‘The Twins and Kins’ association which focuses on bringing attention and awareness about problems affecting people with multiple births.
Of course, the mystery is yet to be solved. A phenomenon that remains an enigma – The kodinhi mystery has bewildered one and all.