A 12-year-old girl named Vijaya of Anaikkadu village in Thanjavur was killed on November 15 during the Cyclone Gaja when a tree was uprooted and fell on the barn she was sleeping in.
The cyclone had made landfall on November 15 near Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu.
According to an archaic tradition in the region, menstruating girls are not allowed to stay in their house for that period of time. Similarly, Vijaya, who got her first period three days before Gaja struck Tamil Nadu, was made to sleep in a room in the barn of her house. The animals were tied outside.
The tradition dictated that she had to stay in the barn for 16 days and could only enter after certain rituals were performed.
Vijaya was sleeping when an uprooted coconut tree fell on the thatched roof of the barn, killing her immediately. Her mother, who was sleeping beside her was injured during the accident and is currently undergoing treatment at Pattukottai government hospital, reports The News Minute.
"This is some tradition in this side of the state. When a girl comes of age, the family asks her to stay separately in a thatched hut for at least a week. She is asked to come inside the house only after the rituals are done on completion of a certain number of days. It varies from community to community. That is what happened with this girl," Pattukottai DSP Ganesamoorthy told TNM when asked about the incident.
The family had sent the 12-year-old girl outside despite multiple warnings by the Indian Meteorological Department to stay indoors and away from anything which could cause harm.
Till date, there are 45 who were killed due to different cyclone-related incidents.