It is not an achievement that can readily be savoured by his nearest and dearest. But Kailash Singh has as good a claim as any to the accolade of world’s smelliest man – after refusing to wash for more than 37 years. Mr Singh, 65, has not bathed or cut his 6ft-long dreadlocks since 1974, shortly after he married.
Explaining his unconventional decision, Mr Singh claimed a priest guaranteed him a much-prized son and heir if he followed the advice.
Despite neighbours joking the sweaty farmer would be lucky persuade his wife to have any children at all, his religious guidance clearly failed – he has seven daughters.
Mr Singh spends his days tending cows in 47C heat, yet the only ‘cleansing’ he does allow himself is a ‘fire bath’ each evening, which involves smoking marijuana, praying to the Hindu Lord Shiva and dancing around a bonfire.
His long-suffering family admit they did once tried to force him into a stream. ‘He fought us off and ran away,’ said wife Kalavati Devi, 60. ‘We’ve tried several times since to force him to have a shower but he puts up such a fuss. ‘He says he’d rather die than take a bath and only a son could change his mind. It has been so many years now I’ve got used to it.’
His wife even threatened to stop sleeping with him if he didn’t bath, but she gave in first, insisting she should be loyal and put up with the stench. The father-of-seven spends all day working up a sweat tending cows and working in his fields near the Indian holy city of Varanasi, on the banks of the River Ganges, where temperatures regularly top 47C. He admits neighbours in the rural village of Chatav make fun of him but said he is following god’s will.
‘Children tease and shout that I don’t wash when I ride my bicycle through the village,’ he said. ‘There are many people who have a poor character that mock me for not washing. They do not understand my decision but I will not change my mind as it is god’s choice, not mine.
‘My wife doesn’t like it either but she must bear all the hardships I have to bear. Besides, I take a fire bath in the evenings and that gets rid of all the sweat.’
Mr Singh’s wife claims she has tried everything to make her smelly husband clean up his act without success. ‘I abused him and started crying when he told me about his senseless decision,’ she said. ‘I even threatened to stop sleeping with him but he is my husband so there was little I could do about it.’
Youngest daughter Pooja, 16, even says her father’s strange decision has made her more popular. ‘My schoolmates are curious to see and meet my papa,’ she said. ‘They keep asking me how he can live for so many years without washing and want to see for themselves. ‘Earlier I would be angry but there’s nothing we can do as he doesn’t listen to anyone. ‘In this hot summer I want to shower at least twice a day but he doesn’t want to take even one. I don’t know how he manages to live.’ The only contact with water Kailash has is to wash his mouth and hands.
‘I have no son, so I will never wash again,’ he said. ‘Maybe when I am born again I will wash.’