Health and Wellness

Thalaikoothal A dreadful act of killing the elderly in India

Old-age Poison

“India is a country with varied customs, culture, and rituals. Our culture through the whole teaches us to respect and obey our elders. Serve them to make their lives easier and smoother, at our level best.”

Do you really feel like India is the same as said above? If No, what could be your possible reason for support? And if it’s yes, really fine. No doubt, India is a reflection of great values. But every one of us must be aware of a strange practice that is happening in some parts of the southern districts of the state, of Tamil Nadu. This practice is a dreadful act of killing elderly citizens for some self-defined reasons. People name this “Thalaikoothal”.

Thalaikoothal An involuntary euthanasia


According to a study ‘A Study on the Victims of Geronticide in Tamil Nadu, India‘ by M. Priyamvadha, Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology of Madras University, it is observed that Thalaikoothal has grown its roots deeper into the districts of Madurai, Virudhnagar, and Theni. As per the statistics obtained from the study, 30 percent of the respondents admitted that Thalaikoothal was being practiced as a ritual killing. 22 percent of them claimed that these elderly-killing ceremonies were being performed to end the lives of the elderly.

Reasons stated by the respondents

  • A poor economic situation for the families of the elderly.
  • Respondents not want their parents to suffer during old age.
  • No scope for improvement in the physical or mental condition of the elderly.

Methods used by respondents to kill their elderly

Raniamma, 80: Her daughter and grandchildren ditched her because she stopped getting her pension. She now lives in a dilapidated house. She recently bumped into an iron gate and lost her vision in her right eye.

The respondents used one out of 126 various methods to implement the offensive crime of Thalaikoothal. Some of them include giving an extensive oil bath early in the morning and eventually making them drink glasses of tender coconut water. This ultimately leads to renal failure, high fever, fits, and death within 2 0r 3 days. Another includes giving a head massage with cold water, which then lowers the body temperature sufficiently to cause cardiac arrest. There are some methods also like force-feeding of cow’s milk while blocking the nose which causes difficulties in breathing. The respondents refer to this as “Milk Therapy”. Finally, the last option left is the use of poisons.

Final Verdict


Thalaikoothal is no doubt an offensive crime and an illegal practice in India. But this practice has been socially accepted for a very long time. More likely, people who are doing this, consider this as a mercy killing. People around even don’t bother to complain to the Police. Even the situation is much more severe than we can ever think of. Usually, the family who are going to do Thalaikoothal, priorly informs their relatives about it. Sometimes the victim even requests their families for it which is really heartbreaking.

Seeniamma, 97: Survived Thalaikoothal twice as well as ten sleeping pills. Having lost her sight and voice, she now waits for a release

This issue gained high-profile importance in the year 2010 when an 80-year-old man escaped from his family. Fortunately, he came to know what was going to happen to him. He heard his family members about how they would share his lands. So, after this incident, the administration took its steps into the matter and set up teams of officers to monitor the senior citizens.

“Please do respect your parents and elder members of your family and surroundings. They are an essential part of our lives.”

Priyanka Saggu

Carrying a big zill for reading and writing, I am an engineering student, besides a software developer by Profession. Keened to work with huge and renowned companies, I am polishing myself with all sort of skill-set required. I narrate myself as a person who wants to do everything required to stand out from the crowd.

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