Call it a miracle or God's grace or a scientific imbalance, but a village near Allahabad, India has as many as 33 pairs of twins in a population of just 600! One in every 10 births here is of twins, some identical others not. Even two pairs in a population of 600 is normally considered high.
Scientists call it a 'genetic goldmine', residents an 'upar wale ka karam' (God's grace). Name it what you may but Mohammadpur Umri a village (here 'pur as same as 'pore) has left many curious as to what is in this village that even childless couples are able to reproduce once they descend here.
Entering the village, looking around for identical faces, one finds not one but one at every turn. It feels as if you've entered the sets of some Hollywood sci-fi film on cloning. From a five-year old playing out in the bright sun to a 40-year old handling a small grocery shop - almost everyone has a look-alike.
What is it that makes this village generate twins on a regular basis? You ask the elderly there and they just give that knowing smile before on of them says: "Ye yahan ke paani ka asar hai." (this is the result of water here). They also credit the twins to the soil of the village.
Scientists from across the world, refusing to take the villagers' version, have often converged here to burn the midnight oil in their bid to find out the reason behind this unique feature. Some have even collected blood samples, while others carried away with them the soil and water to various laboratories for testing.
A team from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, collected blood samples of a few twins from the village but could not get to a reason for the twin phenomenon happening here. They then left on the assumption that it could be the result of a mixture of environment, food and living conditions. Another factor that they cite is the high degree of consanguineous or intermarriages in the village.
On the other hand, the villagers are yet to decide whether it's God's gift or a curse they're bearing for the last 60 years. Whatever be the case, they enjoy the attention they have generated worldwide. Teams from national and international media keep visiting them, taking their pictures to publish and telecast, bringing to light this unique place in India.
The strange, till now unexplained phenomenon, is more than a century old. Umri's most famous twins are Haseena-Madeena. The reason being that Haseena had migrated to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) at the time of partition of India. Since the sectarial riots happened at that time, she was killed on her way. People till now talk about her. However, no one knows what happened to her twin.
Since her, twins continue to be born in Umri village and the mystery continues to remain so.