Temple in Texas Sued for $1 Million for Branding 11-year-old

Written on 04/06/2024
Asia91 Team

An Indian-origin boy, 11, was branded on his shoulder during a temple ceremony in Texas, a practice against state law even with parental consent. The incident has left him deeply scarred, necessitating therapy sessions.


A shocking incident at a Hindu temple in Sugar Land, Texas, has led to a lawsuit seeking over $1 million in damages after an 11-year-old boy was branded with a hot iron rod during a religious ceremony. The case, filed in Fort Bend County, highlights a disturbing event that left the young boy with permanent scars and trauma.

Image Credit: Court Document


The Incident Unveiled


Vijay Cheruvu, a resident of Fort Bend County and the father of the victim, initiated legal action against the Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple and its parent organization, Jeeyar Educational Trust (JET) USA, Inc. 


According to Cheruvu and his legal representation, the boy, along with about 100 other individuals, including at least three kids, was subjected to branding with hot iron rods during a ceremony last summer, resulting in extreme pain, permanent disfigurement, and infection.


According to the Attorney, branding looks like a conch on one shoulder and a picture of a Hindu god on the other shoulder.



Cheruvu's attorney, Brant Stogner, said research by his law firm, Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, has revealed that :


Branding ceremonies such as the one that allegedly occurred southwest of Houston last summer are uncommon in Hinduism.



Everybody we've ever spoken with who's a practicing Hindu, they've never heard of this," Stogner said. "We've been told that it may happen in some small villages in India, but this does not happen in India proper; this does not happen at any Hindu temples here in the United States.


What we think is this is more of a traveling guru type under the guise of Hinduism, maybe even under the umbrella of it, but a sub-sect," he added. "This particular guru brands people to initiate them really into him rather than into the faith.


(Statement Source: HPM Link here)



Against His Will



It was reported that the boy attended the ceremony with his mother and was branded without his or his father's consent. In Texas, branding, tattooing, or scarring a child is illegal even with parental consent, a law that underscores the severity of the boy's experience. 


The lawsuit accuses the temple and its parent organization of negligence and seeks damages for the physical and psychological impact on the boy.



Community Awareness and Legal Action



Brant Stogner, the attorney representing Cheruvu's family, emphasized the importance of raising awareness about such practices to prevent future occurrences. 


The legal team is also challenging the notion that this branding ceremony is a recognized or widespread practice within Hinduism, suggesting it may be the work of a fringe group.



A Child's Trauma



The boy's own statement reveals his shock and pain during the event, highlighting the betrayal he feels from those involved. His father shared that the boy is now seeing a therapist to cope with the mental scars left by this ordeal.



Silence from the Temple



Efforts to reach the Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple for comments were met with silence, further complicating the community's search for answers and accountability.


This case sheds light on a deeply disturbing event, raising questions about the practices of certain religious groups and the protection of children's rights and well-being. 


As the lawsuit progresses, it stands as a call to action for closer scrutiny and regulation of religious ceremonies to ensure the safety and dignity of all participants, especially minors.


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