It’s 2023 And A Woman Was Told To Dip Hand In Hot Oil Proving Fidelity

A tribal woman from Andhra Pradesh was saved in the nick of time by a government official from getting her hands burned as per a ritual. Some parts of the Yerukala tribe continue to use painful trials by this ordeal to settle disputes.

Tanya Savkoor
New Update
fidelity ritual woman saved

Images: Pixabay

A tribal woman from Andhra Pradesh was saved by a government official from dipping her hands in boiling oil, a painful ritual to prove her fidelity to her husband, the Press Trust of India reported. A local Mandal Parishad Development Officer, who was allegedly given a tip-off, intervened in the ritual in the nick of time.


The official told the PTI that about five litres of oil was brought to boiling point in a new earthen pot decorated with flowers, and elders in the tribal community had gathered to witness the 50-year-old woman's "character test." The mother of four was being tested by her 57-year-old husband who had orchestrated the ritual with the elders, as he had been suspecting her of infidelity for a long time.

The official added that the Yerukala tribe, to which they belong, performed an old custom in which a woman's fidelity could be tested by dipping her hands in boiling oil and seeing whether her hands burned or not. "In the event the woman's hands do not get scalded, then the tribe will conclude that she was faithful to her husband but if it does get burnt, then they will infer that she was 'unfaithful'," the official said.

The official also added that the woman's husband had allegedly assaulted her several times before. "The woman agreed to the test as she thought it was better to prove her innocence than regularly suffer from her husband's thrashing," the official added.

Trial By Boiling Oil Ordeal In The Yerukala Tribe

No police case was booked against the people involved in the ordeal but they were taken to the police station for counselling before being let off. The PTI reported that officials are monitoring the tribal community and lined up further counselling and visits by police and other officials.

Although a Panchayat council presides over the Yerukala habitats, olden rituals of deciding guilt or innocence are still prevalent in some parts. Trial by ordeal is one of how domestic disputes such as theft, adultery, loans, property, and land are resolved. These trials include rituals like dipping fingers in boiling oil, picking up a hot iron crowbar, and walking barefoot through the fire bed.


Monogamy is the common form of marriage in the Yerukala tribe, but polygyny is also socially permitted. Marriage through negotiation and exchange are the common modes of acquiring mates. Divorce is permissible on grounds of adultery, barrenness and incompatibility between the spouses. Yerukala widows are permitted to re-marry.

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Panchayat Andhra Pradesh tribal fidelity test ritual Boiling Oil Ritual