‘Welcome to God’s own country of twins,’ a sign reads as you enter Kodinhi. About 150km from Kochi, the village is home to 2,000 families. And there are at least 400 pairs of twins or more among those families, as of 2017.
On the whole, India sees 9 twins per 1,000 births, but Kodinhi is an exception, where the rate is 45 per 1,000 births. This is one of the highest in the world.
But is there a scientific explanation for this? In October 2016, a team of researchers from various institutions including CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) and University of London and Germany visited the village to investigate this phenomenon. The researchers collected saliva and hair samples, as part of their study.
While there are multiple speculations, there is no scientific evidence yet. Some doctors have said that besides genetics, it could be a particular element in the air or water of the village. Other explanations include the diet of the villagers. Artificial insemination is one of the reasons the number of twins being born has increased around the world, but that’s not the case with Kodinhi. Researchers continue to conduct genetic studies to find answers to the twins of the village.
How did the village find out about the many twins? It was the curiosity of two twin sisters who realised that there were eight pairs of twins in their class itself and 24 pairs in their school. This is what marked the beginning of the discovery. As the news spread, they realised that Kodinhi had nearly 280 pairs of twins. It has led to the birth of TAKA, the Twins and Kin Association, which provides support to the twins of Kodinhi and their families.
Kodinhi is not the first village in the world with a twin mystery, though. There’s Hung Loc Commune in Vietnam, Igbo-Ora in Nigeria and Candido Godoi in Brazil. In some families of Igbo-Ora, also called the “Twin Capital of the World”, there are families with three or more sets of twins. In Candido Godoi, seeing double is the norm, according to a BBC report. A pair of twins from the town says that it was almost abnormal if you didn’t have a twin in this town.
How do they tell each other apart in Kodinhi? Hairstyles, birthmarks and other techniques. “I comb my hair to the left, while my twin combs his to the right,” says Abhi Bhaskar to Brut.