Father says 11-year-old son was branded with hot iron in religious ceremony at Hindu temple in Texas without his approval

The family of an 11-year-old boy is filing a lawsuit against a Hindu temple in Texas after they say he was left disfigured from being branded with a hot iron in a religious ceremony.

Vijay Cheruvu said his son suffers from extreme pain and permanent disfigurement over the branding he received without the father’s notification or approval.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know how to handle it. My primary concern is for my son’s well-being,” Cheruvu said to KHOU-TV.

The lawsuit claims that over a 100 participated in the ceremony at the Ashtalakshmi Temple off Synott Road in Sugar Land in August. Three of those participants were children, including Cheruvu’s son.

He said his son was branded in two spots on his shoulder in the shape of a Hindu god named Vishnu.

Attorney Brant Stogner said that the boy was left with an infection and with burns from the incident. They are suing the temple and its parent company over the incident and are seeking $1 million.

“This is not a ceremony that’s widely used across Hinduism, this is something that’s a very small sect,” Stogner explained.

The child was not identified, but attorneys read an impact statement from the boy.

“I was so surprised. I did not know that anything was going to happen like this. I was shocked when they did it on my shoulder and it hurted so much that I almost cried,” he said in part.

“They knew what they did was very wrong because they told me to keep it secret from everyone else. But I had to tell my dad when the pain got worse and it became infected,” he added.

Stogner said that legally, a child is not able to consent to religious disfigurement.

“It doesn’t matter what your religion is, you don’t get to burn children,” he said.

Cheruvu says that his son was taken to the temple by his ex-wife. The son was branded, but the mother was not. Cheruvu’s attorney says that the act was contrary to Texas law.

“Under Texas law, both statutory and common law, a child cannot consent to being burned or scarred. A child’s mother cannot consent for her son or her daughter to be burned or scarred,” Stogner said.

The father says that being branded shows allegiance to a particular religious leader and is not a part of the religious faith which he shares.

“This is a traveling guru, and he probably goes all over the place doing this, goes to different temples doing this,” says Stogner.

KHOU said neither the temple nor its parent company commented on the lawsuit.

“He goes to see a therapist. He’s so deeply scarred, mentally scarred, and then there’s all the pain,” said the father.

An advertisement outside the Hindu temple says that it is constructing the fourth-largest statue in the U.S.

Here’s more about the lawsuit:

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