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Formerly Dead Lal Bihari Meets Fellow Ig Nobel Winners

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.

by Kees Moeliker Curator, Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands and winner of the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for Biology

Photos by Kees Moeliker

Lal Bihari tells the story of how he became a living dead person, and then founded the Association of Dead People.

February 9th 2014 was a memorable day in Ig Nobel Prize history. During the Ig Nobel Conclave at the Quark 2014 Techo Management Fest at the BITS Pilani Goa Campus in Goa, India, Lal Bihari “Mritak,” winner of the 2003 Ig Nobel Peace Prize met four fellow Ig Nobel Prize winners. Lal Bihari “Mritak” won his prize for (1) leading an active life even though he has been declared legally dead; (2) waging a lively posthumous campaign against bureaucratic inertia and greedy relatives; and (3) creating the Association of Dead People.

The word “mritak” means “deceased.” Lal Bihari chose to add it to his name after he discovered, those years ago, that he was officially deceased. His organization is named “Mritak Sangh,” which translates to “Association of Dead People.”

Lal Bihari’s acceptance speech notes.

In 2003, the year Bihari won his prize, he—for obvious reasons—could not travel to the ceremony at Harvard. So, during the Ig Nobel Conclave in Goa, a short ceremony was scheduled to honor him and allow him to deliver his (belated) acceptance speech. Due to a lack of an effective time-measuring device, his speech took about 20 minutes (at the actual Ig Nobel ceremony at Harvard every year, each winner’s speech is strictly limited to 1 minute).

Bihari explained, among other things, that after  fighting the Indian authorities for almost 20 years, he finally got his life back, but nevertheless still heads the Association of Dead People to help others overcome the problems that ensue when they are declared officially dead. Of the approximately 20,000 people who have this problem in India, he  has already helped more than 500 to live again.

Five Ig Nobel Prize winners, together at the festival in Goa, India. Left to right: Elena Bodnar (invention of a brassiere that, in an emergency, separates into a pair of protective face masks), Ilja van Beest (using roller coaster rides to treat the symptoms of asthma), Lal Bihari “Mritak,” Kees Moeliker (first scientific documentation of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck), and Dan Meyer (assessing the medical effects of sword swallowing).

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This article is republished with permission from the May-June 2014 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

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