Recently I came across the factoid that the world’s longest recorded poop – 26 feet – was recorded by a woman in Michigan. I just had to learn more. It turns out she wrestled the title from a tiny village that specializes in long poops. This is their story.
In the Himalayan foothills of the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh, a village called Sanjikar has an unusual tradition: once a year, just as winter nears its end and the planting season is about to start, ten able-bodied men undergo a drastic change in diet. Like yuppies a half a world away, they shun gluten, and fiber is a four-letter word.
Building up to the planting festival of Difika, they walk around, buttocks clenched, making sure the prizes they are carrying in their intestines can grow to astonishing length.
“It is considered dishonorable to shit too soon, so they train themselves, like speed eaters in reverse,” according to Dr. Howard Meconian of New Delhi Deli University, an anthropologist who has spent several years in Sanjikar. “It’s not uncommon for some of them to have three or four trial runs before the main event.” Although, he adds, the word ‘runs’ is taboo as the contest nears.
Once chosen, the pressure is high: the men who fail are banished from the village.
In early March arrives the moment of truth – a feast which draws attendees from miles around. Receiving a signal from a priest, the ten men line up, squat, and extrude the logs they’ve been carrying inside their bowels. The man with the longest is declared the winner, and receives the adulation of his compatriots.
The contest dates back several centuries, but the prize presentation is a more recent tradition, reflecting the influence of an eccentric British officer, Sir Henry Crapford, who lived out his retirement in the village. He wrote the canned dialogue, repeated annually, between the priest and the winner:
Priest: I have measured and I have remeasured, checked and rechecked, congratulations you win the turd prize.
Winner: But I thought I was first!