Malana, Himachal Pradesh – On May 22, a team of health workers trekked for about 5km (3.1 miles) on foot to set up a coronavirus vaccination camp in Malana, a remote Himalayan village in northern India’s Himachal Pradesh state.

Only 36 people turned up to take the shot in the village with more than 2,200 residents. But even this meagre turnout was a huge victory.

Residents of Malana were reluctant to take the vaccine for months because the village council, a religious authority, had stonewalled the inoculation drive claiming the local deity, known as Jagadamani Rishi, had not agreed to it.

According to the villagers, it took about five months of rituals, prayers and petitions for the deity to “convey its assent” to the council for

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