The Iranian hermit who was nicknamed the “world’s dirtiest man” after reportedly refusing to take a shower for more than 70 years, has died at the ripe old age of 94, according to state media.
He got sick and died mere months after taking his first bath in decades.
Iranian news agency Irna reported that “Amou Haji”, an endearing nickname for an elderly person, died on Sunday in the village of Dejgah in the southern province of Fars.
Haji, covered in soot and living in a cinder-block shack, was reported by local media not to have bathed with water or soap in more than 70 years. Villagers said he had experienced “emotional setbacks in his youth” that led him to refuse to wash, believing that doing so would ruin his health.
He was also said to avoid fresh food, preferring rotting carcasses, especially those of porcupines. In 2014, the Tehran Times reported that Haji would eat roadkill and smoke a pipe filled with animal excrement. Photos showed him smoking multiple cigarettes at once.
But, a few months ago, villagers had persuaded him to wash for the first time in decades. He fell ill not long afterwards.
On an earlier attempt by neighbours to take him to bathe in the local river, Haji threw himself out of the car when he realised the purpose of the trip.
Haji never married.
His funeral was set for Tuesday night in Farashband City, Fars.
The hermit’s death leaves open the chance for a 67-year-old Indian man to take over what could be the record length of time without washing.
In 2009, the Hindustan Times reported that Kailash “Kalau” Singh, from a village outside the holy city of Varanasi, had not washed for more than 30 years in an attempt to help end “all the problems confronting the nation”.
He would reject water in favour of what he called a “fire bath”.
“Every evening as villagers gather, Kalau … lights a bonfire, smokes marijuana and stands on a leg praying to Lord Shiva,” the paper said.
Singh was reported to have said: “It’s just like using water to take a bath. Fire bath helps kill all the germs and infections in the body.”