By John Balson @JJBalson

CONJOINED twins Shivanath and Shivram Sahu say they have no regrets turning down offers to separate them - calling their condition a ‘gift from God’

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Videographer / photographer: Virendra Khanna, Basit Umer
Producer: Basit Umer, John Balson, Ruby Coote 
Editor: Thom Johnson

The boys, who have just turned 18, went viral in 2014 when a video of them washing and dressing themselves was broadcast.

They say they were approached by several doctors with offers of surgery to divide them but said no.

They are now too old for the operation but are happy with their decision - despite it leaving them unemployable.

Shivanath said: “We can't get separated now even if we wanted to. It was possible when we were kids but now it is impossible. 

“The doctors told us that we can't be operated on. But we don’t want to do anything anyway. We want to stay like this.

“We have a very unique gift from God. We consider ourselves as two bodies but one soul.”

The twins were born in a tiny village near Raipur in central India and heralded by some as divine incarnations.

They are believed to share the same stomach but have independent lungs, hearts and brains.

They are able to live mostly independent lives, including showering, eating and getting dressed and combing each other's hair.

Despite always being together and sharing a few differences, the say they rarely fight.

Shivram said: "We are similar in some ways but different in others. We have different choices of what we like to eat and drink. 

"One of us likes Pepsi and the other likes Coca-Cola. We are not always hungry at the same time and will eat different choices."

Despite living in an isolated community they get regular visitors from across India and beyond.

This is a result of a 2014 video produced by Barcroft TV that went viral and has amassed more than 160m views on Facebook alone.

Shivram said: “We love getting the attention. It feels good when people know who you are. Everybody in the world knows who we are and this keeps us happy."

However, their attention-grabbing appearance also has a downside and they were withdrawn from school in 2016 as they were seen as a distraction to other students.

Now unable to find work they appear to be at a loss with what to do with their lives.

Shivanath said: "When we used to go to school people and the students used to stare. Sometimes whole bunches of people would gather around the school just to see us. 

"It would get very crowded, so our teachers asked us not to come anymore.

"Now we just wake up in the morning, get freshened up, take a bath and then we stroll around on our cycle and go on picnics with our friends.

“We then listen to songs on our mobile phones and we watch videos on YouTube and movies also.

“We haven’t got any real plans for the future. We don't want to get married and have a family and all. 
"No one is willing to give us any work so we don't have any choice. We have one acre of land so we’ll divide it equally among us and leasehold it to farmers."

Instead, the sons are primarily fed and cared for by their father Raj Kumar, 50.

The labourer and his wife Mati Devi, 46, also have six daughters who are all married.

Mr Kumar is very protective of the twins and was pivotal in convincing them not to be separated as youngsters.

"I don't want them to be separated. My boys are healthy and I accept them the way they are,’ he said.

"Everybody in the village loves them and loves to play with them.

"Since they don't go to school anymore they play among themselves and I go out to work.

“I have tried many times to get extra help from the Government but no authorities have ever listened to us. 

“It is up to me to take care of them and I won’t be dependent on anyone.”

Conjoined twins occur when the zygote, the initial cell formed by sexual reproduction, fails to completely separate.

They occur in just one in every 50,000 births with only one per cent of these making it to their first birthday and two-thirds being stillborn.