House of Secrets is a 2021 Netflix documentary on a mass suicide that took place in Delhi, India in 2018.
8 out of 10 stars. Well done. Parts were offensive, like when the cop laughs about the morning they found the suicides.
In July of 2018 in the Sant Nagar neighborhood of Northern Delhi, 11 people in the same family were found dead inside their home above their dairy store. Nine had hung themselves from an iron grill on the skylight (ceiling). A tenth person (woman) was hanging on the right. An eleventh person (woman) was dead on the floor. Their hands were bound and their eyes were covered. They had cotton in their ears. They ranged in age from 12 years old to 80 years old. The family dog was found barking nonstop just above the scene on the roof. There was no robbery. They were the Bhatia family. Some had tape over their mouths and bound feet.
Fourteen days previously they had paid for a daughter’s wedding and held a party. It didn’t seem that they would commit suicide. They seemed happy. Then police found 11 diaries inside the home, one for each of the victims. In those diaries was the entire story. Starting in 2007, the second oldest male in the family, Lalit, was channeling the spirit of his dead father. His father told them what to do and guided the family, including telling them in great detail how to commit ritual suicide. He called it the Banyan Tree Ritual.
Once the police knew that Lalit was the one to focus on, they researched the family’s background, particularly Lalit’s. In 2004, Lalit was attacked, beaten, and locked in a building that was set on fire. He was deeply traumatized. Smoke and ash got into his voicebox and he could no longer speak. In 2007, after his father died, Lalit began family prayers daily that healed his voicebox. After a year, his voice returned. These prayers were described to him by his father’s spirit. This was one example of many in which the things his father’s spirit told them to do benefited the family so they kept following Lalit’s orders. According to the diaries, they thought the Banyan Tree Ritual would reincarnate them. The diaries specifically speak of “untying” each other after the ritual.
After the hangings, several psychologists stated they believed Lalit had suffered a mental breakdown or psychosis in 2007 that caused him to hear voices and think he was channeling his father’s spirit. The family was deeply religious and believed him because they thought such a thing was possible.
8 out of 10 stars. This documentary was pretty well done for three hours.