When COVID-19 revived King Midas

Pushpa Devi, a resident of Jaunpur had a convincing story to tell when approached by a rusty local newsperson on the recent events around the state. ‘LadooGulalsindhoor(vermilion) and red petunia flowers, when buried before the lunar eclipse, would calm the corona mayi, bhaiya ji’ she said firmly after a Watsapp video made her believe that the pandemic was an anguished goddess who shall turn benevolent if worshipped by mortals. Amazed? She was one of the many, who performed this ritual across parts of rural India sustaining the fevicol bond between Indians and superstition.

 The pandemic and the year 2020 have made many such events surface up. From the heads of some religious organization planning to arrange for Gaumutra counters and incense sticks made up of cow dungs to drive away COVID-19 forever to clerics projecting the lockdown as a direct threat to their religious freedom, Indians for the majority of times can’t stop obsessing over things that have ceased to help in profound growth while humanity battles with the virus upfront. Coronavirus which was once popularly linked with the wrath of god on meat-eaters in the early march has now left hundreds of people sleepless according to the latest report where villagers in large parts of the subcontinent were convinced that anyone who slept during the pandemic would turn into a stone. That’s the birth of new folklore right there.

Heard about a chapter named ‘Bal kand’ in a popular manuscript? Well, a viral message guaranteed immunity from the virus if the hair found from that scripture was boiled and consumed. Surely that was news to my ears as the local printing press workers epidermal appendages were the new elixir. The clapping event of 22nd March called by the Prime Minister of India to symbolize solidarity with the healthcare workers was also attributed with many superstitious and astrological understandings. Even Amitabh Bachchan tweeted “5 pm, 22nd March, “Amavasya,” darkest day of the month; virus, bacteria, evil force at max potential & power! Clapping, shank vibrations reduce/destroy virus potency. Moon passing to ‘nakshatra’ Revathi. Cumulative vibration betters blood circulation” which was later deleted. Neither the loud sounds resonating the Indian streets and nor the cumulative luminescence of Diya’s could vanish the 26-32 kilobase RNA virus opposite to the beliefs of many who continue to live in the trueness of every forward in their cellphones.

Well, our subcontinent is not the only one trapped by these obnoxious thoughts. In Jerusalem, as a way to exorcise the crisis, someone has suggested drinking Corona Beer whilst praying to God since “drinking a nice glass of alcohol during prayers gives them extra power.” The conspiracy entrepreneurs have linked 5g network, vaccines and even the Microsoft giant bill gates for the current situation. 29% of New York citizens have denied the possibility of consent for vaccination once available according to a recent survey. Anti-vaxxers-1: Science-0.

C:\Users\DEEPAK MANDLIK\Desktop\lexicon\Datura_stramonium_Fruto_2010-10-04_DehesaBoyalPuertollano-1024x768.jpg
Due to an uncanny resemblance with the corona virus’s molecular structure, Indians have renamed Datura as ‘Corona Kayi’ and now it welcomes you on the house doors of many in the city of Mysuru.

All this brings us to a much-needed discussion. Are we so naive to believe in everything we are made to believe or are we so ignorant about the facts that science approves of? Our sincerity and love for the deeply rooted customs are getting a toss by many who keep attacking the vulnerable by hazardous confabulation regularly. The question here arises about how we can make sure that superstition doesn’t kill us before the actual virus does. No amount of cow dung bathing, garlic, trash in earthen pots or pouring water into wells has helped to end the situation. At the time of the great plague in London, the spread of miracle cures and the scapegoating prophecy was almost harder to contain than the infection itself. So next time a patient walks in a clinic smelling all salty and full of sweat, the corona remedy is the best differential before any of that classic cystic fibrosis presentation you read about in medicine.

     Dr Ripudaman Singh
    Government Medical College, Patiala

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