P. Veerabhadranaika

People who are home-bound due to the corona pandemic are anxious and fearful. There are some rumours in certain areas of Karnataka that ekka, butter-milk, nut (a nut that is shaped like corona), thistle plant, and neem, are auspicious and should be tied at the door-steps. They believe that this will ward away the corona. On April 5, Sunday, the Prime Minister made a request to the people to put off the lights at 9.00 PM for 9 minutes and light lamps, candles, etc. and drive away the darkness. People did not ignore the request and gave a sentimental value to it and lit lamps. The media also joined in the publicity.

On April 5, in Kullur village (Chamarajanagar District) a number of people cleaned their homes in the evening, sprinkled cow urine both within and outside their homes, decorated the outer area with rangoli, had baths and lit lamps to drive away the coronavirus. Some of them were saying that Modi had asked people to light lamps. Some of them who had put off the electric lights in the evening did not switch them on again until the next day. In another house in Honganur, they have sprinkled water at the door-step, decorated with rangoli and have lit 9 lamps on the rangoli. A resident of the village, Radha, has said that the significance of the number 9 is that April is the 4thmonth and the date is 5. If you add 4 and 5, it becomes 9. This 9 is representing the ‘navagraha’ (nine planets). Worshiping them will drive away the coronavirus. A resident of Doddamole has said in a WhatsApp message that by lighting lamps the temperature will rise by 37 degrees and this will kill the coronavirus. We do not know whether this is true or false; but it has come to our notice that the lighting of lamps has been like a festival. In Chamarajanagar district, along with lighting lamps, people also lit crackers.

At a time when we should be looking at the Corona and its spread from a scientific perspective, superstition has raised its head. It is natural that people succumb to such beliefs in times of adversity. But the government should not encourage such instances. The clanging of vessels (which the Prime Minister suggested) and the lighting of lamps, etc. has only encouraged people’s ignorance.

(With inputs from Mahendra)

The above article was written in Kannada by a village resident. Translation from Kannada to English was done by Ms. Srijaya Char.