Dr Mrinal Chatterjee
Superstitions at the time of Corona by definition is a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, or a practice based on such a belief. Superstitions in some form or the other have been there and still present in almost all societies and all countries. Some of them are so illogical- that they are actually funny.
(Find a list of such funny superstitions in the separate box) Period of crisis increases superstitions or even create new ones as people turn to magic remedies to the crisis.
Covid-19 pandemic(Superstitions at the time of Corona) has created panic across the world. It has also created new superstitions and different versions of old ones. It has prompted people to indulge in practices that have no scientific basis or even logic.
Consider this: the PM called for daylong Janata Curfew(Superstitions at the time of Corona) and urged the people to clap or blow conch or beat metallic thali (plate) to show our appreciation towards the doctors and medical workers. In Odisha and Bengal hordes of people came out of their homes and hit the street.
In several villages, people went around doing sankirtan which involves ritual singing, drumming and dancing. In several small townspeople went round singing bhajans accompanied by dhol and ghanta(metallic gong).
Many started merrily dancing convinced that the day-long curfew had killed all the germs of corona(Superstitions at the time of Corona) or our scientists had sprayed some mysterious gas in the atmosphere to kill the Coronavirus and during this Janata curfew, it had done its work. There is no Coronavirus now. This defeated the very purpose of ‘Janata Curfew’.
In Odisha, Bengal, Bihar and several other states elaborate puja and even jagyna have been organized to ward off the evil called corona and purge the earth from its bad influence.
In Arunachal Pradesh(Superstitions at the time of Corona), some people have started believing that hair found in the Bible and soaked in water is the new vaccine for COVID-19.
At Namsai in Arunachal Pradesh(Superstitions at the time of Corona), a message has gone viral among the Buddhists which effectively says: Dig the land near the house door and you will get coal.
Then mix the coal with water and sprinkle in the house and corona is gone. Advice on potions like this abound in social media platforms, especially WhatsApp and Facebook.
In some parts of the country, some people believed that drinking fresh cow urine would give them immunity against the covid19 virus. It prompted some to organize cow urine party and some to sell fresh cow urine.
Superstitions around Covid 19 are not limited to India only.
In Jerusalem(Superstitions at the time of Corona), 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.”
For ultra-orthodox Rabbi coronavirus is a clear sign of the “coming of the Messiah”. Almost in the same strain, in Odisha, some people are looking at Corona(Superstitions at the time of Corona) as Kalki avatar out to purge the world.
Although the government is trying its best to keep people indoors and enforcing social distancing- even by shutting religious institutions, some superstitious practices are creating problems.
In this time of crisis, there are sane voices also to which people must listen to. The highest Muslim authority in Jerusalem, Grand Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, said on the radio that health is “more important than religious practice,” and that “protecting oneself is one of the foundations of Islam.”
In Aizwal, Mizoram Church authorities have suo motto shut down mass. Several Hindu temples and Sikh gurudwara(Superstitions at the time of Corona) authorities have also taken similar decisions. In the time of a crisis like this- scientific temper helps. Superstitious practices do not.
If you like whistling a cheerful tune while working, or while in the shower, we should let you know that you wouldn’t get away with that in Lithuania. Whistling indoors there is forbidden, as Lithuanians believe that it can summon demons.
Did you know that Syria banned Yo-Yos in 1933? If not, you’ll be even more surprised to read why. The local population claimed that yo-yos cause droughts, so the government banned the ill-intending toy.
In Germany, it’s a faux pas to light your cigarette with a candle, especially if you’re a sailor. The explanation of this superstition is quite clever, as, in Germany, sailors historically made money off matches. This meant that by ditching the matches, you were saving money at the sailors’ expense.
If you like to knit, remember to knit only indoors, unless you want to prolong winter, as in Iceland, knitting outdoors is said to postpone the beginning of spring. Just think about it, it’s a win-win situation: even if spring will be postponed, you’ll have plenty of warm socks, scarves and other clothes to get you through the winter.
According to a South Korean superstition, you will lose both your wealth and luck if you will tap or swing your legs while sitting. We just hope for the Korean children that the same doesn’t apply to swings.
One of the strangest Christian superstitions can be found among the Pennsylvania Germans. They are convinced that it’s a sign of bad luck to shower or change clothes between Christmas and New Year. Well, at least they don’t have so many problems picking out different outfits for the winter holidays.
All across Eastern Europe, it is a bad sign to spill salt or pepper. As was the case with German sailors, this superstition has a historical reason. In the past, salt and pepper used to be very expensive, so, of course, wasting it was bad luck.
In Azerbaijan, people further evolved this superstition by assuring that adding a pinch of sugar to the spilt salt or pepper will counteract the ill effects.
When you’re in Serbia, it’s a good idea to call the newborn babies you will encounter ugly. We’re not joking, the parents will thank you for it, too. This is because calling a baby cute or adorable, according to Serbians, will jinx it, and the baby might grow up on the wrong end of the cuteness spectrum.
Be careful when gifting flowers to Russians. Not only do you have to avoid giving even numbers of flowers, as this is customary only at funerals, but you also have to remember not to include any yellow flowers in the bouquet.
In Russia, yellow flowers customarily symbolize infertility and the end of a romantic relationship, so, unless you wish to upset someone, it’s best to skip gifting sunflowers, yellow tulips and such.
Now, let’s move to some advice from Argentina. People in this country avoid mixing wine with watermelon at all costs. According to an old wives’ tale, combining the two will result in certain death or at least an upset stomach.
Similarly to poor black cats in much of the European world, owls are considered to be a bad omen in Kenya. It is believed that seeing or hearing an owl is a sure sign of death or at least a vicious curse, so maybe the black cat isn’t as unfortunate as its Kenyan counterpart, after all.
Korean pregnant women avoid eating foods that aren’t perfectly-shaped, as an ancient tradition makes them think that consuming misshapen foods will make their babies ugly.
The Turkish Ministry of Culture prohibits citizens to drink water that reflects moonlight. The officials assured that it will bring bad luck to whoever drank the water.
Another superstition on the parenting topic prevents Welsh women from cutting their newborn baby’s nails. The claim is that cutting a baby’s nails too early will somehow make the baby become a thief. What does the mother do, then, to trim the newborn’s nails, you ask? She bites them off until the baby is 6 months old.
In Russia, where putting on or wearing your clothes inside out supposedly begs for a beating. To prevent this from happening, you have to ask a friend or family member to hit you lightly, immediately upon noticing the mishap. This should lift the curse.
Some of these superstitions may look funny, some ludicrous and almost all illogical. But there are superstitions which can harm the society- like magic remedy of diseases, like witchcraft and black magic.