Nation Other News 20 Oct 2016 Tech-driven but stil ...

Tech-driven but still superstitious?

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Oct 20, 2016, 6:33 am IST
Updated Oct 20, 2016, 6:41 am IST
People opt for black magic and poojas that emerge out of superstitious beliefs as easy solutions for their perennial problems.
 People opt for black magic and poojas that emerge out of superstitious beliefs as easy solutions for their perennial problems.

Chennai: Technological invasion may have changed one’s life, but not their beliefs and superstition. Fake godmen fleecing the ‘faithful’ has become the order of the day and such cases have seen a rise in the past few years. Even the educated have fallen prey to such superstitious beliefs to get out of situations they find themselves in. People opt for black magic and poojas that emerge out of superstitious beliefs as easy solutions for their perennial problems.

The latest incident in Perungalathur on the outskirts of the metropolis where two teenaged ‘godmen’ not only walked away with 5 sovereigns of gold from a woman after conducting a pooja to “ward off evil forces” but also tried to enact the fraud with another woman in the same neighbourhood not just shows their bravado but also the extent to which society is deprived. Selvakumar and Ramesh, both 19 and hailing from Vellore, were caught by the neighbours and handed over to police.

“This is not a isolated incident as people continue to believe in superstitions,” says D. Saroja Devi, community mobilisor of Indo Global Social Service Society, pointing out that residents of a village near Kalpakkam in Kancheepuram district tonsured their heads en masse in the belief that it would cure a “mysterious fever” that was prevalent in the locality at one point of time.

“The irony is people believe superstitious beliefs more than they believe in medicines for cure of such fever,” she added. However, S. Gayathri (name changed), a believer from the village, is in no mood to admit that their practice is superstition. “Our forefathers and ancestors believed in the systems even before the commercial medicines popped up. So we are just continuing our traditional way of living,” she says.

Sensing trouble in the locality, the Indo Global Social Service Society has started counselling the villagers to undertake adequate medical and blood tests, so that the mystery fever can be treated.

Superstitions and traditional beliefs go hand in hand in most parts of the state.
In most of the reserve areas, tribes believe in native herbal medicine and prayers. While there is some science in this, fake godmen continue to con the general public and this is visible in incidents of snakebites in hilly and forest areas of Western Tamil Nadu, says K. Brindha, conservationist, Biodiversity Foundation of India.

“There is nothing wrong in praying seeking relief. But there are a lot of myths revolving around snakebites and other mysterious infections,” she said.
Anupriya Murugesan, a social activist, says children are also forced into such foolish practices by their parents. Narrating her harrowing experience, which she underwent when she was just eight, she recalled how a local priest in Theni district forced her to admit that “she saw a thief” after camphor was placed on her palm.

“My neighbour took me to the temple where the priest asked me to look in the camphor to find out of who stole the valuables in the neighbours house. At one point, the priest started shouting at me and asked if I could see a woman in green saree opening the shelf. I was scared and said yes,” said Anupriya, who is “still guilty” about the incident.

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