Beliefs and Superstitions about COVID-19: Observations in India under Lockdown

DUTTA, ANKURAN

Abstract

In the diverse social structure that characterizes India, misbeliefs and superstitions are still as active as in earlier days. Social media in particular has been swamped by hundreds of beliefs and superstitions during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily 'infecting' digitally literate people who are unable to check the fake and unthinkingly pass on suspect messages going viral. Common people in general have been found wanting in responding to calls for greater awareness and necessary behavioural change towards adopting safe practices. Mainstream media in India has been largely playing its role in educating people about the pandemic and thereby contributing towards inculcating scientific temper, but more needs to be done. Five highly circulated superstitions and misbeliefs on social media about the coronavirus have figured in this observation, while public awareness campaigns like 'hoax busters' by Indian Scientists' Response to Covid-19 (ASRC) and 'Infodemic vis-a-vis Pandemic' by Dr. Anamika Ray Memorial Trust (ARMT) have been highlighted as the sort of responses that can be mounted to counter misinformation and superstitions.

Keyword(s)

Superstition; Beliefs; Misbeliefs; Faith; COVID-19; Scientific Temper; Media; Lockdown

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