The Theist Pantheon: Quarantined
A worldwide contagion bringing news of spread from all around. A world forced to settle for the grimmest of times. Who does it turn to? What can it believe in? To put in simple terms, a five millennia long system of credence, or, religion. As per public opinion, the purposes of the practice of a faith are to achieve the goals of salvation for oneself and others, and to render due worship and obedience to a set of code. But in this span of eight months, religion has played a bigger role than one could possibly imagine. It has separated, unified, attracted followers and discarded them all at the same time. Here to inspect, Curious Case of COVID unravels exactly what the pandemic’s impact on the theist's ‘new normal’ has been.
Faith, ever so old and wise, molds a bigger facet as compared to many others. In public opinion, religion is the one true constant guardian that shall escort you through hell and high water. As per Martin Luther King Jr’s words, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” In all simplicity, after taking a good look at the current world, we’d agree on the fact that there’s enough obscurity already. In fact, giving the enigma another stroke would mean to encode, not decode. In these uncertain times, is religion really the best teacher? After all, creed has just proven to be another way for us to distinguish, separate and discriminate.
To justify; the spread of ambiguous conspiracy theories during these troubled times have heightened the intolerance and discrimination against Muslim communities. In the past few months, since the first COVID-19 cases were reported, a broad range of misinformation spread across social media where users were found using unsubstantiated information to blame Muslims as the ‘super spreaders’ of the virus. This upsetting phenomenon resulted in disorder and disturbance in the society once the restrictions were eased.
In pursuit of Hinduism, Indian Politician, Dilip Ghosh, along with many more Hindu supporters, advocated the use of ‘gau-mutra’ or ‘cow-urine’ to boost immunity in the fight against COVID-19. “If I speak about cows, many feel uncomfortable. This is India, the land of Lord Krishna and here we worship cows. We will have cow urine to stay healthy.” And evidently so, the people were quick to show their approval of this idea. A few weeks later, a Muslim dairy farmer in West Bengal’s Hooghly district was arrested for selling cow urine and dung as an antidote to COVID-19.
The farmer is reported to have been inspired to set up a stall to sell the bovine excreta after watching television footage that featured a Hindu leader talking about the efficacy of cow urine and dung as a “medicine” for dealing with the latest worldwide coronavirus outbreak.
However, the facts are that the thrust of the lockdown has left various imprints. Recent data shows that others may be engaging more with religion since lockdown. The fact that Bible app downloads shot up globally is one indication. The top English-language Bible on Google Play and App Store was installed almost two million times, the highest amount ever recorded, according to Appfigures. Similarly, one of the United Kingdom’s largest online Christian bookstores, Eden, has seen physical Bible sales rise by 55 percent, while Google searches for “prayer” and “Christianity” have skyrocketed.
As a matter of fact, some religions claim that their practices have bettered the crisis in a hands-on manner. Authorities in the executive committee of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, say that Buddhism’s emphasis on interconnectedness and the popular belief in some of its apotropaic rituals may have helped stem the spread.
An individual’s religion, faith or belief is a somewhat delicate issue to have on the agenda. Yet, its pertinence is clear as crystal. It is only natural for mankind to turn to religion, an almost permanent yet evolutionary system of faith. Yet again, our faith is quite simply what we believe in. In times of crisis, must we use it as something to discriminate by? Instead, why can’t we look for religious ideas that may help us tackle this crisis unanimously? Knowing that our words and our actions will leave an impression on the future, shall we let it get in the way of rational thinking? The pantheon of religions is ever so large and the subject of religion is ever so grand. And in this wide territory, curiosity thrives and jives.
Written by Anvita Tripathi
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