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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 July 2024

Inviting danger: Cow dung baths

Readers' Speak: Woman killed in Madhya Pradesh for giving birth to four girls

The Telegraph Published 15.05.21, 12:07 AM
Frontline workers, perform Suryanamaskar after applying cow dung on their body during cow dung therapy, believing it will boost immunity to fight against the coronavirus disease.

Frontline workers, perform Suryanamaskar after applying cow dung on their body during cow dung therapy, believing it will boost immunity to fight against the coronavirus disease. PTI

Sir — It is shocking that some people in Gujarat have been going to cow shelters once a week to cover their bodies in dung and urine in the hope of curing or warding off Covid-19, even though doctors have warned against the practice (“Doctors warn against Covid cow-dung bath”, May 12). Blind belief and superstition have led Indians into such depths. One wonders when it will dawn on people that cow dung is nothing but waste. Applying cow dung and urine can never boost immunity or protect anyone from the coronavirus. On the contrary, it can cause other infections, including mucormycosis or the black fungus infection, which may be fatal.

The cow is a sacred symbol to Hindus, and its dung has been used for centuries to clean their homes under the assumption that it has therapeutic and antiseptic properties, a belief without scientific basis. Rationalists have gone hoarse trying to explain this to people, but to no avail. While images of men applying cow dung on their bodies have caused both shock and amusement, the main concern is that the pandemic has wreaked devastation on India, with more than 23 million cases and 2.5 lakh deaths reported so far. The actual numbers could be many times higher, with citizens across the country struggling to find hospital beds, oxygen or medicines, and many dying alone for the lack of treatment.

Dyutiman Bhattacharya,
Calcutta

Sir — Can citizens be blamed for believing that covering their bodies with cow dung will ‘boost immunity against Covid-19’ when, a few months ago, the University Grants Commission had asked universities in India to encourage students to take a ‘cow science’ exam, the study material for which included the medical ‘virtues’ of cow dung and urine? The incident involving cow dung ‘therapy’ occurred in Gujarat. During the campaigning process for the recently-concluded Bengal assembly elections, some Bharatiya Janata Party campaigners were heard making promises to usher in the ‘Gujarat model’ here. The people of this state should be thankful to Mamata Banerjee for not allowing that to happen. Had her party failed to win, the people of Bengal, too, would have had to undergo the ignominy of wading through bovine waste.

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Sanjit Ghatak,
South 24 Parganas

Sir — Right from the beginning of the pandemic, social media has been rife with ‘medical suggestions’ for preventing or curing the disease; unfortunately, most of these remedies lack a scientific basis and have not been supported by doctors. One such recently-suggested remedial measure to counter Covid-19 has been the application of the dung and urine of cows on one’s body. The people who believe that this is the right approach to boosting immunity against Covid-19 are actually making themselves prone to many more diseases. Cow dung has black fungi which are harmful for human bodies; this is a scientifically-proven fact.

At a time when the entire country is going through an unprecedented health crisis, dangerous ‘remedial’ methods like these, which are adopted by large numbers of people, complicate the problem further. This might also be instrumental in spreading the coronavirus further. Indians must shun unsubstantiated suggestions found on social media regarding the containment of the lethal virus and, instead, strictly follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization so that we may all remain safe from the disease. The Centre must warn people not to experiment with their health and lives.

Iftekhar Ahmed,
Calcutta

Dark hour

Sir — At a time when the pandemic has caused the country untold mental and physical suffering, it was even more crushing to be reminded that societal evils continue to thrive. A young woman in Madhya Pradesh was allegedly killed by her husband and in-laws for giving birth to four girls — the last was born barely months ago — and for dowry. News such as this causes us to lose hope at the best of times; during a pandemic, when we are struggling to stay afloat, the ongoing plight of women in the country — they have also been the worst hit by Covid-19, in terms of jobs and medical aid — makes us wonder whether gender equality will always remain a pipe-dream.

Janaki Ganguly,
Calcutta

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