Anas Abdul Nazar
Envestnet Pvt Ltd
Highly educated and superstitious society in Kerala
Black Magic & Gory Rituals Kerala Model!
Just before the dawn of October 21, 2022, Elantoor village in Pathanamthitta district was mostly popular for two details -a progressive settlement famously named as a Model village by Gandhi (Mohandas
Karamchand Gandhi) back in 1937 & the birth place of K. Kumar, a veteran freedom fighter and an orator also known as Elanthoor Gandhi. For the newer generations, Elanthoor is known as the birth place of renowned actor Mohanlal.
Yes! It's the same Elanthoor where two women were dismembered and buried in a suspected case of "ritualistic human sacrifice' by a couple in Pathanamthitta.
That’s the irony, 80 years later such atrocities are prevalent in the same model community we thought was progressive.
Wait! This is not an isolated incident that happened in Elantoor.
A few days later, an young man's life was claimed in Parashala taluk of the capital district by the severity of an astrologer's prediction to an young girl that the first man who marry her would die.
One year back, in 2021, a religious teacher mother sacrificed her six-year-old son to God!!
These are very few examples in recent times where superstition reached its height.
Hmm, are we still saying that Keralites are enlightened?? 100% literate?
Role of religions in fostering superstitions
It can be said that belief in God/Religion is the biggest superstition. But faith in God/Religion is often able to provide mental comfort to the common man in his troubled life, especially for faith in God.
There are many people who entrust everything to God and take the confidence they get through it throughout their lives. They observe their worship and faith without bothering others. But when that faith does not limit to themself and starts causing harm to other individuals and society, faith becomes blind.
The innumerable religions and the gods with each name at the head of them may have given solace to many people in each era.Worship of natural forces and sacrifices to appease them were present in almost every society.
But when science developed, it could explain every natural phenomenon, man began to realize that many beliefs were blind. As people became more aware of human rights and so on, many inhumane things began to become alien to civilized society.
In the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, there were waves of such social changes in Kerala as well. Gurudev, Thaikkad Ayya, Iyyenkali and Chattambi Swamis were advocates of such changes. It is in the light shown by them that the present day Kerala wears the coat of enlightenment. But it is sad that we cannot carry the brightness of that light without dimming.
Although India's constitution includes fundamental duties to develop scientific temper, our rulers do not give much importance to it. Though Kerala has the title of being the first state in India to achieve full literacy, we are not at all ahead in eradicating superstitions or raising scientific awareness.
In Bihar, which lags far behind in literacy, a law was enacted in 1999 against witchcraft, followed by states like Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Kerala, some attempts have been made in the past to frame a similar law. The Kerala Prevention of Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices, Sorcery and Black Magic Bill was submitted to the government in 2019 but it is yet to see the light of the day. We are still discussing!! The heat of the discussions will increase after an event that shake like the waves in the river when stones are thrown.. Then it will be cold and frozen until the next news.
Role of Education
Why can't our education help us to get rid of superstitions?
Answer is simple!
We teach our children science in schools. But at the same time they are inclined more towards the fantasy stories and superstition taught by their parents or other elders in the home.
Our current education system is not sufficient to overcome such illogical things and to create scientific awareness in children.
This is the land of Swami Vivekananda who taught us that faith in self is the greatest faith. Our education should be able to inculcate confidence in children over superstitions and customs. We must have teachers who teach children the irrationality of superstitions. They should be brought up to be wise enough to distinguish paddy from chaff. The situation for that should be created in the society.
Rulers should be able to make strong decisions to help society to get rid of blind faith and officers should be able to implement them. Every parent should strive not to allow at least the next generation to be trapped in the prison of superstitions. Enlightenment comes when we can distinguish faith from superstition. Only then we Keralites can claim true literacy.