16 January 2008

Sankranti Rituals explanation or going overboard

I came across this article on Deccan Herald which explained the festival of Makar Sakranti or Pongal which fall on 14 or 15 of January. My initial reaction to this article was Wow. So guys before reading any further I would request you to go through the article.  Following is my criticism for the lady because I feel she has gone overboard with the scientific explanation. Something which VHP leader as well as other politicians are too good at.

Prof Dr Geetha Viswanathan says

All that is not meaningless tradition. There is hard-core science behind it. White-washing the house with calcium carbonate (collected from molluscan shells) helps to kill spiders and other insect vectors in house. Fresh cow dung in presence of sunlight produces methane which forms a thin film in front of our house and prevents entry of bacterial pathogens and also kills microbes. Red mud will close all pores in the house which are breeding place for many vectors.

There is no way I would disagree with her. Festivals like Holi, Diwali and Sankranti enforce people to clean up their house completely. This is a good tradition which was probably enforced on people like me who manage not to do it all the time. All the procedures helped in ways she has mentioned. No doubt about that. But this also suggest that as we have changed our style of living and the architecture of house have changes, the ritual should also change.

Cooking rice in presence of sunlight helps to get vitamin – D for one full year. Gingily is a good antioxidant; dry kenel of coconut is anti bacterial agent and anti viral agent.  Dry coconut has saturated fatty acid which prevents infections. Dry coconut has lauric acid, which is a very good antiviral agent oil in the nut helps to rejuvenate the muscles and enhances hair growth and premature aging of our skin.

Now this is something interesting. I am not sure about how you can get your years supply of Vitamin D. I wonder if any doctor would agree with it. Naturally Vitamin D is produced by our body in the presence of sunrays. I suppose this happens everyday. Good information of everything thats useful for our body. But is that required just once in a year. Is that enough for the entire year. Sorry I have just queries, no answers for this.

During this season that signals the end of winter and beginning of spring followed, is the optimum period for viral and bacterial colony to breed. Mumps, measles causing adenoviruses breed fast during this period. These viral infections can even cause damage to chromosome 17 and create a chromosomal or genetic disorder which can be passed on to next generation. Eating coconut gingili mixture with anti viral agent helps to prevent the viral attack. Turmeric used in pongal is also an antiviral agent.

Turmeric is used regularly in Indian household. Its antiviral capabilities are surely known to all. Just one day of all this and your are protected from infection for the rest of the season. Thats awesome. Next I was totally bowled over by the one statement, "These viral infections can even cause damage to chromosome 17". What was this supposed to mean.

Crossing the fire by the cows reduces the chance of the infection; camphor arathi will also prevent infection of theses virus because camphor is an anti viral agent.

Thats awesomely good information. Seems like SPCA and Menaka Gandhi is yet to hear of it. Next time I think humans should be the ones who should cross over the fire or give the 'Agni-Pariksha'. There would be less chances of infection. Better add camphor to the fire too. I really have no idea about how infection can be prevented by just passing a cow over the fire. I am sure poor cow would have had felt pain if nothing else.

So it can be seen clearly that our ancestors had a good reason to do what they did. It is time we realised that not all were for a good reason. It is time we understand things and not go overboard with it. I am sure many would have. Did you? Even the editor of Deccan Herald deemed it right to be published. My only point is that we just demolish credibility of scientifically sound rituals of ours by going overboard explaining it. It does more harm than good.

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