Role of media in removing Superstition in India

In the 21st century, when technology is governing our lives, when modernity inspires us all, when old traditions disinterest us, when westernization attracts us, we still have something old instilled and inscribed in the deepest domain of our minds – something as fake, as non-existent, as illusionary as superstitions. No matter where mankind may reach, no matter how much we develop, the ghost of superstition still surrounds the minds of most of us.

Superstition is having belief in a supernatural power – something that can’t be explained by the laws of nature. And India happens to be one such country, which tops the charts in such cases. Now, none of us is unaware of the kind of superstitions followed or believed in India. I am not writing on what all the Indians are capable of doing and imagining when it comes to superstitions. But, I intend to question the credibility and authenticity of something as liberal and as individualistic and as modern as the media when it comes to handling superstitions.

We say the media has a role to play in removing the vices from a society especially news channels owing to their impact factor. But there are certain news channels that force me to believe otherwise. They are not here to remove the weed but to further populate it.

With constant competition lurking from all four sides for news channels, they have invented a new way of attracting the Indian audiences. I remember one day while switching between channels I was forced to pause the remote on a news channel, which had something different from others. The whole setup was smoky. In the center sat a lady clad with multicolored heavy jewellery and tarot cards in her glittering hands. I stopped to watch. It was then that I realized that she was supposedly a tarot card reader. Now, before I say anything further, I’d like to make it clear, that I don’t intend to devalue these future telling sciences but the way in which they are presented, certainly does not go with my rationale.

Going back to the show, the lady was answering and ‘solving’ the problems of people who called her. One of the callers said, “Ma’am, I am not enjoying a cordial relationship with my neighbors, they are jealous of my success. What do I do?” This was the answer the lady gave “Oh… I can visualize your problem and can very clearly see the solution to it. My few ‘upaays’ will remove all the ‘tona-totka’ from your life.” And here goes the remedy… “Take a pinch of ———————————- at sharp midnight, throw this with your hand at your neighbor’s door. While returning back don’t dare to look at it. It’s my promise; your problem will be solved.”

It was hard for my ears to believe what I was being forced to hear. Now as far as I know about tarot cards, it has no relationship with these kinds of remedies. To reestablish my belief that all was nonsense, the lady had better answer to give to the second caller. The question went like this “I am not happy with my wife. We don’t get along well with each other. What do I do?” the equally funny answer came- “Yes I can see, it is a major issue of your life. But don’t worry I have a major solution for your problem. Take a lemon, cut it into two halves, sew it in lemonade and soak it in a bowl of vinegar. Hide this somewhere your wife cannot see it. This will do miracles.”
It becomes difficult to believe these things being served with glitter, glamour and glory on National Television. One side these news channels claim to do the “pardafash” of the “tantriks” while on the other they only showcase and produce the same material on their channels. The world has not become that small that there is no other topic to be fed to the audience than such frivolous things. Media has an indispensable role to play in framing of a society’s mindset. We often feel ashamed of things we should not be – our traditions and culture but do feel really proud following such hollow ways of life.  Superstitions, of any kind, of any level can tantamount to ruining the life of many individuals. It becomes media’s ardent duty to showcase those shows that free the people from the shackles of such evil, hollow and unfair tendencies rather than reinforcing something as grave and as baseless as superstitions.

Juhi Gupta

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