The sun is shining, the birds are singing: get on with your life
A certain savvy section of the populace cashed in on the December 21 doomsday prediction which the scientists term as one of the “biggest hoaxes” played on the gullible.
Scientists and rationalists were unanimous in mocking the various end-of-the-world theories that had gone viral. If one went by the doomsday predictions, any of three events was to happen on Friday: earth colliding another planet, a quake ready to shake the world off its feet or temperatures soaring to 1250 degree centigrade!
The believers chewed their nails and propitiated the gods. Social media saw any number of debates, discussions and angst. As for others, head spinning with too many Mayan and Sumerian yarns, they simply wanted to stop the world and get off it.
Every fear offers a business opportunity. When this reporter disguised as a student and asked an astrologer if the world would indeed end on December 21, he promised it would collide with a new planet. But with great alacrity, he pointed out that the gravity of the situation will reduce if a Vishwa Shanthi Puja was held for a mere, cough, cough, Rs. 2,200.
Saner voices such as rationalists and scientists believe that this orb that has been speeding through space for 4.54 billion years, is good enough for a few more billion. The former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation U.R. Rao blamed superstition.
“Earth has been in existence for 4.5 billion years and will continue to stay for another 4.5 billion years. Mayan civilisation was a great civilisation. But just because some Mayan calendar stops, we cannot be talking [nonsense],” Prof. Rao told reporters on the sidelines of a recent seminar here. “It is not the first time [that it has happened]. Superstitious beliefs continue to dog the country.”
Senior scientist Sabyasachi Chatterjee said: “People who have vested interests try and promote these rumours. Religious groups perform pujas and this is also a time when astrologers make money,” he said and pointed out that science at this day and age was more advanced than what the Mayans knew and there was a greater chance that the scientific community would know if Armageddon was round the corner.
Mr Chatterjee said that the only different thing about December 21 is like every year is that it is the day of the winter solstice, marking the shortest day and the longest night.
Meanwhile, the city reverberates with end-of-the-world parties, both in homes and party zones. The latter, of course, charge for the privilege.