Combating superstition while enforcing the nationwide lockdown has become a nightmare for officials in Tumakuru district.
To their dismay, around 60 families from Muddenahalli in Koratagere taluk lived in tents outside their village from Friday afternoon, in the belief that if they do this for three days it will protect them from COVID-19. They returned to their homes on Sunday night after completing the rituals.
This temporary vacating of their homes began after a woman, who claimed to be speaking for the village deity Maramma, reportedly instructed them to do this, said an official, adding that every time they tried to send the villagers home, they would return.
Under the guidance of the village heads, the people left the village on Friday afternoon itself along with their cattle, dogs, hens, cats, vessels, clothes, and other essential items.
“They pitched tents outside the village on their fields, coconut farms and government land and are cooking there. Their children and babies too are with them,” said officials.
Though the tahsildar of Koratagere taluk, B.M. Govindaraju, along with the police tried to convince the villagers to return home and isolate themselves, their pleas fell on deaf ears for the most part.
A villager, Anjanappa said, “After the tahsildar told us to go back to our houses, some people returned home but came back to the tents after the tahsildar and police left the village.”
Village elders recalled stories of their grandparents doing something similar during the plague.
“Our village deity, Maramma, has told us to vacate the village for three days for our good, and hence we will follow it strictly. My grandfather used to tell me that people vacated the villages during the plague in India,” said Malleshappa.
Mr. Govindaraju told The Hindu the villagers were escorted by an official and policemen.
“They could have gotten bitten by snakes, scorpions and attacked by sloth bears and leopards,” he said.