The Second Wave | Science behind traditions

The second wave:

All of us have placed immense hope that the COVID pandemic will settle and the world is going to recover from this pandemic but it has been more than a year and now we are facing the second wave. For all of us, life has taken a different direction, and still, we are here surviving without losing hopes that ‘Better days are coming. COVID news, ambulance sirens, mask and sanitizer advertisements, requests for extra beds, oxygen supplies, Plasma donors is what we are coming through in our day-to-day life. We all are in this together and instead of blaming the government, let us participate to overcome this pandemic. To participate doesn’t mean we have to donate. The simple thing we have to do is take good care of ourselves and stay at home.

Doctor holding a mask and a stethoscope. Covid Second Wave

All our ancient practices were not myths:

Many of us might have come across various blogs and articles on social media giving health tips to survive this pandemic. So now this article is also going to repeat those health tips, but, I can assure you that it won’t be boring. The doctors and other people are constantly trying to share with us interesting facts about the health tips that can amaze you. The cultural and traditional value is superstitious and there are many myths which have to be eradicated in the society but it is very dangerous to not preserve those practices that are believed to be health beneficiary and also those that are scientifically proven. 

Physical distancing and the Hindu civilizations:

With the severity of the COVID second wave, physical distancing is being followed all over the world with more intensity. It is interesting to know that the Hindu civilization has the practice of greeting people with their palms together (the namaste pose – You will know what it is called, read on!) instead of shaking hands which was adopted from the western culture,

This is one of the physical distancing practices and this type of greeting is called Anjali mudra’. Also, the word quarantine has become familiar among almost everyone during this pandemic but the quarantine was an ideology that was being followed since the ancient time. This idea which was followed in the ancient times called Sutak’ and Patak’. Sutak means isolation during the birth – both the child and the mother were kept in isolation for 40 days so that they are protected from any disease or contaminations, which now is also being followed in hospitals where the baby is being placed in incubators. Patak – when a person is dead, the family members are restricted from attending any kind of social gatherings so that they don’t spread any kind of infections caused during the cremation or if a person has died due to any disease.

Another shocking fact is that many tribal places are surviving the pandemic without many cases because of their lifestyle and practices. One of them is the tribal population of Odisha which was untouched by the COVID. Maintaining physical distancing is a significant practice of the tribes. They usually walk in a row instead of walking in groups and in the hilly region they walk one after the other so that if one person slips the other person does not get affected. Practices like these helped tribal people to protect themselves during the pandemic.

isolation of mother and baby to avoid infections and also the tribes walking in a line maintaining physical distance

Washing our hands:

Cleanliness was followed during ancient times and not being hygienic was a sin. In Santana concepts which is not related to any religion but is a concept for the way of living, hands are to be washed with water or clay or mud which has detergent properties before and after using the toilets to prevent infections and also it is evident that in most of the temples hands and legs are to be washed before entering the temple. The practice of removing slippers outside the temples as well as in our homes was done to avoid infections and not only to show respect.

If you visit some of the rural villages, they have a practice of placing a tub of water before entering the home, where you have to remove your footwear, wash your hands, feet and face and only then enter the home. So, let us all get inspired from these practices and try to implement it in our daily lives, making it a habit. Many people were careless and did not realise the severity of this pandemic but now during this second wave let us be sincere to ourselves and look after our health.

The science of washing hands and feet has started earlier in the ancient days itself evidently we wash our hands and feet before netering a temple

Image Source: Screenshot from Maryada Ramanna Movie

The science behind wearing masks:

Fighting against COVID19, our most important and cheapest weapon turns out to be a face mask. This is undoubtedly a practice followed in the historical periods. It can be dated back to 1910 during the Manchurian epidemic in China where people wore masks to protect themselves from the plague which was followed by the Spanish flu in 1918. In 1923 the Great Kanto earthquake caused the people to wear face masks, followed by influenza in 1934. Masks being worn during these pandemics, later on, started to be a routine among the nurses and doctors during the 2nd world war.

Also the origins of the source were not known but an interesting feature (which was not verified) is that few men in the Indian sub-continent, have used the extra part of the turban to cover their mouth so that when they speak, no droplets are let out into the air. Similarly, women used to cover their mouth with their saree while speaking. This can be clearly understood today, why they might have practiced such tradition. Wearing masks was not only to prevent the infection but also a public duty to ensure that we all are together in this. During this second wave, the Doctors recommend wearing a double mask, so, Wear a Mask, Save a life.

Red cross lady an Illustration by Cat O'Neil

Image Source: Illustration by Cat O'Neil

Other healthy practices at home:

In India we have the practice of applying turmeric to the skin and also at the entrance of the home, instead of viewing it from the religious aspect, turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory compounds which take us back to the use of turmeric for 4000 years, that gives medical use. Cow dung is being used during festivals and is also regularly used on the front porch of houses which is known to reduce nuclear radiations and also possess an antimicrobial property that can be used for medical treatment. It also makes the soil fertile and reduces the dust particles in the air. There are many traditions and formalities which were followed all over the world, though some of them are superstitious and possess myths, we have to take a deeper look into the ideas behind some of the practices for which there might be a scientific reason.

Turmeric in a Spoon

Science was not born today:

The advanced science that all of us are amazed, is the result of gradual developments that took place for centuries. Those efforts made in the past had led to the betterment of today. During this pandemic, before the COVID testing kit was found or the vaccines were introduced, the government, scientists, and medical professionals insisted on self-Quarantine, wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands and many more practices which were followed during the ancient times and the historical world that has faced many contagious and have emerged victorious in the battles against such contagious diseases by following these simple practices.

The experience of the historians is what helped us in facing this situation and we are still thriving to fight against this disease, which will one day become a historical achievement and printed in books for the next generations. Still with the advancement of medical science, our initially steps would be to wear masks, quarantine, physical-distance and wash hands.

Let us all give a very big applause to our ancestors who have fought these kinds of diseases and respect the people surviving today, fighting against COVID19. We are in this together and let us leave a remarkable lesson and a history that upcoming generations can make use of. A lesson to our younger generations to expect the unexpected, how to take care of mental health during these situations, the virtual world, and the value of socializing.

We all are in this together. Lets fights against Corona and leave a remarkable history for our younger generation





Fact file:

Tiwari A, Manar MK, Singh SK, Mohan U, Panday K, Mohan U. Traditions & Customs of Ancient Indian Culture and Their Role in COVID 19 Pandemic Prevention and Control. Indian J Community Health [Internet]. 2020Jun.30 [cited 2021May9];32(2):317 -323. Available from:

The Hindu - Cow dung protects from Radiation 


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