No, Hindus are not abandoning their religion en masse while Covid-19 has India in its grip
An excerpt from an Iranian news program – making false claims that large numbers of Hindus are leaving their religion en masse and throwing out their idols, allegedly because they had proved useless in stopping the spread of Covid-19 in India – began to circulate widely on social media. media in mid-May.
While the video may seem like serious journalism, it does in fact contain outdated footage filmed long before the pandemic and taken out of context.
The footage, which was originally broadcast on Iranian TV channel Shia Waves, began circulating on social media around May 11. One segment shows a bulldozer retrieving dozens of Hindu religious idols lying on the ground. Another segment shows someone throwing a large religious idol from a truck into the river.
On Facebook, the video was shared dozens of times in multiple languages. © Watch an archive of the video on YouTube
The Iranian TV presenter says: “A large number of Indians have thrown the idols of the gods they worshiped on the street, while the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the country is skyrocketing. […], the idols did not protect them against the coronavirus ”.
However, we ran these images through a reverse image search (click here to find out how) and found that the footage of a tractor appeared in a Hindi language publication dated September 14, 2019 – a full three months before Covid-19 turned up for first discovered in Wuhan, China.
The India Today media explains that these images show idols of the Hindu goddess Dashama who were left next to a river in Ahmedabad in northwestern India in August 2019.
Traditionally, people would throw these idols into a lake or river, but the ritual has changed in recent years to avoid pollution.
An Indian commissioner, Vijay Nehra, posted a tweet several months ago sharing images showing how people had changed their traditions to avoid pollution of the river. In a follow-up tweet, he emphasized that the video currently circulating online was using these images out of context.
After Nehra tweeted those images, a local journalist posted a video of similar events. This video was then picked up by the Iranian media, who broadcast it claiming it was showing something completely different.
As for the footage of the great idol being thrown into the river from a truck, it’s been online since 2015 (watch here and here). While we couldn’t figure out the story or context behind these images, it’s clear they have nothing to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, the statues do not seem to show someone rejecting a deity, but rather an example of someone participating in a tradition of throwing idols into the water.
The images broadcast by Iranian media outlet Shia Waves have nothing to do with the Covid-19 pandemic currently hitting India. Nor does it show that people reject Hindu gods, but instead participate in traditional rituals in honor of those gods.