No, Cow Dung ‘Havan’ Can’t Sanitise Homes Against COVID-19
Madhya Pradesh Culture Minister Usha Thakur on Sunday, 7 March, advocated the need for a Vedic lifestyle for protection against coronavirus and claimed that ‘havan’ (ritual burning) of a cow dung cake can keep a house sanitised for 12 hours.
However, we couldn’t find any evidence to support the claim that burning cow dung cakes can ward off the novel coronavirus or any other virus. We, instead, found a study that said that people from rural areas in India are prone to suffer from a lot of health problems because of burning cow dung cakes.
Thakur, while speaking at the Indore Press Club, said, “In order to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, the Vedic lifestyle has its own role to play along with allopathy. The pandemic has sent out a message that we have to return to the Vedic lifestyle.”
“Mix ghee (clarified butter) made out of cow milk with rice. If you add this mixture on a cow dung cake during havans at the time of sunrise and sunset, then your place would remain sanitised for 12 hours,” she added.
She also claimed that this was based on science.
This is not the first time Indian political and religious leaders have made such claims. On March 15, 2020, Swami Chakrapani, president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, asked world leaders to drink cow urine and skip meat to beat coronavirus. The religious group organised a “gaumutra party” to “neutralise the effects of the virus".
Earlier that month, a BJP legislator from Assam, Suman Haripriya, claimed that one can purify their surroundings with cow urine and cow dung.
“We all know that cow dung is very helpful. Likewise, when cow urine is sprayed, it purifies an area... I believe something similar could be done with ‘gaumutra’ and ‘gobar’ to cure coronavirus (disease),” she said.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We looked for scientific studies or research paper that could support the claim that burning cow dung cake can sanitise one’s home but could not find anything.
FIT had previously spoken with Dr Sumit Ray, a Senior Consultant, Critical Care Medicine, who had said that there are no scientific studies to support the claims that cow dung or cow urine can help in the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
“Scientifically, cow dung and cow urine are excreta from an animal’s (mammals) body, which is being thrown out. Unlikely to have any benefit to another mammal such as human beings. There are no scientific studies or evidence to show that cow urine or cow dung has antiseptic properties. It is not going to benefit us in any infections, including this coronavirus. Comments like these only add to the unscientific and irrational information that is spread,” Dr Ray said.
We also found a study that talked about the risks of burning biomass indoors for heating or cooking purposes.
“The burning of biomass in the developing world for heating and cooking results in high indoor particle concentrations. Long-term exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) has been associated with increased rates of acute respiratory infections, chronic obstructive lung disease and cancer,” the study said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the health ministry has stressed on good hygiene such as washing/sanitising hands frequently, maintaining physical distancing and wearing a face cover to prevent COVID-19.
The health ministry is also encouraging people to take the vaccine against COVID-19 to end the chain of transmission as soon as possible and prevent deaths.
Therefore, the claim that burning cow dung cakes can sanitise the house for 12 hours and thus, prevent COVID-19 is unfounded and not backed by science.
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