'Not surprisingly, the call for lighting diyas, candles and other sources of illumination to demonstrate a nation's resolve to fight coronavirus has elicited astrological, numerological and even medical explanations,' notes Amulya Ganguli.
The roots of superstition lay in mankind's fear of the unknown in the pre-historic age.
But, once the diyas of science began slowly to unravel the mysteries of the life around humanity, there was a gradual fading away of the belief in the occult.
Even then, the conviction that science does not answer all the questions has persisted because 'there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy', as the Prince of Denmark told his friend Horatio in Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.
Hence, the prevalence of pseudo-sciences like astrology, numerology, et al.
If these have seemingly thrived in India more than elsewhere in the world, it is because of the generally widely held belief that our ancient rishis were the repositories of all wisdom with their gift of divya-drishti or farsight.
This faith in the sagacity of the gurus has received a boost in recent times from those currently in power at the Centre whose followers have insisted that Vedic India had everything ranging from computers to aeroplanes which are now considered to be the inventions of the modern age.
For the intelligentsia, such ideas can seem amusing and derisory.
As Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has said the expression of such views by those claiming to be scientists turned the Indian Science Congress into circuses.
But it is in times such as the present when an unknown menace stalks mankind that belief in the supernatural can receive a boost.
WATCH: Prime Minister Modi's 11 minute video posted on April 3, 2020.
Not surprisingly, the call for lighting diyas, candles and other sources of illumination to demonstrate a nation's resolve to fight coronavirus has elicited astrological, numerological and even medical explanations.
There have been references by modern-day sages to Rahu, the 'planet' which exists in astrology, but not in astronomy, and to the magic of the number 9.
Lights are to be switched off at 9 pm for 9 minutes while the appeal for doing so was made at 9 am on the ninth day of the lockdown.
There is even a medical explanation for the efficacy of such mumbo-jumbo by a former president of the Indian Medical Association bout how the collective consciousness of 1.3 billion people can work wonders as enunciated by Guru Vashisht of ancient times.
The exhortation is reminiscent of a godman portrayed in Satyajit Ray's film Nayak, who asks an advertisement executive to spread the message of his organisation WWW (Worldwide Will Workers) which believes that nothing is impossible if all the people of the world come together to express their will power.
India used to be known as the land of the rope trick and snake-charmers.
Then, sundry godmen and godwomen appeared on the scene with their large retinues of followers, including politicians.
It is to extricate India from them that the country's first and agnostic prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, spoke about the need for cultivating a scientific temper.
But the wheels are turning in a contrary direction.
Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs.