As the coronavirus spread causes distress worldwide, a man in Kerala is worshipping the deadly pathogen as a Goddess and praying for the well being of frontline warriors, with his move drawing flak on social media.
A thermacol replica of of 'SARS CoV2, the virus that has affected millions worldwide and over three lakh in India, with red protrusions as seen in pictures, finds a place in the large puja room in the house of Anilan at Kadakkal in Kollam, Kerala.
"I am worshipping the coronavirus as a goddess and doing daily pujas for the safety and well being of health professionals, police personnel and scientists, who are toiling to discover a vaccine, fire force and media personnel and others engaged in the battle against the virus, he said.
Unfazed by the trolls against him in the social media, Anilan said people ridicule him for offering prayers to 'Corona Devi'.
"This is my way of creating awareness,"he said.
Many in the social media have questioned his motive, while others have said he was doing it just for publicity and some said it was just superstition.
Anilan, who is against the government's decision to open places of religious worship, including temples, said people can sit in their homes and pray.
At this juncture, when the virus has not been contained, allowing people to go to religious places will create havoc, he said.
"There are 33 crore Hindu gods and I am worshipping the virus as a goddess as part of the fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution", he said.
Anilan does not encourage devotees to come to his house to offer prayers and give money to 'Corona devi.'
Asked for his reaction to prayers being offered to the idol, well known writer, critic and orator Sunil P Elayidom said "At one end, our society and its people are well known for their knowledge and degrees and have become teachers, professors, technical experts, scientists and professionals. But on the other side, we still hold close to our heart such blind beliefs and communal expressions."
"We carry the extreme ends of both worlds. We never feel anything wrong in it. This worship is just a crude expression of that phenomenon", he added.
Many parts of rural India in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal Bengal has seen people worshipping Corona Devi to ward off the pandemic.
Women in parts of Assam have also offered prayers to please 'Corona Devi', according to media reports.