A Witchcraft-related cases in India during the Outbreak of Covid 19 Pandemic
In India the belief in witches is a phenomenon that is linked to specific elements both of Hindu cults, whose devotional expressions and folkloric elements are rooted in the Vedic texts, and the belief systems of some indigenous communities. Indeed, although influenced by the expressions of the Hindu faith, these groups have retained specific characteristics, in which magical elements like the relationship with evil powers, from which the belief in witchcraft practices derives, are paramount. However, a study of witch-hunting episodes must also consider the social dimension in which they occur, as scholars working on this subject over the last decades did. Most witch hunts occur within closed social systems, based on patriarchy (or which have undergone patriarchalization processes in recent decades) and affected by Hinduization and tribalization. Finally, the analysis of beliefs in witchcraft helps to unveil the power relations that underlie these beliefs. On the one hand, this paper aims to reflect on the religious roots of the belief in witches, without neglecting the possible interpretations just mentioned above; on the other hand, it aims to present an initial assessment of the incidence of the phenomenon in 2020, at a particularly dramatic historical moment marked by the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. The data presented are partial but indicative as they have been collected through daily monitoring of the main Indian newspapers in English and some national and local newspapers in Hindi.