HUBBALLI /HYDERABAD: A rumour has been sweeping rural parts of northern Karnataka and Telangana that it is not auspicious for women to wear coral beads in their mangalsutras as it would impair their husband’s health.
Gripped by panic, women have been removing coral beads from their mangalsutras and breaking the gemstones.
The panic began Tuesday evening in parts of Ballari, Koppal, Chitradurga and Gadag districts. In Gadag district, villagers of Harlapur and Hombal said they have received calls from relatives in Ballari and Chitradurga urging them to remove coral from their wedding necklaces.
In Telangana, rumours that wearing mangalasutras at night would lead to personal problems swept Gadwal and its neighboring mandals in Jogulamba Gadwal district.
Married women from Gadwal, Gattu, Rayapuram, Penchikalpadu, Poodur, Erravalli mandals removed their mangalasutras Tuesday night and wore them again Wednesday morning.
Local women said the rumour blew in from Raichur district in neighbouring Karnataka.
"It spread like wildfire in our district. We were told that the red beads in the mangalasutra would cause problems in our families. We were asked to remove the mangalasutra at night and wear it again in the morning," said a woman who did not want to be identified.
Rationalists debunked the rumours. Federation of Indian Ratonalist Associations (FIRA) president Prof Narendra Nayak blamed some TV channels for triggering the 'coral hysteria’ in Karnataka.
Activists in Ballari informed Prof Nayak that some TV channels triggered panic among women by claiming that the coral beads caused cancer.
Puzzled by this, Prof Nayak found the answer in an online abstract in PubMed (a reference centre with millions of citations to articles in biomedical journals). The abstract was titled "Methodology of building up and validation of models for carcinogenic potentials of drugs by means of the CORAL software.’ "TV channels mistook it for coral beads and concluded that it causes cancer,’’ Prof Nayak said. He added that chemical compounds from coral are in fact used to treat cancer, AIDS and pain.