Lucknow, India panic over irrational claims

Lucknow Residents Scared Sleep Will Turn Them to Stone – India Real Time – WSJ.

There are plenty of reasons why we sometimes struggle to sleep, but being scared of turning into stone overnight is rarely one of them. That fear, however, kept dozens of people awake in Lucknow and other parts of India’s most populous state this week.

It all started with a message late Monday, claiming that anyone who slept that night would turn into stone. Word spread across the state of Uttar Pradesh through cellphone messages, phone calls, and eventually even local television flashed it.

This news, twinned with doomsday predictions of the world ending in 2012, was enough to scare everyone, said Rachna. She and her family, including two children, joined the rest of their colony to sit out in the cold, apparently unaware of the irony that sitting in freezing temperatures was the most likely way for them to end up in frozen, stone-like form.

More here: Fear of turning into stone keeps Lucknow awake

People in several parts of Uttar Pradesh spent a sleepless night on Monday and police remained on high alert as a rumour that those who slept would turn into stone spread like wildfire. The night turned more dramatic following an hearsay about an imminent earthquake. Such large-scale mass hysteria was akin to the frenzy that had gripped the entire nation 15-years-ago over reports of Lord Ganesha drinking milk offered by devotees.

The cops had the onerous task of convincing the masses that the prophecy doing the rounds was baseless. Even 24- hours after the rumour started floating, the brain behind it has still not been unearthed.

“As a large part of the State was affected by the rumour, identifying the mischief mongers and the place from where it originated remains a difficult task,” said ADG (Law & order, crime) Subesh Kumar Singh on Tuesday. Around Monday midnight, people living in over two dozen districts, including Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Bareilly, Unnao, etc, started receiving calls from their kin and friends about an impending earthquake.

By the time they could come to terms with the development, followed another shocker — those sleeping during at the time would turn into stone statues. The mischief mongers asked people to remain awake and come out in the open to stay alive.

Source: The Anomalist

This is crazy! What kind of place is this where superstition runs rampant and people regularly lapse into mass panic over nonsense?  Lucknow seems to be a relatively modern place so I’m at a loss as to why these things happen. Is it just a small portion of the population that is affected? Does the media hone in on these outrageous stories? Or, are other countries just as irrational?

  1 comment for “Lucknow, India panic over irrational claims

  1. Massachusetts
    January 11, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    I suspect it’s a smaller percentage of the population who really believe. But then again, possessing advanced technology doesn’t necessarily preclude unusual and erroneous beliefs. There could be some kernel of truth here too, like someone had a sleep paralysis / apnea experience that was disturbing and frightening and told others, and then the story spun out of control among a pool of people who lack much scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills (probably not the whole population by any means.)

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