Sounds like the 17th century? Nope, 21st century India. The explanation of mass psychogenic illness hasn’t reached here yet.
Nearly 170 students of the school have not been attending classes for the past five days after three children fainted here on seeing the “ghost” of a girl. To local government administration’s horror, the parents of other children stopped sending their wards to school considering an ‘evil spirit’ the reason behind the trio’s fainting.
The story of the girl’s ghost and trio’s fainting spread in this small village like a wildfire. The villagers stopped sending children to school since February 12. As the news reached the local education department officers, they arrived in the village and tried to persuade them to send the children to school. They argued that the school was safe and not being haunted by any ghost.
However, the villagers insisted on performing special prayers. “They sang religious songs throughout Saturday night. In presence of some priests, special prayers, chanting of mantras and havan were performed on Sunday. The villagers have now agreed to send children to school from Monday onwards,” said the officer.
So three girls say they saw a ghost in the bathroom and they fainted. One quote: “They say that they saw a girl who pushed them towards the toilet. As the three children fainted simultaneously, it caused panic in the school. How was it possible that three children would faint at the same time without any reason,” said the villager.”
Easy answer: mass hysteria, more properly known as mass psychogenic illness.
During the ritual which seemed to be a last resort to appease the superstitious, a villager named Gopal Kumar was possessed by local deity “Tejaji”. This served to reinforce the belief that the place was inhabited by evil spirits.
How is this type of disruptive superstition overcome? Education and time. Nothing else. Tonk has an average literacy rate of 53%, lower than the national average. Female literacy is 43% compared to the male rate of 63%. [source]
Here are three more examples that occur in schools which are the most common places we see this occurring, mostly in females. This happens even in western countries extremely frequently.
- Mass hysteria sex ed
- Teacher, teacher, there’s a hairy creature!
- Examination phobia triggers “demons” in Namibia school
For many more examples just here on this site, see the category “mass hysteria“.