Practicing Religion and Covid-19 Pandemic
Throughout history, the world has witnessed the worst plagues and epidemics that have devastated mankind. The Prehistoric Epidemic: Circa (3000 B.C.) in China and the Zika Virus Epidemic (2015) in South America and Central America are two of the worst epidemics and pandemics in history, spanning prehistoric to modern times. Another threat to humanity has been first observed in the form of Coronavirus also known as COVID-19. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus that was first discovered in China’s Wuhan district. The Coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is a pandemic that has infected more than 192 countries and territories globally.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to multiply in India during the second wave, one thing is clear that the current situation proved to have a profound impact not only on the physical health and the economic condition but also on psychological health across the nation. Its impact has spared all segments of the population, nevertheless one of the most vulnerable populations to the impact of COVID-19 is infants and children. The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease are more vulnerable to develop serious illness. Moreover, the determinants such as age, sex, and existing medical conditions also proved significant aspects to understand the seriousness of the disease. After imposing stringent and strict measures by the Central and State Government, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted to be disastrous to India in terms of the number of active COVID-19 positive cases as well as mortality cases.
To prevent the spread of the disease following prevention measures such as washing hands, alcohol-based sanitizers, and social isolation were adopted. Moreover, people employed various strategies such as relaxation techniques (deep breathing, meditation, and yoga), exercise, gardening, reading books, reaching out to others, to deal with the current situation well. Of all, benefits of performing religious practices like sermons, prayers, meditations, commemoration or veneration (of deities and/or saints), funerary services, trances, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, public services, etc. to deal with stress and the negative consequences of a current pandemic cannot be underestimated. Performing religious practices encompasses religiously framed cognitive, emotional, or behavioral responses to distress, that arise out of one’s religion or spirituality”. Furthermore, religious practices or rituals often derive directly from a person’s religious belief system and contribute to the development of meaning and the formation of positive and negative meanings of stressful circumstances and events. According to studies, religious rituals are often used by people to cope with daily stressors as well as life-changing situations. The underlying belief of the religion lies in the assumption that it acts as a safeguard that protects one from distressful circumstances of life. Closeness to God, peace, hope, achieving meaning in life, connection to others, self-development, and personal restraint are some of the benefits observed of practicing religious rituals. In the premise of the current situation, practicing religious rituals such as prayers, sermons, meditation, etc. can prove beneficial to people cope with the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic by
- Inspiring to reframe the current situation constructively.
- Getting them to see a disaster as an opportunity to grow closer to a greater power or change their life, which can help them get through hard times.
- Encouraging a sense of connectedness with God.
- Believing that religion connects them to something bigger than themselves. This can be accomplished by prayer, reflection, or attendance at religious service.
- Seeking God’s love, guidance, and protection.
- Seeking God’s assistance in letting go of my rage.
- Trying to figure out how God is trying to help in the current situation.
- Focusing on religion to stop worrying about problems faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Developing a sense of connection through religious rituals and prayers: Religious rituals and rites of passage can help people recognise that something significant is happening. They assist people in navigating and surviving life’s most challenging changes.
To summarise, people must use their values in a way that empowers and encourages them, as this can be extremely beneficial in terms of stress management during difficult times.