I remember two instances during my childhood when people in my area believed in religious hoaxes and they got spread quickly.
One was Lord Ganesha drinking milk. I returned from school one day to find everyone in my apartments talking about Lord Ganesha drinking milk. Believing it, I too went to the nearby Vinayagar Temple (along with my friends) to check it out.
In the Temple, demonstrations were already in full swing. When we went, the pujari was feeding Lord Ganesha with spoons and spoons of milk, and to our awe, the God was drinking it! At least that’s what we thought as the milk was getting emptied quickly from the spoon when it was placed at the end of his trunk.
Later on, in the newspapers they wrote that the milk was actually flowing down behind the statue’s body, hence we couldn’t see. Think about it, the pujaris should have been aware of what was going on — especially since all the milk was flowing down. Instead of telling us the truth, they took full advantage of the situation and (I guess) collected a handsome amount of money from the public on that day.
I know there is nothing illegal about this, but when Pujaris take advantage of such a hoax, won’t people feel betrayed (when they eventually learn the truth)?
I remember another instance where a small Temple was rumored to be shaking. Everyone around my area was talking about it. I too went and saw. The Temple was like a small room covered on three sides with frail walls and it was standing on a large empty ground.
The shake was actually mild and I couldn’t recognize it much. Later we came to know that due to the thin wall and a weak foundation, the Temple (walls) was shaking when there was a strong wind. Talk about taking advantage of (what was actually) a fault!
We were kids, so we believed in these hoaxes. But I find it mysterious on why adults believed in them. Did they really believe or did they think of it as a fun time-pass, especially in those days when ‘Reality TV’ was not existent?
Let me know if you remember any hoaxes that spread around your area, when you were young.