Myths and their origination


    Hatkoti. Photo by: Dhaleta Surender Kumar

    I always wondered how rumors spread and how myths originate. From word of mouth… obviously.

    Then with the Internet age, it spreads even much faster, without any cross-checking. With easy access to knowledge, it is much easier to check the copyright issues.

    Anyways, copyright is not the issue here. The issue is myths.

    Five-six years ago, while I was working with, as a Content Developer, we were working on a project to write articles on Travel destinations. One of the destination was Hatkoti. I asked my boss to let me handle that as it was an off-beat destination and I was very much familiar with that place — grown up with that place. Now look for Hatkoti on the Internet today and you will find that every article on the net says one thing –that the confluence of River Pabbar, Bishkalti and Raanvti make Hatkoti sacred as a Sangam. Right… but then it adds Bishkalti means — Vish-khalti, or Poison oozing, and the water of the stream is some what grayish. Now this is the myth I’m talking about.

    My dad had talked to me when I was a kid about the stream and he had told me that once people had died after drinking the water from that stream, since then it’s name has been Bishkalti. What they had died of, he wasn’t sure and probably no one would be. Probably it must have been the food they ate or something else but the stream became the culprit and got convicted.

    And my figment of imagination added to the punishment. While writing the article, to heighten the myth, I wrote… “The water of Bishkalti is somewhat grayish and it is believed that it oozes out poison.” The colour was totally a figment of my imagination and poison oozing too can be said so… but now you’ll find this myth all over the Internet. Each article on Hatkoti on Internet has this information, with a little words changed here and there or the language changed. So the myth spreads.

    Recently, the media, whether be print or electronic got caught in this rumor and the race to be the first to carry the news, without verifying and cross-checking… when they carried the news of Saurabh Singh clearing the NASA exam, which according to him had been cleared by Kalpana Chawla and President of India — Abdul Kalam. NASA came out with a clarification that it holds no such exam and the President’s House too came out with a notification, that the President never gave any such exam, if it ever existed. I, while working with India Post too was caught in this rumour-mill. Immediately, I took information from, and, rewrote it in my language and passed on that information to NRIs in USA as India Post News Service report.

    Finally, when Kalam came out with that notification, the media started cross-checking. Now what was the source of that information, nobody knows, or only Saurabh Singh knows better. But the damage was done and he had become a Hero for the time being. Though he stands today as TAINTED.

    But as far as the grayish colour of Bishkalti is concerned, I am the culprit. Poison-oozing may be apt to the name… if translated to English, but that’s how myth circulate and originate. The grayish colour is forever on the Internet now. I don’t think that anybody had tried to cross-check. Not even me… How would I have… when it was a figment of my imagination.

    But somehow, this figment of my imagination had got too drained into my head… so much that I too had started believing that. It was only two years ago, when my Bua died and I went for her “Asthi Pravah” to Bishkalti that I realised, what damage I had done. The water was crystal clear as ever… gurgling and fit for fishes to swim and human beings to drink.

    But yes, during monsoons any stream or river can be expected to be muddy as it carries along silt.

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    A perfect story-teller, who is madly in love with the hills. Shimla is his first love, and probably the last too. Won't get tired reading Rudyard Kipling. Hopes to pick up poetry again soon.

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