Madhya Pradesh minister Usha Thakur replied to a query on not wearing a mask amid a rise in COVID-19 cases by claiming her immunity was strong as she had been practicing ‘Agnihotra’, or ‘healing fire’, a ritual done to purify the air and surroundings, for the past 30 years.
Speaking to reporters in Khandwa on Monday, Thakur, the state’s culture minister, also said a ‘gamchha’ (cotton towel) doubled up as a mask for her.
“My daily routine for the last 30 years include performing ‘Agnihotra’ every day at sunrise and sunset, which increases my immunity so that viral attacks don’t create problems for me,” she said.
On being asked that she seemed unwell when she visited Khandwa last, Thakur said she was down with cold at the time and was not suffering from any viral attack. Her statements were widely shared on social media on Tuesday.
In May last year, she had grabbed headlines amid the pandemic by asking people to perform ‘havan’ (fire-based rituals) to purify the environment, claiming that such an act to eliminate outbreaks was a tradition since the ancient times.
In April, a video showed her performing ‘puja’ in front of the statue of Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar at Indore Airport to ward off COVID-19.
In March last year, she had said that adoption of a “Vedic lifestyle” would protect against coronavirus and conducting a ‘havan’ with cow dung cakes would keep a house sanitized for 12 hours.