Unbelievable as that may sound, if one is to go by the mass hysteria presently on at Mahim creek on the coast of Mumbai, then it is nothing short of a miracle that the thronging crowds claim, has occurred.
Last night at about 11.00p.m., close to the Dargah of Pir Maqdoom Shah, a revered Muslim saint believed to have lived around 300years ago, sea water lost its salinity. Word spread like wild fire and soon thousands congregated, bathing in the sea and drinking what they now claimed to be the blessings of the ‘Baba’.
Why is it that someone decided to test the salinity level of water that night, was a question that perplexed us. The governmental agencies have been there all morning, attempting to logicalise the so called miraculous event.
Experts have propounded various theories. One of which is that high level of rainfall might have reduced the level of salt. A theory which has not gone down well with the believers who aver that in this event, the whole coastline extending from Versova to Colaba should have been de-salinated. Why was it happeing directly in front of the holy shrine?
Another theory doing the rounds is that toxic content from the Mithi river close by had found its way into the sea and had chemically reduced the level of salt from 10000 ppm to 600. This revelation is not only plausible but extremely devastating especially coupled with the visual of men, women, chidren helping themselves to large intakes of the clearly muddy polluted water, filling it in bottles as a panacea for future illness and bringing back families for more.
The Muslims who have come here are of the firm belief that this was in fact a repeat occurrence that had taken place 26 years back, during this time. They consider it a validation of the power of their saint .
De-salinating a part of the sea is no mean task. The government has been attempting to do the same for almost three decades. While geologists are pooh-poohing the folly of reading spiritual context in what they consider a natural phenomenon of low density river water mixing with sea water, the believers with their faces gleaming at having experienced a miracle, have not lost thier enthusiasm or devotion.
Faith converted poison served to Mirabai into nectar. While those of us, entrenched in our cynincism and intellegence, ridicule this gullibility by naive residents as nothing short of an open armed invitation to disease, those revelling in the ‘holy’ sea water, without a care in the world are basking in the exemplification of what they consider one of the greatest moments of their life,
India lives on so many levels, it never fails to astound the observer. The same lot would perhaps not touch a glass of water in their homes without boiling it and yet they have no hesitation in bathing and consuming simultaneously, in the hope of what? Salvation? The hue and cry over colas and their toxicity seems hopelessly over dramatised in this context.
While the channels are issuing continuous warnings of the spread of typhoid, jaundice, and other diseases through what is analysed to be highly un potable water, crowds are unabatedly thronging the sea side.
How we thirst for miracles? Not realising that being alive was the greatest of them all.
Update: Valsad, in Gujarat, say residents has sampled sweet water from the sea as well.
Meanwhile the BMC has confirmed high levels of toxicity present in the water which the population is imbibing irrationally..an outbreak of epidemic is not far away. Although those who have been drinking it since last night have not reported health problems,consistently confirming their averments that this was indeed a miracle..
Heard of the ‘placebo effect’ ?