Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Pandemic Pūjā: Corona Devi, Coronasur, and How a Viral Twitter Campaign Affirms Analog Ritual Power

Sundaram, Dheepa

In response to COVID-19, “Coronasur” (virus as a malevolent force) and “Corona Devi” (goddess of contagion who combats Corona) have emerged, reprising traditional Hindu notions of “good” defeating “evil.” Many Hindus hold the view that virtual sacred spaces must have an analog referent that remains the seat of ritual power. Women in rural villages in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Assam have venerated Corona Devi/Corona Mai to alleviate the devastating impacts of the virus. These goddesses of contagion have gained popularity and sparked global curiosity through social media, spurring a viral corpus of tweets that spotlight physical temples and analog rituals. This essay argues that social media posts on Twitter that popularize rituals to Corona Devi create a digital corpus of posts, which in turn strengthens efforts to reopen material sacred spaces, affirming their value and efficacy in combatting COVID-19 and underscoring the economic implications of India’s temple economy.