India Lockdown (cordon sanitaire): Why 40 days ( 25th March to 3rd May)?
The word quarantine comes from quarantena, meaning “forty days”, used in the 14th-15th-century Venetian language and designating the period that all ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death plague epidemic
— By Dr KK Aggarwal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced extension of nation-wide lockdown till May 3, to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
Asserting the need for a strict lockdown to ensure that COVID-19 did not spread to a single new area, PM Modi said that citizens have confronted every difficulty to ensure that India was ahead in the fight against the virus. He further exhorted the citizens to bear with the lockdown for another 19 days i.e. May 3.
Altogether, the total period of lockdown comes to 40 days.
Dr KK Aggarwal, the President of CMAAO and Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) has an interesting take on 40-days of lockdown to fight this unprecedented crisis. He succinctly explains the science and religious logic behind the move.
Science behind 40 day lockdown
The word quarantine comes from quarantena, meaning “forty days”, used in the 14th-15th-century Venetian language and designating the period that all ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death plague epidemic; it followed the trentino, or thirty-day isolation period, first imposed in 1377 in the Republic of Ragusa, Dalmatia (modern Dubrovnik in Croatia).
Merriam-Webster gives various meanings to the noun form, including “a period of 40 days”, several relating to ships, “a state of enforced isolation”, and as “a restriction on the movement of people and goods which is intended to prevent the spread of disease or pests”.
Quarantine is distinct from medical isolation, in which those confirmed to be infected with a communicable disease are isolated from the healthy population.
Quarantine may be used interchangeably with cordon sanitaire, and although the terms are related, cordon sanitaire refers to the restriction of movement of people into or out of a defined geographic area, such as a community, in order to prevent an infection from spreading. [Wikipedia}
40 days also has religious significance
1. Jesus Christ spent 40 days in desert as intense tapas
2. Buddha also fasted for 40 days and nights in the wilderness
3. Even Prophet Muhammed had fasted for 40 days in a cave
4. Muslims fast and pray for 40 days during the Ramzan period.
5. So do Christians fast and pray during the 40-day Lent season, before Good Friday and Easter.
6. The devotees of Swami Ayyappa visit Sabarimala in Kerala after observing strictly 40 days fasting.
7. In Hinduism fasting of 40 days is called the period One ‘Mandal kal’…. Kal means a period and Mandal kal means a period of 40 days.
8. The Sindhi Hindu community commemorate a festival of thanks to God called Chaliha Sahib. It lasts for 40 days.
9. Zoroastrians also have a 40-day formula for having prayers answered. It is known as the “Chalisa” or the 40 Day Ritual.
10. Guru Nanak spent 40 days with a Sufi saint in Nahoria Bazar, Sirsa. He undertook a Chilla / Chalisa (40 days spent worshipping God) at Tilla Jogian, near Bhera Pakistan
11. In Hanuman Chalisa, the word chalisa is ‘chalis’ meaning 40. It contains 40 stanzas and devotees of Hanumanji recites these 40 stanzas for 40 days.
12. Mulla Husayn (of Bahai Faith) spent 40 days fasting and praying before leaving Karbala. [Wikipedia]
((The writer is President, CMAAO, HCFI and Past national President IMA))