A 2:47-minute video is viral on social media with the claim that monks in China sprinkled a mixture of cow dung and cow urine from helicopters while chanting mantras. The video is circulating as India observes complete lockdown, barring essential services, due to the coronavirus pandemic and China eases restricted movement owing to a decline in confirmed cases.

The video was shared by a Facebook page ‘Narendra Modi fans from Karunadu’ managed by fake news portal Postcard News. It is viral with the same claim on Facebook. The accompanying message reads, “Chinese priests sprinkling a mixture of cow urine mixed with cow dung and mango tree leaves from helicopters while chanting mantras. If it was in India, they will say that it is a superstition and will call them, Sanghi, cow dung eater and cow urine drinker.”

[Translated from: “ಚೀನಾದವರು ವಿಮಾನದಿಂದ ಭೂಮಿಗೆ ಹರಿಶಿನ ನೀರು ಮತ್ತು ಗೋ ಮೂತ್ರದಿಂದ ಮಂತ್ರ ಪೂರ್ವಕ ಪುಣ್ಯಾಹ ಮಾಡಿ ಮಾವಿನ ಎಲೆಯಿಂದ ಪ್ರೋಕ್ಷಣೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಕರೋನಾ ವೈರಸ್ ನಿಂದ ಕಾಪಾಡಲು ಪ್ರಾರ್ಥನೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಚೀನಾದವರು ಮಾಡಿದರೆ ದೈವ ನಂಬಿಕೆ. ಭಾರತದವರು ಮಾಡಿದರೆ ಮೂಢ ನಂಬಿಕೆ”]

ಚೀನಾದವರು ವಿಮಾನದಿಂದ ಭೂಮಿಗೆ ಹರಿಶಿನ ನೀರು ಮತ್ತು ಗೋ ಮೂತ್ರದಿಂದ ಮಂತ್ರ ಪೂರ್ವಕ ಪುಣ್ಯಾಹ ಮಾಡಿ ಮಾವಿನ ಎಲೆಯಿಂದ ಪ್ರೋಕ್ಷಣೆ ಮಾಡಿ ಕರೋನಾ ವೈರಸ್ ನಿಂದ ಕಾಪಾಡಲು ಪ್ರಾರ್ಥನೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

ಚೀನಾದವರು ಮಾಡಿದರೆ ದೈವ ನಂಬಿಕೆ. ಭಾರತದವರು ಮಾಡಿದರೆ ಮೂಢ ನಂಬಿಕೆ.

Posted by Narendra Modi fans from Karunadu on Monday, 23 March 2020

The video is also viral with a Tamil text, “Using turmeric water and mango tree leaves in helicopters they are chanting vedic mantras and in China they are destroying corona. (மஞ்ச தண்ணி மாவிலை தர்பை வைத்து ஹெலிகாப்டர் மூலமாக வேத மந்திரம் ஒத சீனாவில் கொரோனாவை விரட்டுகிறார்கள் பாருங்கள்.)

The viral claim in Hindi reads, “चीन ने हळदी व गोमूत्र ह्याची मंत्रोकत फवारणी सुरू केली तेच आपण केलं तर टिंगल टवाळी सुरू होते.”

Similarly in Malayalam : “ഗോമൂത്രവും ചാണകവെള്ളവും മാവിലയും ചേർത്ത മിശ്രിതം – ത്രി പിടക സൂക്തങ്ങൾ ചൊല്ലിക്കൊണ്ട് പുരോഹിതർ ഹെലികോപ്ടറിലിരുന്ന് ചീനയിലെ അതിർത്തിയിൽ മ്യാൻമറിന്റെ വായു മണ്ഡലത്തിൽ തളിക്കുന്നു.. ഇത് ഇവിടെയാണെങ്കിൽ ” അന്ധവിശ്വാസം -സംഘി – ചാണകം – പശു മൂത്രം കുടിയൻ എന്നൊക്കെ കേൾക്കേണ്ടി വരും”

Alt News has received several requests on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application to fact-check the video.

Old, unrelated video from Myanmar

Alt News analysed the viral video using InVid. We broke the video into individual frames and reverse searched one of them on Google with the keywords ‘monks helicopter’. We came across a blog ‘Insight Myanmar’ which carried a March 17, 2020, YouTube link by Shwe Lan Ga Lay where it was claimed that Burmese monks sprinkled water and chanted mantras in Myanmar in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Alt News also came across an MSN article with the following editor’s note: “Several readers have suggested that the original video predates the coronavirus outbreak. We take the accuracy of our reporting seriously and are attempting to verify this at this time.”

We reached out to Myanmar-based journalist Cape Diamond who shared with us a Facebook post from December 4, 2019. Upon further searching, we found the Facebook profile of the person who took the video and uploaded it on the social networking platform. This too was shared on December 4 and had no mention of coronavirus.

ကျနော်တို့ မိုးကုတ်မြို့ရှုခင်းကို

Posted by သခင္မ်ိဳး ပတၱျမားေျမေအာင္ on Wednesday, 4 December 2019

We also found the Facebook profile of one of the monks – the one on the extreme right highlighted in green. The other person highlighted in green, the one with a headset, is the person who shot the video.

The video predates the coronavirus outbreak. Only in the first week of January 2020 did Chinese scientists report that the pneumonia-like cases cropping up in the country were due to a new strain of SARS-COV, termed the novel coronavirus. Myanmar confirmed its first coronavirus case on March 23, 2020.

Therefore, an unrelated video of Burmese monks chanting religious verses and sprinkling holy water from a helicopter has been falsely shared as Chinese monks who poured cow urine to curb the viral infection.

Note: The number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus in India is over 1,000 This has caused the government to impose a complete restriction on movement apart from essential services. Globally, more than 6 lakh confirmed cases and close to 31,000 deaths have been reported. There is a growing sense of panic among citizens, causing them to fall for a variety of online misinformation – misleading images and videos rousing fear or medical misinformation promoting pseudoscience and invalid treatments. While your intentions may be pure, misinformation, spread especially during a global pandemic, can take lives. We request our readers to practice caution and not forward unverified messages on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

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Co-founder, Alt News
Co-Founder Alt News, I can be reached via Twitter at https://twitter.com/zoo_bear