Korauna villagers endure stigma

People in a village located about 90 kilometres from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, are in deep distress.

Almost overnight, they and the village have become objects of ridicule - all because the village's name Korauna sounds similar to the deadly coronavirus which has India in lockdown.

"Even our relatives joke about the similarity and tell us that they will not visit Korauna," said Mr Raju Tripathi, who resides in the village.

"If we tell strangers the name of our village, we are greeted with amused glances.

"One person asked me over the phone, 'How are you? Are you still alive?' when I told him that I am from Korauna."

Mr Rajan, another resident, said that "people are terrified in our village".

"When we tell people we are from Korauna, they avoid us. They don't understand that it's a village, not someone infected with the virus," he said. "Other people are so scared that they don't even want to answer our telephone calls."

Mr Sunil, another resident, told ANI: "If we are out on the roads and the police enquire where we are headed to and we tell them that we are going to Korauna, they get angry. What can we do if our village has such a name?"

Korauna village is the first stop in the 84-Kosi Parikrama - a pilgrimage that is undertaken by thousands a fortnight after the Holi festival every year.

"The name of the village has existed for decades, but suddenly we are being treated as pariahs," said Mr Gokul, a farmer.

The village, located in Misrikh township, has a population of about 9,000. It has a government primary school and other basic amenities.

It is one of the better-developed villages in Uttar Pradesh and has not recorded a case of Covid-19.

"Once the lockdown is lifted, the villagers will get together and request the government to change the name of the village," said Mr Gokul.

"In any case, Korauna does not mean anything, and the corona memory is going to live for long.

"It is better to opt for a change of name rather than face barbs and ridicule in the coming years."

Indo-Asian News Service