I was able to read carefully this part of your mail only today though you had sent it on the 7th. I did not know whether to laugh or weep when I read it. It is one more myth to defend another myth that has been exploded.
You claim that 13 lakh women suffered the fate of witches on the 13th of the month and that is how 13 came to be treated as evil. All that I can say is that it is a joke.
1. Firstly, is 13 lakh linked to it? If you had studied this theme a little more you would have known that LAKH and CRORE are used in counting only in South Asia. In Europe they go straight from thousand to million and billion (formerly milliard in British English). So there is no question of 13 or any other lakh being linked to the unlucky number 13. They do not know what a lakh is.
2. Secondly, if you had studied your history you would have known that the number 13 did not become unlucky with witch hunting which was in the 16th century. Go back to Cicero and other authors of the 1st century (which comes 15 centuries before the 16th century and you will read about the Ides which was the 13th of every month except in March which was the 15th. Number 13 was considered unlucky in those days. So your statement that 13 came to be considered unlucky because of its link with witch hunting becomes ridiculous.
3. Equally ridiculous is your statement that missionaries brought this superstition to India.
Most importantly, let us have a strong enough ethical conscience not to fall in the trap of some ridiculous pseudo-history to hide the fact that the devadasi system is unjust today. Even if all that you say were to be true (it is not) the Devadasi system would not become just today. Let us have the courage to fight for justice for them and not fall in the trap of pseudo-history to hide its evil.
Dr Walter Fernandes Director, North Eastern Social Research Centre 110 Kharghuli Road (1st floor) Guwahati 781004 Assam, India