What is Shit?

World Toilet Day is an official observance day by the United Nations that looks to raise awareness on the sanitation issues facing the world.

Image result for world toilet day

The day, observed on November 19th, was initially instituted by the World Toilet Organization, committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide.

The UN later adopted this day, which it celebrates as World Toilet Day.

On a humorous note, let us first look at the “serious” side of Shit.

Shit-A Serious Matter

What is Shit? How did this word come about? Are you amused by these questions? Then, probably you didn’t know the history of this word. The humour here is indeed a serious matter.

Malam, Malinita

The Indian word for Shit is “Malam”, meaning ‘filth, dirt’ which is removed, not only for humans, but for all animals. Malam, Malinita also means to ‘steam up, heat up’, meaning that which had the capacity to blow up.

Shipping Manure

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the commercial fertilizers had not yet come to be. Large shipments of manure were order of the day. In this period, ship was a major means of transport.

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Ship

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Manure

The disaster

Manure was always dried before shipping, for, in dry state, it weighed less than in wet.

Once, a disaster was encountered, when the sea water touched the manure bundles in a ship. The process of fermentation began again, the byproduct being the highly combustible Methane Gas.

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Manure Produces the Highly inflammable Methane

The manure bundles were stored below the decks. The unimaginable happened. Methane began to build underneath the docks. Very soon, a loud ‘Boom’ was heard.

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Before one could come to terms with the inevitable, the whole ship was on fire and destroyed.

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Methane gas led to fire

Many ships were destroyed in this manner, before it was actually understood, what was happening.

Shit and then Ship

After discovering the peril these manure ships faced, these bundles were always stamped with the instruction, ‘Stow High In Transit’ – S.H.I.T, meaning, ‘load the manure bundles high enough from lower decks while loading’, so that, sea waters do not reach the Methane generating Cargo.Thus evolved the term Shit, ‘Stow High In Transit’. This term has remained to this day.

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On a funny note, “Cargo loaders had to ‘Shit’ manure for safety reasons.”

The word ‘Shit’ soon came to be used as a derogatory word for ‘irritation”, for the number of ships that it had blow up.

Malam, Malinita

The Indian word for Shit is “Malam”, meaning ‘filth, dirt’ which is removed, not only for humans, but for all animals. Malam, Malinita also means to ‘steam up, heat up’, meaning that which had the capacity to blow up.

Ancient India had a good drainage and Sewage system towards the disposal of Malam.

In other words, India had a Sewage system that was one of the best in the world.

Sewage System in Ancient India

Engineers of today admire the drainage facility of historical site of India, made 4500 years ago.

The ancient Indian cities had an excellent, drainage system even 5000 years back. Every house in ancient Indian cities had a private toilet.

The common belief is that the world did not have a structured drainage system upto 1800 CE. However, the ruins and sites of ancient Indian civilizations tell a different story. If we look at the archaeological sites of the Sindhu-Sarasvati basin in the North Western part of India, of the same historical period of about 5000 years back, we find that we have the Harappa and Mohenjodaro sites along with a couple of hundred other excavated sites. These sites show us how developed the ancient Indian cities were.

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Sindhu Sarasvati Civilization Region

Excellent Drainage Facility

What has been seen at Mohenjodaro and Harappa has amazed many. One of the most interesting aspects of these cities was their excellent drainage system. These cities had a systematic mechanism in place for rubbish collection and waste disposal. Moreover, every house of these cities had a private bathroom. This was seen in a thousand other excavation sites across the land.

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Drainage System in Mohenjodaro town

Admiration of modern Engineers

Engineers of today admire the design of the drainage system of the historical sites of India, made 5000 years ago. It draws the admiration of our modern engineers for its wholistic plan, design and attention to the minutest details. Such meticulously planned cities with sophisticated sewage system have not been seen anywhere in the world until the dawn of the modern era.

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India’s ancient drainage system lies in ruins at Harappa and Mohenjodaro

This is an indication that the people of the ancient Indian civilizations were prosperous on all counts.

More on India’s ancient sanitation system, in our book, You Turn India.

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India had always been a Clean Country

Cleanliness was a priority in Indian from ancient times. It is indeed a myth to suggest that since India was poor, She was always dirty. India was a prosperous country before the British took over. We have seen above that India has a sophisticated sewage disposal and toilet system from ancient times. It is somewhere in between, during the colonial rule, that filthiness crept in, as the British crushed India’s prosperity.

Swachh Bharat and Toilets

Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi seeks to bring back that cleanliness, which was only next to godliness in this land, through the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Building of toilets is one aspect of this program. On this World Toilet Day, let us spread awareness on the importance of toilets and sanitation, and work towards the removal of open defecation, so that we become a clean country once again.

– Dr. D.K. Hari & Dr. D.K. Hema Hari

 

One thought on “What is Shit?

  1. That may be one colonial era explanation but the english word “Shit” comes from the Sanskrit word “Khshit” meaning waste or Goo and the colonists had & have difficulty pronouncing KH and therefore dropped it from common usage thereby leaving behind their “Shit”.

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