Believe in them or not. They exist!
By Sapna Kashyap/fnbworld bureau
Superstitions transcend race, religion and geographical boundaries. All humans have their set of such 'false' beliefs - and a commonly witnessed phenomenon. They can be seen anywhere, anytime, whether at home, in office or on the way. People of every caste, creed or community are superstitious. Though the forms of superstition may vary, their presence can be felt in every society. It is a universal phenomenon. Even the people of highly rational West are superstitious.
To stop all of a sudden to see a black cat crossing our path is a widely seen phenomenon in the Indian society. It is almost universally believed that this is likely to bring failure to the mission of the person who is going to cross the road after it first being crossed by the cat. Similarly, the howl of the dog at the deadly hours of night instills a feeling of horror resulting from the fear of the death of some dear one.
Ample evidence of superstitious practices can be found even in the earliest human settlements in the later Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. The presence of lots of things of day-to-day needs in the graves of those periods confirms the superstitious practices rampant in the contemporary society. Even in the highly developed civilization of Indus Valley, amulets were used possibly to ward off evil forces or unforeseen disasters.
Almost similar superstitions had also been practised in the Egyptian civilization. It has been found that a large number of things of day-to-day requirements, generally used by the person were put into the graves by the side of the dead who would need them all in his next life. Superstitions were also practised by the adventurous and courageous Aryans of the Rig Vedic period.
Repeated co-incidences helped in rooting the superstitions. For instance, if a person while going out on a certain mission comes across a particular animal, and by chance he is unsuccessful, he begins to believe that it was caused by the animal which he happened to see. If the incident is repeated this is established that animal is a bad omen. Or conversely, success associated with a series of coincidental happenings also creates a superstition. Indian religious system also contributed in its propagation, by following totemism. This sometimes gives superstitions the status and sanctity of religion.
Even with the spread of education and awareness, superstitions have not been driven out of the society. They hold their ugly grip over educated and uneducated alike. It has such strong grip over the mind of the people that despite scientific and technological advancement they could not make themselves free from them. Their presence is felt all across the globe despite technological progress made in various fields of life. But the spread of education has, undoubtedly, acted as a deterrent against superstitions.
It is ironic that advanced West is not free from the ills of superstitions. In China and other western countries, number ’13' is considered to bring ill-luck. If this number is allotted to a car, the owner of the car hesitates to drive the car and he is always under fear and tension of accidents. A person, who gets the house of this number, hardly makes him free from the fear of death, disease, damage and destruction. Furthermore, passing under the ladder is considered unlucky by the people of western culture, but this is not the same in case of Indians.
The mode of practice of superstitions in India is different from the West. In India, it is a common superstitious practice to hang an ugly fearsome face usually painted on the back of an earthern vessel (nazar-pattu) to the facade of the house, to save a newly-built house from the jealous/evil eye. In India people do not like to be called from behind or asked a question just as they are setting out for some work. Hanging artificial or used black shoes at the back of vehicles-a truck or bus is a very common sight in India. The same goes for a short garland made of lemons and green-chillies!
Often there is an outbreak of epidemic disease in India; the imprint of cowdung at the doorway is a widely practised superstition in India, in urban and rural society alike. The sacrifice of innocent children in the name of certain religious practice is the gruesome form of superstition in India which very often catches the headlines of several dailies. In short, the culture of superstitious practice in India is very rich and varied.
Some of the superstitions are frightful and scary. In Indian society, a widow’s plight is pathetic. She is treated as an object to be hurt and humiliated as catching the sight of widow in the urban areas, while on the way is considered unlucky. Her presence is disliked on some auspicious occasions like marriage or religious festivities.
In India, a bride often has to pay a heavy price if immediately after her marriage the death of her husband or any other member of her husband’s family occurs. She is taunted, ridiculed, tortured for the rest of her life. These superstitious practices surely have a negative impact on the progress and development of society as well as on the individual.
Some of the more common superstitions are:
1. Coconut tree, Ashoka Tree, Banyan Tree etc are considered sacred.
2. The "VAASTU" as a guide for floor plans of a house is a superstitious system,
3. East is the most preferred direction for all activities (I've seen some of them preferring to sit facing east even in the office),
6. Do not proceed , if a cat crosses your way, it brings omen
7. Looking at cat in the morning is jinx.
8. Looking at mother's face or picture of God as soon as you open your eyes in the morning will bring good luck for that day,
9. Giving or taking anything in the left hand is bad (you know what left hand is used for in India )
10. Never ask the question "where are you going? " while they are leaving house, its purpose will not be fulfilled.
11. Repeatedly yawning indicates that someone is remembering you,
12. Sneezing odd no. of times indicates that something bad could happen,
13. Sneezing once when you make a statement indicates that what you said is true,
14. If a lizard makes a sound when you make a statement, it indicates that what you said is true ,
15. Tuesdays & Saturdays are inauspicious for doing anything new or good deeds,
16. Monday is inauspicious day for shaving and thursday is inauspicious day for washing one's hair.
17. You can't have non-veg on certain days,
18. There is particular timing during daytime called "Rahukaal", where it is considered as inauspicious for doing anything new or good deeds,
19. There are two months in a year which are inauspicious,
20. No moon day is inauspicious,
21. Right eye twitching is good for men, left eye twitching is good for women.
22. Never sleep with your head facing north or west,
23. cawing of crow or itching of right palm indicates arrival of guests,
24. Never wash the front courtyard immediately after someone leaves the house,
25. If there is itching on the right palm (left for female) you can get some money or favors,
26. Unusual winking of eyes is a symptom of ill, luck or decease.
27. Going below the ladder is jinx.
28. Never cross or jump across the worshiped pumpkins or coconuts on the road.
29. During house warming ceremony, the milk is heated in a vessel in such a way that it will overflow towards east direction,
30. If you see cat giving birth, then it brings the good luck.
31. Open the front door during dusk, so that Lakshmi (fortune) enters the house
32. Never sweep the house during night time or Lakshmi (fortune) will not enter your house.
33. Cutting nails, hair-cutting, shaving or stitching cloth after sun set is a bad practice, (obviously coz of no electricity during old times, doing these in the dark could be dangerous, but its still believed to be a bad practice).
34. Taking a teaspoon of curd with litle sugar before exam will bring good luck
to users Like shrihara's post.
35. Turning on the lights in all rooms of the house so that Lakshmi or Goddess of Wealth doesn't miss your house.
36. Coming across a widow is bad luck.
37. Sneezing while starting to some place will make you reach that place late unless you sit down and have some water.
38. There are whole bunch of superstitions associated with lizards. Depending on what part of your body they come into contact different things will happen.
39. If a dog starts wailing then something bad will happen.
40.If one is carrying cooked meat or non vegetarian food…the small piece of coal is to be kept along with it to avoid ill effect from bad evils.
41.This is the belief in most of rural area in Maharashtra state of India.
42.No nails are to be cut on Monday or Saturday.
43.Cutting nails on Tuesday brings prosperity.
44.No new or good work should be started or done on Saturday.
45.A sister having brother should not wear a chipped or cracked bangle and also should not wash her hairs on Saturday.
46. Itching over palm especially little finger is the sign of getting money.
Of late, the urban Indians are developing an attitude to see and judge things based on reason. Moreover, the fast-paced modern life leaves little time for superstitions. Try believing in any of the superstitions and be sure, soon enough you will know that you fooled yourself!