Do you believe in superstitions? Do you tend to change your direction or halt your journey if a cat crosses your path? Does you mother give you a couple of spoons of curd with sugar before you leave for an important work? Do you wonder about the bunch of lemon and chillies hung on doors and vehicles? Or are you one of them who hangs those things? This country is full of superstitions and people who believe in them. In a progressive world like today’s, there is very little scope for such superstitions and fortunately the younger generation doesn’t care about these unless reiterated by the older generations! Most of the people are aware by now about the logical reasoning behind various superstitions in India.
If you still aren’t, we have the solution.
We have compiled a list of some of the most popular superstitions and the logic or scientific reasoning that some people connect them to.
1. The ‘Nimbu-Mirchi’ totka
Ever wondered if that long strip of lemon and green chillies actually wards off evil? Well, that is the purpose they are supposed to serve as per the Indian superstition norms! People put it in front of their stores, newly opened offices and even vehicles. Why? To keep away the evil or ‘buri nazar’. However, the reason why it actually came into being was more of a scientific one. The thread that passes through the lemon and chillies absorbs their juices/acids and releases them into the air. Not only did that have positive effects on the environment, but also acted as a pesticide/insecticide as the insects were kept away by its odour. When this turned into a superstition is a big question!
2. Throwing coins in fountains/rivers
In the olden golden days, the coins were made of copper. And we all know how beneficial copper is for our body. Now back in those days, people use to have water from wells or mostly, any water source available. Throwing copper coins into that source of water aimed at purifying the water to make it more beneficial for drinking as copper is known for its antimicrobial properties and effects on bacteria. When the coins stayed in the water for long, the water became safer to drink. So, the next time you throw a coin in a wishing well, just know that it won’t make your wishes come true!
3. Lizard falling onto your body
It is believed that when a lizard falls on you, it brings about bad luck. As scary as it feels while writing or reading this, it is no where near to bringing any one bad luck. The logical reasoning behind this superstition is that since lizards generally emit poisonous chemicals to protect themselves, they might transfer those to you. So coming in contact with a lizard should be avoided just to protect yourself from such poisonous stuff. Although, another superstitious belief says that when a lizard falls on you, it brings good luck. I guess we can all just laugh it off, as this notion only came up with the sole aim of cheering up the ‘victim’!
4. No sweeping after sunset
It is believed that one should not sweep the floors when it gets dark after the sunset as it causes poverty. This superstition started off as a important advice during early days when there was no electricity. At that time, people believed that in case they had dropped any valuable item on the floor and if the floor was swept, the valuable item would be thrown along with the garbage and no one would come to know as there was not light. Therefore, they used to sweep the floors only during the day time.
5. Staying indoors/do not look at the sun directly during an eclipse
On any given day, we should not look at the sun as the power emitted by the sun is much more than what our eyes can take. However, during an eclipse, even though the sun is hidden behind the moon, and while you are looking at it simply because you can, it might just take less than a mili second for the sun to pop out from behind the moon. At this moment, since your retinas will not be prepared for a sudden inflow of harsh rays of the sun, it can lead to serious damages of the eyes. It is only due to this unpreparedness that it is not advised to look at the sun directly during an eclipse unless you are wearing protective sunglasses.
6. Eating curd and sugar before stepping out
Having personally faced it and despite knowing the logical reasoning behind it, I can never seem to tell my mother to not do it. For her it is something that has to be done, whether you are going for an exam, an interview or even a holiday! This superstition has a valid reasoning and that has got nothing to with ‘good luck’ or ‘bad luck’. It was believed that since curd has cooling properties, it cools down the stomach and sugar added to it keeps our glucose levels up so that we don’t tire off soon. For these two simple reasons it was used as a perfect thing to be had before stepping out of the house for any kind of work.
7. Oops! A cat crossed my path, i gotta turn back now!
I have seen people follow this till date, not just senior citizens but young ladies too! As shocked as I was on seeing it, I wish I could give them the logic behind that reaction. In the days when people used to travel at nights on carts pulled by animals, the sudden appearance of big cats like tigers and leopards often scared the domesticated animals as their eyes would shine in all the darkness. It was then that the people would choose to halt their journey or change their direction to avoid the sightings. Over the years, the big cats became small cats! And people would change their plans or directions is they saw a cat crossing their path, without knowing the reason behind it.
8. Breaking of mirror brings bad luck
It is a common superstition that breaking of a mirror leads to bad luck, special credit to some television serials! Well, the origin of this superstition dates back to those dates when mirrors were expensive and equally fragile. To avoid breakage or negligence, people started saying such things so that those handling the mirrors would be extra careful. No scientific reason per say, this is the only logical rationale behind this superstition. It was a lie told by some people to safeguard the mirrors from any kind of manhandling.
9. Taking a bath after attending a funeral
It is called as ‘purification of the soul’, however, it is actually a way to prevent your body from any sort of infection. As we all know that when any living being dies, the body starts to decompose. So when a person dies, the people around it become exposed to the bacteria which participate in the decomposition of the body of the dead person. When they leave the funeral venue or the cremation ground, they should take a bath before touching anything or anybody so that they germs do not get transferred to anything else.
10. No haircut on Tuesdays!
This popular belief dates back to those days when most the population was engaged in farming. The farmers would retired on Mondays after a week of rough work and complete their chores, cleaning and pending haircuts. And because of this, the barbers did not have any jobs on the next day i.e. Tuesday and ended up closing their shops. Therefore, taking a haircut on Tuesdays has nothing to do with luck, its just a routine that was followed in the olden days which was given a different direction in the later years.
These superstitions do not only exist in the interiors or rural areas of our country, but also in a lot of urban set ups. In the name of luck, people go to various lengths from organizing havans and pujas to changing names and houses. While having positive energies around does make a difference to one’s mindset, its superstitions like these which have no basis or truth to them regarding anyone’s luck. With the changing times, many of these superstitions have ceased to exist but some still remain. Hope this article gives you a clear picture behind these age old superstitions.