India is a country of diverse culture and tradition but with that age-old practices are widely accepted throughout the country. No matter how literate and modern the people are! People follow these practices without any question. Every day we observe a lot of superstitions around us. Some believe these superstitions may bring bad or good luck while some want to find the reason behind such practices. Believe it or not everything has a reason, so as the superstitions. Many age-old practices have some logical explanations behind their basis.
It is important to raise question on those superstitions as these practices cause only slow degradation of our society. It is also important to find the answer, the logic behind the age-old practices. Let’s look at the scientific reasons behind those rituals.
Hanging lemon and green chillies in shops
Superstition: According to the ritual, the lemon and seven green chillies are hanging in shops and business places in order to prevent Alakshmi (god of misfortune) to enter the shop. The god likes sour, pungent and hot things, so when she comes she will only come up at the door and eat her favourite food. She will satisfy her hunger and leave without entering the shop.
Logic: Both lemon and chilli are rich in different vitamins. Our ancestors tried to spread their usage through symbols during ceremonies. Some believe the cotton thread which is used to pierce the lemon and chillies absorbs the acid from it while it is fresh. The smell keeps the insects and pests away from the shops. This simple pesticide came into practice from ages and has turned into a superstition.
Hair cut on Tuesday
Superstition: It is considered as a bad thing if you cut your hair on Tuesday. But no one knows the reason why it is considered as a bad thing!
Logic: In early time, a large portion of the Indians are farmers. After a week of hard work, Monday was their resting day. So many of them cleaned their home on that day and cut their hair. The barber had no work on Tuesday and closed his shop. Since then, the practice has been continued but the actual reason behind it is completely forgotten.
Cats crossing the path
Superstition: When a cat is crossing the path, at the moment people stop and wait until someone crossing the path. It is believed if someone crosses the path at the moment the cat crossed it then the day is going to be awful.
Logic: In ancient time, people travelled at night through forests in a bullock cart and they used kerosene lantern. The carriage animals get past big cats like hyenas, leopards and foxes. These animals have glowing eyes and scare the cart animals. So the travelling party halted nearby to help the animals refresh themselves before they pulled the carts for the long journey without any stress. Travellers shared their experiences and told others not to continue travel while the big cats crossing the roads. In time, people forget forest cats and took the domestic cats instead.
Cutting nails and shaving after sunset
Superstition: It is believed if people cut nails or shave after sunset then the night spirits will be awakened and come in the search of flesh. So people are warned to get attacked by these evil spirits in the darkness of night.
Logic: In past, there was no electricity so cutting nails or shaving after sunset would result in cuts due to darkness. This was the reason our ancestors advised not to cut nails or shave after sunset.
Breaking mirror brings 7 years bad luck
Superstition: If someone looking into the breaking mirror then they would suffer from bad luck for the period of seven years. At the end of the said term, the person’s life would be renewed, the body would be physically revitalised and the curse would be ended. The time period came from the ancient Roman belief that it would take seven years to get a new life.
Logic: In earlier days, mirrors were not cheap and were low quality and easily defected. So to avoid negligence it was told that breaking mirror would bring bad luck. It was just a simple scare strategy.
Opening an umbrella inside the house
Superstition: It is considered as “bad luck”. Opening umbrella inside the house would cause the injuries and broken objects.
Logic: Back then, umbrellas were made with hard metal spokes and spring triggers which could be dangerous to open. It could be a danger for people and fragile objects. So people were warned not to open an umbrella to protect the health and safety of people and property indoors.
Do not sweep house after sunset
Superstition: If you sweep your house after sunset, Lakshmi will leave the house and it brings poverty.
Logic: Earlier when there was no electricity, earthen lamps were not enough to spot any small costly thing or jewellery. So, there were chances of sweeping them away with the dust. So our ancestors preferred to clean the house during day light.
Menstruating women are impure
Superstition: A menstruating woman is not allowed in the kitchen, temple, mosques or any other religious spots. She is also restricted to do regular household work like cooking.
Logic: Painkillers for period cramps were not available before the 20th century. Before that, those painful days of menstruation which entail cramps for women were treated with Indian medicines. In those days probably the women did not work because of their discomfort and they were advised not to do any strenuous activities. Some claim there is no logic behind this. It is just another superstition to lower the position of women in the society.
Do not leave a dead person’s eye open
Superstition: If a dead person’s eyes are open then the other soul around the dead body will be taken away with him through his eyes.
Logic: This is done to make the dead person look as if the deceased is sleeping peacefully. The reason is so simple but a ghost story is woven around it.
Do not step out during an eclipse
Superstition: Still some believe the reason of an eclipse is the sun is swallowed up by the demon, Rahu. So, especially pregnant women are advised to stay at home, otherwise, their babies are born with deformities.
Logic: Our ancestors may know that observing the sun during an eclipse can cause retinal burns or eclipse blindness. The UV rays are also very harmful. Hence, our ancestors advised not to step out during an eclipse.
Eat curd and sugar before heading out for an important work
Superstition: It is considered as good luck to eat curd and sugar before going out for an important work.
Logic: Curd has a cooling effect on the stomach. Eating curd is actually good in the tropical climate of India. Adding sugar in generous quantities in curd provides instant glucose. So this combination doesn’t provide any good luck, it is, in fact good for health and keeps one cool before heading out for an important work.
Twitching of the eye is inauspicious
Superstition: Twitching of the left eye is considered as good or bad omen depending upon the culture.
Logic: There are several medical reasons behind this constant or intermittent muscle twitching.
Bats entering the house bring death
Superstition: Bats considered as a bad omen in many countries and different myths are associated with them. If a bat enters the house or flies around the house then death is waiting for someone in the family.
Logic: The real reason is bats are carried viruses like Ebola, Rabies, Marburg, Hendra and Nipah that can cause serious illness in humans. Back then, there were no medicines for these diseases. That is why it was said bats entering the house bring death.
Lizard falling on human is bad luck
Superstition: If a lizard falls on a person’s body it is said to indicate future happenings.
Logic: Lizards release poisonous chemicals from their body to protect them from their enemies. If lizards fall on human or in food then it is bound to make contaminated.
Do not sleep with your head facing the North
Superstition: It is said that sleeping with one’s head in the north is inviting death.
Logic: There is a scientific relation between the Earth’s magnetic field and the human body’s field. So the ancestors made it a rule not to sleep with the head facing north because of the harmful effects related to blood pressure and other diseases that asymmetry with the Earth’s magnetic field would create.
These superstitions do not carry out any good in our society or our lives. These create only fear. Our ancestors had scientific reasons to make these practices. This is our faults to do not understand the actual reasons behind the age-old practices and distort the actual reasons. It would be good if we stop fearing and start questioning ourselves about these practices. There is no pride to follow the superstitions blindly.