#Personal Stories

Why do we believe in these ‘harmless’ superstitions?

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Call it a belief, a practise , magic, or ‘fear of the unknown’, knowingly or unknowingly, superstitions follow us everywhere. Remember how unapologetically we cross our fingers and toes (or possibly everything else we can) while wishing for an extra bounce of luck? Or quickly touching the nearby wood to avoid a hypothetical situation we think have chances of actually happening. “Do not fold your legs while eating food, don’t trim your nails in the night, Number 13, “make a wish” when an eyelash falls off, never break a mirror with your reflection, keep ‘nimbu-mirchi’ (lemon and chillies) for protection from the evil eye,” and the list continues.

While there is no proper definition for what superstitions really are, and why do we believe them, psychologists, who have investigated the subject claim a connection between the co-occurring, non-related events that give rise to the assumptions that follow superstitions. SheThePeople spoke to a few people to learn about their personal experiences on these so-called ‘superstitions’ and why they yet follow them.

Do not touch pickle when on your periods

17-year-old Drishti told SheThePeople, “I had just begun my first periods, and mom asked me to get the pickle on the lunch table. I don’t know what happened, but within a second she ran towards me and picked the jar herself. That was weird. This did not stop here, it continued and followed many times and for several other reasons. “Don’t enter the temple, don’t wash your hair on the third day, wear light coloured clothes,” It was too much to handle. So one fine day, I did everything I was told not to do on my periods. And you know what? Nothing happened.” She further added, “I don’t understand the logic behind these rules. Someone just made them and the masses follow it blindly. To all the girls who feel bad about themselves because of the restrictions they are put into when they are on their periods, I just want to say- Rule todd ke toh Dekho, accha lagta hai!”

Wash your sanitary pads before disposing them

“My mother shouted at me for disposing my sanitary pads without washing them. Apparently, she thinks girls should wash their sanitary pads before disposing them as if you throw them away without washing, animals can come in contact with it and if they do, you will have pregnancy problems in future,” said a student of Omerga district in Osmanabad.  She further said, “what logic does this have? I mean, is there a scientific study that proves this ill-logical theory? People wouldn’t have moved ahead of cotton clothes if we really had to wash our pads.”

Colour of Mehendi (Henna)

“The darker the colour of your Mehendi, the deeper your bond with your husband. Fact-Just a superstition! For me, I loved designing my hands with Mehendi every now and then. And every time, my family and friends would annoyingly guess on how loving my future husband would be. I mean, if this really made any sense, people wouldn’t even have to know each other, right? The world would simply draw people’s compatibility just on the basis of the color that the Mehendi shows.

Touchwood

Remember getting nostalgic about the old times or talking about something great present at the moment, and you’re afraid it doesn’t catch an ‘evil-eye’, so you quickly run towards the nearest tree or furniture and do the ‘Touchwood’ thing? Not sure how many times that has worked, but wondering how a piece of wood will help me keep my life balanced!

If a pigeon shit on you, you just became lucky

Imagine a pigeon shit on you the moment you leave home? I mean, you’re literally dressed up in your best, and a pigeon shits on you. I told my mom about this once, and she explained how I am blessed this morning as the pigeon chose me to shit on. MOM, A PIGEON LITERALLY SHIT ON ME! HOW AM I BLESSED??

Trimming nails in night

No, never trim your nails post evening. I can’t be the only one to have heard this. I have had huge fights with my mom because she told me a hundred times to cut nails in the morning time only, and I always ended up trimming my nails late in the evening. But what does time have to do with trimming nails? The questions arising on these superstitions seem to be endless.

“Nimbu-Mirchi” for protection from evil eye

No, but seriously, are these ‘totkas’ ending? In India, you will see a pair of Nimbu-Mirchi (lemon & chillies) hung outside every second car or on the doors of a house. Apparently, this ancient Hindu practice is a sort of charm to ward off evils. 

A black cat crossing your path

Indians believe that a black cat crossing your way is unlucky. But why? Just because the cat is black in colour? In India, we associate the colour black with Lord Shani, who is one of the most popular deities in the traditional religion of Hinduism and is associated as a harbinger of bad luck and retribution. 21-year-old Kartikay Singh says, “I was always advised to let someone else cross the path before me if I saw a black cat my way. In fact, for a long time, me and my friends waited for a few minutes before crossing that road as we thought the time given will reduce the bad luck. Growing up, I realised this was a stupid belief. I learned a better way to tackle this- whenever you see a black cat crossing your path, cuddle it!”

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