SOME POPULAR INDIAN SUPERSTITIONS
SUPERSTITIONS—THEIR ROLE IN LIFE
THE ORIGIN AND INFLUENCE OF SUPERSTITIONS
“Superstition is the religion of feeble minds”.
Superstitions are founded on fear or ignorance. They have no basis in reason, logic or science. It is not possible to explain any superstition with the help of reason.
Superstition is a blind faith which has no explanation. “Superstition”, said Bacon, “is the reproach of the Deity.” Ignorance gives birth to superstition. Superstition means a belief which has no rational basis. Superstitions are not found in India only. They are found in almost every country. Each country has its own superstitions. There are some superstitions which are universal in nature. Backward people are more superstitions than advanced people. Even some educated people believe in superstitions.
Different types of superstitions are prevailing in different countries of the world. Some superstitions are attached with some animals and birds. If a crow caws on a house top, the residents expect the arrival of a guest. If a person meets a priest in the morning, he fears bad luck that day. On the other hand, if he meets a beggar, he feels that the day will bring good luck.
Some superstitions are linked with the movements of the parts of the body. If there is an itching on the right palm of a man or on the left palm of a woman, they would expect some gain in the day. Twitching of the left eyelid of man is considered ominous. People believe that the hooting of an owl is a message of a bad happening.
Almost all the countries of the world believe in ghosts and witches. Even the most enlightened countries like America, Russia, England and France are not free from such beliefs. In India, belief in ghosts is very common. They take the affected person to a ghost expert. Sometimes, the person alleged to be under the influence of an evil spirit is tortured to death. Some people sacrifice their children to satisfy some goddess. Some cut off their tongues to please another goddess. Some others roll down in mud and mire in the course of their journey to the holy shrine of a goddess.
Shakespeare’s play are full of lines that reveal that Englishmen are generally superstitious.
Calpurnia says to Caesar:
“When beggar die there are no comets seen:
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.”
These lines reveal Calpurnia’s superstition that the appearance of a comet in the sky foredooms the death of some great man. Hamlet too sees the ghost of hid dead father several times. It is the ghost that spurs him on to action.
Some days are thought to be good for starting a new thing. Whereas Wednesdays and Fridays are believed to be good. Tuesday and Saturdays are believed to be inauspicious days for the opening of a new shop or starting a new business. The number thirteen is considered unlucky in several countries. Chandigarh, the city beautiful, does not have sector thirteen. The number ‘thirteen’ has been knowingly missed out. Similarly, if a cat crosses someone’s path, his mission is supposed to be foredoomed to fail. Nobody in India start his journey if somebody present on the scene sneezes. Some people leave their homes only after eating something saltish.
Some people believe that superstitions play a positive role in life. They help people to somehow “explain” their failures and feel satisfied. They provide a sort of psychological outlet or explanation to a number of mishaps in life. But they certainly do more harm than good. They weaken the mind and create unnecessary fears.
Superstitions can be destroyed only by the torch of education. They are the products of darkness. They cannot stand light. As knowledge increases, superstition decreases. An educated man wants to know the how and why of things. He does not accept superstitions are already dying out. But a lot still remains to be done before superstitions are completely done away with.
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I believe that superstitions are silly and ridiculous beliefs. Everything happening has a reason and a scientific explanation. As much as they are considered foolish, superstitions do affect the society a lot. For example, widows are considered to bring bad luck. At one point in India, widows couldn't get shelter and received harsh treatment. They were not allowed to attend auspicious functions. Also, black cats are hunted down because of the incredibly old superstition: Black cats bring bad luck. They have as much right to live freely without being cringed at do. I think that we all should attempt to steer our minds away from society-affecting superstitions and live as though they had never been created.
Class VII, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Thrissur, Kerala
The number of superstitions and blind beliefs in India is very large as the Indian society is made of people belonging to various religious, cultural, ethnic, linguistic and racial groups. There are many common superstitions in the people belonging to various groups. The murder of Narendra Dabholkar indicates that this situation should be changed
Class XI, Thiruvangur. H.S.S, Calicut
Certain superstitious beliefs have been in the Indian society for such a long time that they have been taken for granted and are no more considered as evil. People leaving everything to God and remaining idle is a common culture in the Indian society. Number of houses in our society left uninhabited because of the 'Vasthu' problem, is a clear indication. Superstitious beliefs is the biggest stumbling block in our path to a healthy society. There has been a tendency to blame the government and depend it for the removal of social evils. I believe the only hope lies in the youth. In this regard the teaching community have to shoulder more responsibility, to 'modernise India' so that the desirable change may occur through education.
Teacher, Carmel Convent High School, Mancherial
About 80 per cent of our population lives in villages and half of them are illiterate. A large section of our society believes in superstition and therefore fall prey to conmen and godmen. Superstitions make a mockery of human and social development. Superstitions should not be confused with tradition and culture. Conducting programmes on how miracles are not possible will go a long way in dispelling the belief. Movies and media should take up the challenge of fighting against this evil.
Associate Professor of Physics, Hyderabad
Who would like to survive in a dark room and being exploited year after year? Superstition is like an eclipse which casts its shadow forever and gulps the whole society.
The outer cover of superstition is so hard that it won't allow the beam of knowledge to penetrate through the conscious mind. Even Indian Constituion obliges citizens to “develop a scientific temper , humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”.
We should salute the hero Late Shri. Narendra Dabholkar for his selfless contribution to improve society.
Librarian, Sri Prakash Vidyaniketan, Vizag
Superstitions, irrationality and blind belief have had an upper hand in our society throughout the ages. An example is the phenomenon of "witch hunting", which has claimed many innocent lives. Superstitions lead to the exploitation of common people by clever "Sadhus and Tantrics". They also lead to caste bias and discrimination. Youth practising superstitions will hinder social progress. Insecurity makes a person vulnerable to unjust beliefs. Its prevention is literacy and knowledge is its cure. M Padmanaban
Manager Inventory, Aries Agro Ltd., Hyderabad
The murder of rationalist and anti-black magic campaigner Narendra Dabholkar is a shameful and cowardly act. Our Constitution has stressed on the importance of developing scientific temperament. It is shameful that we practice ugly superstitious beliefs and black magic in our life in spite of the increase in literacy as well as advanced research in every field of medical, technological, astronomy and space. There are evidence based findings before us to oppose and eradicate all such superstitions but it is frightening to note the increasing trend in most of the so called “highly educated” continuing faith in such beliefs.
Balila (D.K), Parent