Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When The Milk Boiled Over…

Source: philopmartin.info

What happens when a black cat crosses your path? Do you hesitate for that fraction of a second or continue as if nothing had happened? Whichever reaction it might be, I am sure the age old superstition does make its presence felt. Because like it or not, this poor four legged creature and many such beliefs have been entrenched in our subconscious minds for years together. 

It was a Friday when my maid had me stop in my tracks and stare at her with my jaws wide open. Snatching the worn out broom and mop out of my hand as I was about to throw them out, she exclaimed “Medam, aaj Shukravaar hai, aaj nahi fekte!” With glaring eyes she gave me a stare that haunted me even after she left. 

Superstitions have been an integral part of Indian culture since generations. While the logic is questioned all the time, many are said to have taken birth from a sound and scientific reasoning. Cutting nails at night is a strict no in most households, the logic behind this system stems from the lack of lighting back in the old days. Using that nail cutter in relative darkness increased your chances of cutting more than just the nail so night time could not be called auspicious for the activity now could it? Despite the abundance of lights in our houses today, this belief has continued like so many others.

A rare sighting, an eclipse attracts all for a peek whenever they make an appearance. But pregnant women in India are always disappointed. The saying goes that rays emitted during an eclipse are harmful for the fetus. Without any backing of scientific evidence, one would incline towards calling this one a myth; however I wonder how many would actually take the risk of challenging it, hmmm!

While leaving home, the person should never be asked where they are going or their work doesn't get done. Maybe it would have gotten done but now that we believe it can’t, we really cannot expect it to work can we? The same goes for another common belief, the cawing of crows. For the last thirty odd years of my existence I have craned my neck out of the window each time a crow cawed, to look out for those unexpected visitors. Each and every time, the doorbell has remained silent and the crows have earned a glare from me. 

If these aren't enough, there are more to keep us busy. Seeing an elephant is considered auspicious as it is meant to signify Lord Ganesh, if this were to be true, many of us Bangloreans would shift closer to Bannerghatta National Park without a second thought. About us, I don’t know, but real estate tycoons will surely benefit from the elephant sighting. 

Did you know? With your childhood habit of licking off your plate and the bottom of utensils you would be turning into a weatherman (woman) from the future? Doing that would mean the rain gods would bless you with their showers the day you tie the knot. Because a wet knot is difficult to “untie”, no rocket science here. However unbelievable this might seem, a dear childhood friend of mine had to endure a rather wet wedding, no prizes to guess what he did as a child! 

I don’t know about the rest of you but this one has a firm believer in me. Red underwear is meant to bring good luck. Now why would anybody not believe that? Superman wears red underwear period. I rest my case. Well err… we can ignore how he wears it though.

Even Hiccups are not ignored. How often do you hiccup? Not much? Sad, I say! Not too many people think of you. Imagine if you were Arvind Kejriwal right now, you would be hiccuping all day! 

While most superstitions deal with luck, prosperity and health, food is not one to be left behind. Having curd with sugar before an examination is meant to bring luck while a sack full of rice gets spoilt if touched by a woman during her periods. Much powers she has I say, such magic could put Harry Potter to shame.

Speaking of women and menstruation, there could be no other event ridden with superstitions as much as this. Regarded as “impure”, women who are menstruating are not allowed to enter temples and kitchens during “those days”. Pickles turn rotten by her touch, clothes she wears are polluted and the list goes on. Seems like a witch doesn't she? Definitely doesn't sound like the life giving woman that she actually is.

In all of these how can I forget Vaastu. While the directions in which each door of your house should point always depend on Vaastu; imagine eagerly approaching your future-to-be landlord to sign the rental agreement. What could that have to do with Vaastu you think? Everything.  Right from the direction in which we, the brightly eyed tenants were to seat while signing the agreement to which day we should move our luggage based on our birth star…. It was everything about Vaastu. Sigh.

They amuse; well at least most of them. Sometimes they sound downright weird. You wish you could just shake them off and move along… but some of them never let you go. Like the one about “Raahu Kaal”. That time of the day that is considered inauspicious to start anything new or do anything important. Oh, if there is one that I cannot stand it is this. Why you ask? Because I would be its target every time I made an official trip out of town. I would come home to an extremely messy and chaotic house only to be told by the “supposedly” better half that “Raahu Kaal” had been on all throughout the time I wasn't there.  Some people do know how to put superstitions to good use… don’t they?


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43 comments:

  1. Ah well, this post resonated so well with me. Funnily enough most of these superstitions in my opinion have been cooked up by people in the days of yore to ensure that commoners followed a set of scientific steps to ensure that they didn't do too much harm to themselves and those around them. Classic case which you have mentioned is the cutting of nails after sunset. And over the years, they have acquired demonaic proportions and are now just bandied around as culture and religion by our elders.

    As for me, I do what I want when I want how I want as long as I am comfortable doing it and without causing anybody else any harm.

    Lovely post.

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    1. Completely agree Jairam! Do what you find logical and are comfortable doing :)

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  2. Superb article, Seeta!! Enjoyed it thoroughly!

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  3. Hmm - See, superstitions are of great use - to your family :)

    Most superstitions seem to have developed based on reasons that are now lost - and maybe have lost their relevance.

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    1. Hahaha yeah the family loves them :)

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  4. Nice compilation of superstitions here--some were new to me....but i hate to be circumscribed by them.

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  5. Awesome post Seets!!!!

    The rain on your wedding part is true though, saying from experience and the damn knot gets real tough!

    However, there are some that we have started taking advantage of, for example, vehicles / homes get cheaper during the shradh period, I have seen many people waiting for this time to book their vehicle / home and well, nothing untoward has happened yet..touch wood!! :)

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    1. Hehehe yeah well a good friend experienced it :) I didn't know about the cheaper homes and cars things, thats a new one!

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  6. Interesting read!! I believe in superstitions as per my convenience! :D
    I believe in magpies.... that one for sorrow, two for joy thing. :D
    And yes, wont let anybody cut nails at night but I do wash hair and clothes on Thursdays which is a strict No-No according to my mom! :P

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  7. hahahah well like you said, I use superstitions to my own use!!!!!There is a superstition that is u r going out somewhr and somehow you are forced to re enter your home because u forgot to pick up something, you got to sit for a while and then go. This costed me the first 10 minutes of my internal exams :(

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    1. Really? Didn't know about that! I think my mum knew it would take quite a bit to make me stop and take a pause if I had to rush home and pick something up :P

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  8. Haha your better half is also perhaps your witty half :D Well I believe in superstitions only created by my own sense of understanding. Like my own set of hit and trials. Some of them are damn funny. Funnier than the holier than thou you have mentioned in here. Like one (only one I will tell :D ) I always brush my teeth after taking a bath and I don't drink or eat anything until I take a bath. So I get up straight away take a bath and then get ready and brush my teeth :D :D Yes yes I know I am mad, no one needs to tell me that :D

    Richa

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    1. Oh yes he is Richa! Wait till you meet him :)
      Hehehe, a Dentist once told me that we shouldn't brush till we are done with b'fast ;-)

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  9. I don't believe in any of the superstitions that you've mentioned. I actually found them pretty amusing. And to spite them in my own way, I actually made pickles last year when I was menstruating. Needless to say, they are still fine :). Of course, your husband has found an innovative way to use them to his advantage!

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    1. hawww! how could you do that??? :D
      My husband loves superstitions, his main goal as far as they are concerned is to twist and turn them to use as excuses whenever he messes the house or lazes around :)

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  10. Right, there was some logic behind few but most are baseless. We should change with time but somehow we take pride in following such superstitions. Great post, Seeta :)

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    1. Thanks Saru! Long time lady, gonna hop over to your blog today :)

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  11. Superb, Seeta. Couldn't stop chuckling. :)

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    1. Thanks :) Coming from the humour king, thats a lot :)

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  12. Ha haa... :D couldn't stop laughter after reading about the 'Red Underwear' :D This is the best way to make people think! Well written!

    Regards,
    Sindhu
    Tantu
    The Arts & Me

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    1. :) I read a much better post the day I put this up.. about flowers... and those lines, I still wish my teacher had taught me in that style... should tell you how much it meant to me :)

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  14. Superstitions galore .dont they? And your writing had me chuckling :D

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  15. Hehehe !!!!
    Nice Read
    One more i feel important here is ‘nazar utarna’ which literally translates into ‘getting rid of the effects of the evil eye.’ In India, it is believed that the ‘evil eye’ can cause damage to the person towards whom it turns.The effects of the evil eye may range from general bad luck to ill health and other problems.
    Anyways Some blind beliefs and superstitions are actually not blind beliefs and superstitions, but some wisdom, and also experiences of people for a long time.

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    1. very true.. and i know the nazar utarna one.. mind you I have seen those chillies not emit a smell some times... has made me wonder too... hmmm:)

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  16. I don't believe in superstitions but I do wait for sometime when a cat crosses my path. I'm extremely paranoid about accidents on road, but otherwise I generally pooh-pooh all kinds of superstitions unless they work in my favor :) I think it's all in our mind. We have been made to believe in these things right from our childhood that even now, when we can think for ourselves we blindly follow them without thinking of the logic behind it :)

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    1. Hehehee, rightly put, its all in our mind :)

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  17. is n't praying and worshipping gods too superstitious.why most of educated visit temples and pray gods when they don't agree with most of superstitions from past.visiting temples and praying gods too is a superstition like kaali billi crossing your path.if you have an answer,you can reply. its really funny :-)

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    1. A god perspective, its the faith and belief in God that disciplines our life... that's how I look at it. but then that would bring forth the argument that even with superstitions its about belief... well well, we could have another post going there! ;-)

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    2. faith and belief in god disciplines our life?hmm that's strange.

      why do ya visit museum?to have a glance at our past/history/things that went extinct.similar way ,our ancestors from civilization had question what if human mind goes corrupt?so they have decided to give a physical form to human state of mind.they have built a physical structure that resembles or makes you feel the FIRST human state of mind which was flawless for future generations.people call it temple coz they no longer have that state of mind from civilzation or they din't inherit over generations.so its simple,you want to visit the first state of human mind and people believed that some unknown power called god was responsible for such flawless mind.

      at the end of the day,as educated i would inherit such state of mind instead of visiting temples like museum.sad thing is that people never tell the actual truth to kids while parenting,they blindly call it as faith which is really blind.same is with all superstitions,people never reason or explain why we are following certain pattern of life which we call superstition.we should call ourselves educated only when we have clarity over all these practices.

      when i was kid ,my parents took me to ram-hanuman temple and asked me to pray hanuman idol by joining fingers and hands what we call namaskar.i never felt god in that idol or temple so i started thinking about all this stuff and in the end i got all answers which i have put in above lines.so i never visit a temple or pray gods like my parents do.

      life and society might have been better if people had such explanations from childhood.we don't need parties like AAP or we need not fight against corruption.


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  18. Interesting ! came to ur blog after so long and enjoyed this one ! all the beliefs u mentiond are followed by my my grand ma and may be her ancestors and even my mom follows few. One more thing is girls should not let their hair looose jst after head bath and roam out specially in noon . They attract demons it seems. :D I dont believe in any but they make an interesting list to discuss ! Honestly some times just some times By coincidence what ever they keep saying comes true :)

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    1. Hahaha! the letting hair loose one is hilarious... ! and the fact that you have seen things come true.. scary! :)

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  19. I don't believe in superstitions. Touch wood :-)

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    1. Same here :) Thanks for stopping by Ruch.

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  20. Time for a bit of honesty Seeta; I'm here after a brief gap, and this post does well to remind me of what I have been missing :) Brilliant post ad yes, in India we do keep superstitions close to our hearts. Whether there is any truth in this, only the person who has experienced it can tell. But as your "cawing' crows have proved, sometimes its just bull :) Loved the post

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Sid :) and those cawing crows just cawed this morning, this time I stayed away from the windows and balconies ;-)

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  21. I could relate to all of them....
    It also reminded me of an experience i went through many years back...I had a dream that i was bitten by a bod. Now, my governess told my mom that the dog's poison will affect me and the best way to tackle with the menace is to make me drink a glass full of salty water...and i was made to drink that water which contained as much as 200 gm of salt....ah thooo...that ws disgusting

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    1. ROFL! Dude that was funny :P you should write a post on that one :)

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