I had read a very interesting article here on Pagalguy.com, titled – “8 witless Indian beliefs that need a break” and I could not stop myself from thinking how and why such practices started in the first place? There has to be some logic behind it !!
Before getting into that aspect, I called a group of my friends at my place to watch the T20 WC final. After India’s loss, we were discussing the reasons as to what lead to this result and then one of my friends said, “aaj toh India ka luck he kharab tha” (Today luck was not favoring India). Then I asked them if they believed in superstition/luck/voodoo/ghost/evil spirit, etc? All of them answered in negative, that they do not believe in such things. According to them, everything that happens is a result of the events that had happened earlier. Then I asked them – do they believe in God? All of them said Yes, God is there to guide us and bless us. I was confused. I thought that in school, in the introductory lessons of physics we were taught that everything in the world is made up of matter and all matter is composed of atoms. An atom consists of a central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons (negatively charged), while the nucleus has an equal mix of neurons (neutral charged) and protons (positively charged). All the matter has neutral electrical charge as they have equal number of protons and electrons and so it creates a balance. So similarly, in the world of psychology how can someone just believe in the positive aspect and ignore the negative aspect. There will be no balance. If a person believes in God, then he/she should also believe in evil spirits. And if a person does not believe in God, then he /she should not believe in evil spirits too. By this thought process only there can a balance of energy in the minds of everyone.
Coming back to the Indian superstition practices as to why such believes started? I will take a couple of practices and give the reasons behind them.
1) Lemon and Chilies – A Lemon and 7 chilies are hung on the main door of shops, offices and houses. The idea behind this is that the goddess “Alakshmi”, goddess of poverty, likes sour and spicy things and when she comes to someone door step, she can assuage herself by tasting the lemon and chilies hanging on the door, thus preventing her from entering the house or the shop.
2) Story of the mysterious Peepal tree – Peepal trees are considered to be unlucky. The story behind this is that Peepal tree is considered to be the haven of “Munja” the ghost and if someone stands under the tree at night then the ghost may enter the person’s body.
3) Problem of Saturday – Those who believe in horoscope, will have to believe that Saturday is a very unlucky day to start any important event. Saturday is hindi is called Shani-var, the day of God Shani. Shani refers to Planet Saturn and according to Hindu mythology if the influence of Saturn is high in someone’s life then he/she will struggle a lot in life.
4) Cutting nails at night is unlucky – This theory comes from the fact that during early days there was neither proper lights at night nor safe nail cutters. People used sharp blades to cut their nails. To prevent children from cutting nails at night and hurting themselves, this belief started taking rounds that it is an unlucky practice.
5) Burn paper in front of the shop and perform puja – Shopkeepers after closing the shop often burn a piece of paper and perform a small puja to invite spirits and so that they can guard the shops against thieves. The logic behind this is that earlier there was no electricity or electrical torches, so this paper was burnt to check whether the locks are properly placed. Shopkeepers still continue this tradition and think that burning a piece of paper will prevent thieves from entering their shops.
As we can see that whatever practices we follow, it has some reasons attached to it. We just need to find out and understand as to why we follow a certain ritual and we will notice that most of it is based on scientific principals or mythological stories. For me these are the rituals/superstitions/traditions that differentiate one culture from another. There is nothing wrong in following these practices until it does not harm anyone and is within the limit of acceptance of everybody.