“And she stood first!” mom exclaimed. “Wow, she must be really lucky!” aunt replied immediately. ‘LUCKY’? Do people perform well in their exams just by being lucky? A human becomes Carlos Slim or Dhirubhai Ambani just out of luck? Could be, you never know.
Not to blame any particular person because these superstitions have become an inseparable part of the human psyche. Even if we conclude that we don’t believe in any superstitions, we wouldn’t mind saying ‘touch wood’ if something good happens and we want it to continue. We’re at the cusp of experiencing The Dawn of the Age of the Artificial Intelligence, still I doubt one not having a lucky shirt or a lucky color or a lucky number.
Being an Indian, one major superstition that I see around me would be bribing God. Yes, people outside might be busy greasing another’s palm, but we, bribe the supreme creator. “Get me good grades in the examination and I’ll come to offer you sweets” or say “Please get me selected in my job interview and I’ll offer you a particular sum of money”. Like God is impressed only by some exchange offer.
Another most common superstition, which isn’t just observed in India, but many places around the world, would be a black cat crossing your path. People almost change their entire path if crossed by a black cat in the fear that the poor little animal going its own way, would cause some bad luck or injury to them.
During the ancient times when plague was a widespread among the country, the sagacious ones observed that it is better to avoid the areas where the cats are. But better than explaining people what and how and to make their work easier, they stated it is a bad omen to go ahead if a cat just crossed your road, and hence the superstition.
We’re all a little cracked and a little superstitious, and it’s ok because it’s part of our culture and where we’re from. We all might be aware about these myths in our countries, but let’s know the weirdest superstitions among the world!
- Don’t wash your hair for the first few days of the New Year, lest your luck gets washed away.
- Parents tell their children that unless they eat all the rice in their bowl, their future partner will have a bumpy face. Now I know why all mothers say, “Finish all the food in your plate”. Thanks mom!
- They avoid the number 4 if possible – on street numbers, apartment addresses and phone numbers, because the word “four” in Chinese sounds a lot like the word for “death”. It’s the opposite case for “eight” which sounds like “wealthy”.
- Couples with the same surname cannot marry; even if they are not related, they still belong to the same ancestry.
- The number of steps in a staircase should be even-numbered.
- At funerals mirrors must be hidden; a person who sees the reflection of the coffin will have a death in his/her family.
- Never point at the moon or your ears might get chopped off. Hands in the pocket!
Second, undoubtedly, Japan:
- If a beggar ever comes to your doorstep, you’re supposed throw salt to your entry way where the beggar has been. Failing to do so will bring bad luck and financial misfortune to your household.
- If you play with fire, you will wet your bed. Oops!
- If you rest just after eating, you will become a cow/pig/elephant. Oops again!
- It is believed that placing a small cup or dish of salt in the corner of your house, will bring you good luck.
- You should never sleep with your head in North position or you will have a short life.
- If a Hearst passes you by, or you walk by a graveyard, you must tuck your thumbs in to protect your parents. This is because the Japanese word for thumb literally translates as “parent-finger” and so by hiding it you are protecting your parents from death.
- Britain’s are different. No, I’m not talking about the British political system here. People in UK believe that you would be lucky if you meet a black cat.
- Unlucky is to break a mirror or see a crow!
- In Ancient Britain, women carried acorns in their pockets to stay looking young. Who needs anti-ageing creams now?
- At a survey, touching wood and crossing fingers topped the charts of superstitions there.
Make way for Russia:
- No kissing or greeting someone in a doorway, take out the trash after sunset, or eat food from a knife.
- In Russia, there is a belief that if a bird defecates on you, your car or your property it’s a sign good luck and may bring you riches. Heard whatever happens, happens for the good?
- There is a belief that if you are unmarried, you should avoid sitting at the corner of the table, or you’d stay single for a longer time!
- Look at yourself in a mirror if you have had to go back home to avoid bad luck.
Indians are no behind here:
- If a lizard falls on body, people take a bath. It could cause death.
- If someone steals your shoes, they take away your curse. Thanks to the person who made me curse-free last week!
- Dare you ask someone, “Where are you going?” when they’re leaving for some important work. It is considered as a bad omen. If you do, get ready for the most resentful reaction!
- There are several methods of warding off an “evil eye“. Lemon-and-chilli totems are a common method.Mothers put kohl on their babies’ face, to ward off evil eye, by making it imperfect. Elder ones have Taveez (amulet) or a Suraksha kavaj (evil eye protector) as their saviors!
- People don’t have a shave, haircut or cut their nails on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday believing that it is bad luck.
- The terror of number 13 might be the biggest fear in their life.This superstition is so perpetual that the city of Chandigarh doesn’t even have a Sector 13.
Few people in Turkey think twice before whipping out the chewing gum. There is a belief that if you are chewing gum at night it is actually rotting dead flesh.
In Thailand they say that whoever eats the last bit of food on a place will have a beautiful boyfriend or girlfriend.
In Romania, you can barely take a step without someone saying you’re about to get rich or swearing you’ll be dead by next Christmas. A traditional superstition is that if you beat animals, you’ll be cursed with hairy babies.
And finally, in Arab cultures, if your right hand itches, you will soon get to see someone that you haven’t seen in a long time. Good news!
Burdensome to remember all, ain’t it? Don’t worry, wherever you are, one of the locals would be there to remind you!
“Superstition is the religion of feeble minds” – Edmund Bruke.
Well, Knowledge is the power. It has the potential to eradicate any superstition. Education plays an antagonistic role in relation to superstition and the paranormal; still, the results are not precise. Don Saucier, associate professor of psychology, said ‘superstitions are behaviors that people perform in an attempt to affect or control their future. Superstitious behaviors are a way people think they can control their fate by performing certain tasks in a certain way to either help alleviate anxiety or to simply better their chances in a certain situation’. As knowledge propagates, nevertheless, superstition will dwindle till it perishes altogether.
Have faith, but not blind faith.