Indian Beliefs and Superstitions
Indian beliefs and superstitions are passed down from generation to generation. These faiths have sprung with an objective to protect from evil spirits, but some were based on scientific reasoning. Astrology is an integral part of Indian culture. Even today many people prefer to do good things such as entering a newly made home (Gruhapravesha) , fixing a marriage proposal, fixing a marriage date, entry of a bride to her new home, starting a new business etc, according to their astrological belief.
What is superstition?
According to dictionary, superstition is a belief in something not justified by reason or evidence. It means to believe in something blindly without verification.
Though the Indian society is fast progressing, there are many people who are still superstitious and have a strong faith in these local beliefs. Superstitions are deemed as pertinent in India because these, generally, hint at future occurrences and can be either good or bad.Though we try to believe these are baseless beliefs, somewhere deep inside our hearts, we are stuck to our roots and still believe in some of the superstitions, if not all.
Superstitions considered Good in India
These are some of the superstitions which are considered as good omen.
- While one is going out of the house and see a married lady with flowers on her head and kumkum on her forehead it is believed that the trip will be successful.
- If you see an elephant on your way while going somewhere, your purpose of going will be fruitful. It is believed that Lord Ganesh, the elephant God of Indian mythology, removes all the obstacles on the way.
- Seeing a peacock on a journey is also considered lucky.
- If you notice a crow cowing near your house you are likely to get visitors to your house.
- Eating sweet curd before exams brings good luck.
- If the girl's horoscope is matching well with the boy's horoscope, when they get married, they will have a successful married life.
- When a discussion is going on if you hear a lizard making a noise on the ceiling or on the wall, it is a good omen to let you know that it is true.
- There is also a strong belief in the power of dreams, as divine warnings. Dreaming of gods, demons, auspicious animals or any other auspicious thing is good.
- Continuous hiccups are considered a sign of someone close badly remembering you.
- Mirror, a pot full of water, flag, light, a pair of fish and turmeric are auspicious articles. On getting up from the bed in the early morning, if a person is lucky to see any of these auspicious articles it will bring him good luck . He is also fortunate if he sees first a lotus flower, gold, the ruler, light, the sun, fire, the sea, a temple tower, a hill with signs of rain a cow and a calf, his own right hand, a lunatic, a black monkey, an elephant or a percussion instrument called Mridanga. Seeing his wife's face is also considered a good omen.
- To avoid seeing anything unpleasant in the morning, many people look at the palms of their hands as soon as they awaken and recite this invocation: "In the tips of the fingers resides Goddess Lakshmi; in the middle, Goddess Saraswathi; in the palm of the hand resides Goddess Parvathi; looking at my hands, I begin my day."
- The colour, spots, stripes, chirping or twittering of the lizard and where it falls on a person's body are said to indicate future happenings.
Superstitions considered Bad in India
There are several superstitions considered as bad omen in Indian society. Many people even these days avoid these as much as possible, whether they believe in it or not, for they are not prepared to take the risk.
- If you are going somewhere and see a cat, especially black, is considered as a very bad omen.
- While a serious discussion is going on, a black cat comes that way. It is considered as a bad omen.
- While leaving home, sighting a widow or a barren woman is not lucky.
- Nails should not be cut in the night for fear of evil spirits.
- While leaving your house, hearing the shrill sound of a peacock is considered bad.
- Sweeping the house at night is not good.
- The sitting of an owl over the house-top is a sure sign of approaching ruin and destruction.
- When there is a birth or death in the family, the members are not supposed to go to a temple or light a lamp at home, for 15 days.
- If a female's right hand is scratching it is not good. It is an indication that she is going to get some bad news On the other hand, if it is left hand it is good. But, if a male's left hand is scratching it is not good. It shows that he is going to cry soon. He is lucky if his right hand is scratching.
- If the left eye of a woman twitches it is not good, and the right eye twitching for a man is also not good.
- If you see a family member leaving the house for some purpose, and happen to ask him or her "where are you going?" the individual won't like it because asking such a question is considered a bad omen.
- A number of activities are avoided after sunset such as - cutting of one's hair or nails, giving of dirty linen to the dhobi, mention of words to denote snake or the barber, lending or giving needles, salt ,butter, milk or white articles, lending a matchbox or fire.
- After a man's death, his widow should not wear colorful sarees or bindis on her forehead. (This practice is rapidly changing in almost all cities of India today.)
- If somebody is leaving home for the day's work and you sneeze thrice, it's a bad omen.
- Footwears keeping upside down brings fights in family.
- In some parts of the country, it is believed that Monday is not an auspicious day for shaving and cutting hair.
- Thursdays and Saturdays are not good for washing hair.
- Tuesday is believed to be not good to reach any body's home from a journey.
- Saturday is considered bad for purchasing metal or leather, as it brings bad luck in terms of financial prosperity.
- Wearing of white clothes by a married woman is considered inauspicious.
- If you hear a dog whining at night it will bring bad luck, especially when some one in your family or neighbourhood is sick.
- Many people do not make payments on Fridays, except giving small coins to beggars.
- Food is not cooked in a house where death has occurred.
My personal experience
My daughter had saved two newborn kittens from drowning and brought them home. One of them was black, and the other was white with a black dot on the face. Even though I was not much fond of kittens walking around inside the house, I took care of these cute kittens. Many of our friends wanted to have the white one, but my daughter was not willing to part with them. Finally, a day came when we had to go to our native place for two weeks, and I was able to convince her to give away these kittens. We were amazed there were no takers for the black one! I even took the help of a gardener for payment to get the black kitten a good home. While taking the cat, he promised me that he will be definitely able to find him a home in an estate, and our dear kitten will be safe there among other cats. To my amazement, later, I came to know that no one wanted to keep a black cat either in a house or an estate, and the kitten ran away from the gardener's house!!!
Why do Indians still follow these beliefs?
It is an interesting question. With the progress of science and popular awakening, many of the superstitions have already lost their hold on the minds of the people. But many of them are so deeply rooted that no amount of knowledge or science can weaken their hold or fully shake them off.
When I discussed this question with some of my friends, the response was amazing. They belong to both the present generation of youngsters and the older generation. Though most of them don't want to believe them, they are not prepared to take the risk of ignoring them. Those who had ventured to ignore them had already faced some serious problems, which made them stick to the age-old beliefs again.
What is your opinion? Do we still have to follow, or not?
Are the superstitions still prevalent in other countries? Please share your views.
Superstitions in other countries
Superstitions exist not only in India, they are all over the world. Every culture and every country has their own share of beliefs. Some of them are funny and some are logical. Some believe in these superstitions and follow them diligently, but some others do not believe them, and just ignore them. Watch the two videos to know about some of the superstitions exist in other culture.