India is a land of cultures and traditions. It is one of the oldest civilizations which has an amalgamation of varied beliefs, religions, values, rituals, and lifestyles that are several millennia old. Even though Indians have accepted the modern means of living, the traditions and values are deeply rooted and ingrained in them.
Superstitions and illogical beliefs are considered as widespread social issues in India. Attempts have been made to throw light on the fact that rituals that are being practiced day in and day out were all well thought scientific procedures by our ancestors. However, with the passage of time and development of a hierarchical society, this knowledge has become more esoteric and only the rituals are being propagated and not the reasoning behind them.
Here we highlight the logical reasoning behind each of the belief or ritual that we follow-
- Not to step out during an eclipse-
This is to prevent losing eyesight. Observing the Sun during a solar eclipse can cause retinal burns or ” eclipse blindness ” due to the harmful UV radiations that are emitted. Based on a series of observations, our ancestors probably might have reached to the conclusion that it was not advisable to set out during an eclipse.
- Menstruation comes with a period-
With several restrictions being imposed on women even today, people fail to give a reasoning for the same. During the ancient days, besides for women having a weak immune system, there was also a lack of hygiene facilities. Thus, in order to let the ladies rest, and for them not get in a mess or fall prey to infections, females were advised to not step out of their homes.
However, with enough advancement and development, enforcement of several rules and regulations on the women is not required and deemed as unnecessary today.
- Having curd-sugar before heading for the day-
Curd has a cooling effect on the stomach, whereas, sugar provides instant glucose to the body. Therefore, in a tropical climate as that of India’s, this combination’s consumption helps keep a person calm and enthusiastic.
- Sweeping at night brings bad luck-
In the olden days, electricity was absent and the lamps did not generate enough light. Thus, in order to not sweep away any important article or ornament in the dark, such a ritual was devised.
Similar is the case with not cutting nails after sunset. Due to darkness, one might hurt oneself while doing the deed.
However, with an improvement in the availability of resources and electricity today, these beliefs are but, mere superstitions.
- Throwing coins in water bodies-
Throwing coins in fountains and other water bodies for good luck is now done all over the world. Again, there is a scientific reason for why this started. In ancient times, the coins were made of copper, which is an essential element for our body’s well-being. Rivers used to be the main source of drinking water then. When the copper coins remained in the water for long, it became beneficial for those who drank it. Copper also helps to kill bacteria present in the water.
In today’s era, this doesn’t make sense as our coins are made of stainless steel.
- Applying tilak before leaving for an important work-
Mid-brow region is the major nerve point of the body, also known as the “Ajan Chakra”. Applying tilak acts as an acupressure at this nerve point and helps in dealing with stress and anxiety. Chandan could also be applied in place of Vermillion, in order to keep the person calm.
This is the reason why some females apply ‘bindis’.
- A black cat crossing the way is inauspicious-
In olden days, people used to travel by carts that were pulled by domesticated animals. When passing through forests at night, the carriage animals used to get scared and act chaotically when they sensed wild cats such as leopards, cheetahs, and tigers crossing their path. This made the travelers warn others to not proceed when a cat passes their pathway.
But today, this belief does not hold any significance. As Groucho Marx had said, “If a black cat crosses your path, it signifies that the animal is going somewhere”.
- Twitching of the eye is an omen-
Twitching of the eye is considered to be either a good or a bad omen. But in reality, twitching is an involuntary condition and often related to some medical condition. Thus, these twitches act as a warning to a person to visit a doctor at the earliest possible, which may highlight a problem or indicate some good news that is on the way.
- Compulsory to bathe after attending a funeral-
Primitive days lacked appropriate hygiene and medical facilities. Funeral spots were a hub of both infections and germs. Thus, in order to not catch infections, bathing was made compulsory.
But, with the ever-growing technology and new inventions, even if a person doesn’t take bath after attending a funeral, s/he won’t fall prey to deadly infections or diseases.
- Nimbu-Mirchi to avoid ‘buri nazar’-
This nimbu-mirchi totka is often encouraged due to the qualities of lemons and chillis. Apart from being rich in vitamins and various nutrients, they also have antibacterial and antifungal properties that keep the insects and pests at bay. The thread running through them absorbs all their supplements and keeps the air fresh and smelling good.
Following rituals and traditions is a matter of pride. However, doing so blindly is a folly. Our progenitors came up with all the rituals because of some logic and scientific reasoning behind them, which was highly significant back then. However, we today follow those rituals just on the basis that it was imparted to us by our forerunners. It was a need then to abide by some rules, but now, with India evolving enormously, most of the practices do not stand applicable or suitable. While with certain remaining customs, being able to know the logic behind them makes even the millennials of today embrace them with open arms. And we all might have to agree that once we get to know the reason behind the superstitions, they don’t seem all that weird, do they?