In India, along with kudumba mahima, superstitions get passed down from generation to generation. We might consider ourselves rational, but we often blindly follow century-old superstitious beliefs because they have been conditioned into us. Let us look at a few such beliefs that are still widely popular.
Do not cut nails at night
Have you ever taken a nail cutter at night and heard your mom screaming, “Rathri nagam vettan padila”? And have you ever asked her the reason for the same? Mostly, she would not have a reason, she was passing down what her parents had told her.
Long ago, people used primitive tools such as a blade or knife to cut their nails. On top of that, there was no electricity. Well, cutting your nails with a blade under a lantern is a risky affair. Hence, it took birth to the theory that one should not cut their nails at night.
Black cat crossing your path is a bad omen
This belief originated in Egypt, where black cats are considered evil. In India, the colour black is associated with Lord Shani. Hence in both cultures, black cats crossing your path is considered to be inauspicious. But there is no proven logic to this belief.
During the olden days, people traveled in carts pulled by animals. When these animals sensed cats in their path and saw their glowing eyes in the dark, they would get scared and agitated, which caused accidents. Hence travellers are usually cautious about cats crossing their path at night. This is apparently how our belief in black cats and bad omen analogy took birth.
Do not sweep/mop at night
It is generally believed that sweeping or mopping your house after sunset will drive away Goddess Laxmi and bring you bad luck. Technically this is correct, but only during the ancient era when there was no electricity. During those days, if you swept or mopped your house after sunset, there was a high chance of accidentally sweeping off precious items such as ornaments. So there was a risk of driving out the Goddess of wealth (Goddess Laxmi) from your home. Now you know where such superstitions originate from.
Menstruating women should not cook
It is believed that when a menstruating woman touches food, it becomes impure, so they should abstain from cooking. But have you ever wondered about the logic behind such a belief?
Sanitary pads were invented in the 1880s, and painkillers for menstrual pain became popular much later in the 20th century. Before the availability of these two products, menstruation was a very uncomfortable experience for women. They would use cloths instead of pads which had to be hand washed. This would lead to the spread of bacteria and contaminate the food cooked by them. Hence they are usually asked to rest and not participate in the household chores. Later, as years passed, this logical reason was forgotten, and the myth of impurity got attached to menstruation.
One should bathe after attending a funeral else the spirit will haunt
Will a deceased’s spirit haunt the one who does not bathe after a funeral? Well, spirits might not haunt them, but bacteria would haunt them. Once a person dies, the body starts to decompose, and the people attending the funeral get exposed to various bacteria. This is why people are advised to take a bath immediately after attending a funeral and not to ward off ghosts.
Plastering the floor with cow dung is auspicious
This is one of those superstitions that exist even today. You will find houses with cow dung plastered on the floor in rural and many urban areas. Many people follow this practice because they consider it to be auspicious. But have you ever wondered why this is done?
Cow dung is a natural disinfectant that can help keep away insects and reptiles. Cow dung was used when people could not afford to buy a disinfectant.
Throwing coins in water bodies brings good luck
During ancient times, coins were made of copper, an element that helps purify water by helping to sediment dust particles. Plus, copper also has other health benefits, such as it improves digestion, increases brain efficiency, minimizes the risk of heart disease, etc. Since our ancestors used to drink water directly from the water bodies, it was made a practice to throw copper coins into them to get these added benefits. But today’s coins are not made of copper, and the utility of throwing them in water is debatable.
Many of the superstitions we follow have a logical reason behind them, but the issue is that it is no longer applicable in the current era. So before you blindly put faith in such beliefs, question their usage too.