SUPERSTITION AND INDIA

Superstition refers to any belief or practice that is caused by supernatural causality, and which contradicts modern science. Superstition beliefs and practices often vary from one person to another or from one culture to another, ranging from harmless practices such as lemon-and-chili totems in order to ward off the evil eye to harmful acts like witch-burning. Superstitions have two main causes: cultural tradition and individual experiences. If you grew up steeped in the superstitions of a particular culture or religion, you may carry these beliefs forward, even subconsciously.

Psychologists who have investigated what role superstitions play have found that they derive from the assumption that a connection exists between co-occurring non-related events. For instance, the notion that charms promote good luck, or protect you from bad luck. Superstitions are usually attributed to lack of education. However, this has not always been the case in India, as there are many educated people with beliefs considered superstitions by the public. Being part of religion and tradition practices have been passed down from one generation to another for centuries. The Indian Government has tried to put new laws prohibiting such practices into effect. Due to the rich history of superstitions, these laws often face a lot of opposition from the general public.

Past supersitions

  • Sati system – Sati is the act or custom of a Hindu widow burning herself or being burned to death on the funeral pyre of her husband. After watching Sati of his own sister-in-law, Ram Mohan Roy began campaigning for abolition of the practice in 1811. The practice of Sati was abolished by Governor General Lord William Bentinck in British India. On October 1 1987, the legislative assembly of Rajasthan passed an ordinance against Sati which was later turned into an Act. On 3 January 1988, the Indian parliament passed a new law ( Commission Prevention of Sati Act 1987 )based on Rajasthan’s legislation of 1987.
  • Human sacrifice – Although human sacrifice are not prevalent in India, rare isolated incidents do happen, especially in rural areas. In some cases, human have bee replaced by animals and birds. This has caused backlash from animal rights groups, so in some places they have again been replaced by human affigies. The motives behind these sacrifices include inducing rainfall and helping childless women conceive. It is alleged that cases often go unreported or are covered up. Between 1999 and 2006, about 200 cases of child sacrifices were reported from Uttar Pradesh.

Common Superstitions

  • Itchy palm: Good luck – There are many variations on this superstition. But the idea of having an itchy palm generally refers to someone who is greedy or has an insatiable desire for money. Some believe that if the right palm itches you will meet someone new, while an itchy left palm means that money is coming. Others tell that an itchy right palm means money coming in and a left handed itch foretells money going out.
  • Breaking a mirror – Many superstitions people say that breaking a mirror sets you up for 7 years of bad luck. That may be because 7 years is the time it takes to replace all the cells in your physical body. In a more superstitions time, mirrors were thought to be reflections of the soul. So breaking a mirror was believed to be harmful to the soul.
  • Black cats: Bad luck – This superstitions is a tough one for cats lovers to swallow, but in the middle ages it was thought that witched kept black cats as companions.

Conclusion

A superstition is an irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion. Being too superstitious is opposite of being materialistic and realistic. It is the belief that certain events bring good or bad luck which cannot be explained by reason or science. In short, superstitions means blind belief.