20 Most Common Superstitions in India
Since time immemorial, the human race has been living in the shadow of superstitions. Superstition is defined as any belief or practice that is based on supernatural occurrences and contradicts modern science or reasoning. Such beliefs typically differ from one culture to the next. India has a lot of ridiculous superstitions, which can range from harmless practices like eating curd before leaving the house to downright bizarre beliefs like menstruating women are impure. Most of them have no scientific basis and defy logic, but many Indians (even the most educated) continue to blindly follow them. You can either believe in them or laugh at them; either way, they make for an interesting read. So, let’s take a look at a few famous age-old superstitions that we can’t seem to shake even in today’s world.
1). Black Cats Bring Bad Luck
For Indians, black represents Lord Shani and bad luck. They believe that if a black cat crosses your path, your tasks will be delayed or postponed. Therefore, you should stop, turn around, or wait for someone else to pass before you do. Western culture shares this belief as well. Their origins can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where black cats were thought to be evil creatures.
2). Lemons and Chilies Wards of Evil
If you hang a string of seven chilies and a lemon outside your home/office/shop, no evil spirit will enter. According to Hindu legend, Alakshmi, the goddess of misfortune, relishes sour and spicy foods. The lemon and chilies dangling outside your door satisfy her hunger, and she does not enter. It is also very common in India to hang this string in front of vehicles to appease the deity. The ‘Nimbu totka’ is likely derived from a culture that encouraged its use due to the qualities of lemon and chili. Given that they are both high in vitamins, it is likely that our ancestors attempted to spread this practice which eventually developed into a superstition.
3). Cutting Nails or Hair on Saturday is Inauspicious
Hindus consider it taboo to cut hair and nails on a Saturday as this enrages Lord Shani (Saturn) and brings bad luck. You should also avoid clipping your nails after sunset because it may summon a witch. This superstition must have originated in ancient times when cutting nails without electricity could result in injuries. It was therefore advised to complete the task before dusk.
4). Eating Curd before Stepping out Brings Good Fortune
Eat a spoonful of curd with sugar before leaving for important work or an exam. This will prove to be very auspicious, and you will complete your task. Initially, this mixture of curd and sugar may have been given to provide instant energy and a calming effect in hot weather, but over time its consumption came to be associated with good luck.
5). Do Not Sweep After Sunset
Laxmi (the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) is said to visit homes in the evenings. If you sweep in the evening, you will drive her away. So, if you’re looking for wealth, avoid using the broom after sunset. One can only assume that this superstition arose from a fear of losing something valuable while sweeping in the dark.
6). Eye Twitching Predictions
Your eyes twitching can indicate what is in store for you. But it all depends on your gender and eye position. For men, a right eye twitch means good news, while a left one is ominous. For women, the scenario is the exact opposite. Eye twitching can occur for a variety of medical reasons. Indians, however, interpret it very differently.
7). Crow Shit Brings Luck
Yes, you read that correctly. Crow’s shit is thought to be lucky. A common misconception holds that if a crow poop on you, it will bring you good fortune. So, the next time you’re on the receiving end of crow shit, think of the positive aspects.
8). Small Black Spot Protects against Negative Energies
Placing a small black Tikkas (spot) on the person will help to counteract the effects of evil eyes. A child’s cheek, forehead, or area behind the ear is frequently marked with kohl. According to this line of reasoning, the black spot will make the toddler appear ugly and shield them from negative vibes.
9). Don’t go near a Peepal Tree at Night
Resting under a Peepal tree at night is strictly forbidden because Peepal trees are thought to be haunted by scary ghosts after sunset. It’s likely that our ancestors were aware of photosynthesis and the repercussions of breathing in carbon dioxide at night. A legend of ghosts was consequently created around peepal trees, discouraging people from going near them at night. Or perhaps our forefathers were alarmed by the falling drops that resulted from the guttation process during the summer. Regrettably, it has devolved into superstition.
10). Don’t Step Out During Eclipse
If proper precautions are not taken, a solar eclipse can cause blindness and retinal burns. However, in India, we took it a step further and now consider them a bad omen. Based on their observations, our forefathers most likely concluded that going out during an eclipse was not a good idea. During the eclipse, people will not leave their homes, will not cook or eat food, and will instead pray. Pregnant women are especially advised not to step outside during the eclipse to protect their unborn children from skin diseases.
11). Shaking Legs may Result in a Loss of Wealth
In India, shaking one’s legs is more than just a sign of nervousness and anxiety. Prosperity is supposed to flow away from you if you shake your legs. It’s possible that the superstition arose from the old belief that shaking your leg denotes idleness, which is also a deterrent to wealth. So, if you don’t want to lose your fortune, stop fidgeting.
12). Itchy Palms Brings Wealth
The itching of palms is a sign that wealth is coming your way. However, it may also imply that you have to shell out money. To be honest, there is a lot of ambiguity regarding which palm itching indicates what. Right-hand itch is considered lucky by some, while left-hand itch is presumed fortunate by others. Gender also plays a role in determining which palm is lucky or unlucky. Perhaps you can decide what is fortunate based on your own experiences.
13). If you Step on Someone, They Will not Grow
Superstition holds that if someone is lying down, you should avoid walking over them because they will never get any taller. And you should step over someone again in reverse if you walked over them by mistake. Isn’t that a valid reason to start a fight with your sibling?
14). Leaving Out the 13th Floor
Ancient Christianity declared that the number 13 was unlucky, and this superstition is widely believed throughout the globe. Numerous superstitions and folkloric elements pertaining to the number 13 exist worldwide. India went one step further, and to this day, the 13th floor of towers is not present in many residential and commercial buildings. Purchasing a home on the thirteenth floor or with the number 13 is something that many Indians steer clear of.
15). Causes of Conflict
As popular myths spread throughout India, playing with your keys, passing scissors/knives, leaving your shows overturned, or handling salt are just a few incidents that can lead to fights. Anything with a sharp edge, in fact, should not be passed from hand to hand. The person using the sharp object would actually ask you to pick it up yourself and lay it down. It’s thought that passing knives or scissors could incite animosity between the parties involved.
16). Adding One Rupee is Considered Auspicious
Don’t be surprised if you find an odd coin in the gift envelope. Since one is regarded as a lucky number, the Shagun (gift envelope) must contain a number that ends in one. It could be 51, 101, 501, and so on. You can even find envelopes with a one-rupee coin embedded as a design.
17). Take a Bath After Attending a Funeral
After death, the body begins to decompose, and those who attend the funeral are exposed to bacteria from the deceased body. There were no vaccinations against hepatitis and other contagious diseases in ancient times. To avoid infection from the dead body, they therefore devised a series of customs to be observed following the funeral rites. However, since Indians are unwilling to abandon their traditions, it is still mandatory to bathe after attending a funeral ceremony.
18). Menstruating Women are Impure
Previously, women had to perform arduous and taxing chores such as cleaning, farming, lifting pots of water, grinding wheat, and so on. Considering their discomfort and pain during the menstrual cycle, they were excused from all household chores on the grounds that they were impure and unclean. Over time, this turned into a ritual that eventually gave way to superstition. Painkillers, high-quality sanitary pads, and a lack of physical labor have made life much easier for women in recent years. Unfortunately, many Indian households still prohibit menstruating women from entering temples, kitchens, and other auspicious places.
19). Broken Glass Brings Ill Fortune
Surprisingly, this one originated in ancient Rome, where it is believed that breaking mirrors would bring 7 years of bad luck. In India, elders advise against looking into a broken mirror because it could bring you 7 years of ill fortune. You are also not supposed to keep broken idols and mirrors in your house as it is considered a bad omen.
20). Spotting Mynahs
If you spot just one Mynah, it is bad luck; however, if you see a couple of them together, it is lucky for you. People actually wait for the other to appear. The Mynah myths do not end here. It is believed that if you find six of them together, you will gain financially.
Sadly, there are a lot more superstitions like this that are accepted and practiced in India. To be honest, we all have some faith in a few of them. Let me know in the comments which superstitions you believe in.