Friday, 31 October 2014

The Number 13

"Never cross a road if a black cat has crossed your path"
"If you sneeze before some work, the work is bound to fail"
"If you mutter the word 'oil' or 'tel' before leaving your home, something unasupicious will befall upon you."
"Wait for the Shubh Muhurat for anything auspicious, be it a medical checkup"
"Consult your horoscopes before getting married"
And the most famous...
"Do not plan anything auspicious on 13th of a month. Dont buy your home on the 13th floor."

I would like to analyze in this post, what caused the above mentioned superstitions to set their stronghold in India, how many of them were based on scientific and logical analogies, and may still hold true even to this day. How many of them are completely baseless, and why do people keep on sticking to them. Needless to say, most of these superstitions have made their way successfully through the new millennium into even this current decade. I may not be able to take up all of them in this post itself, but would definitely like to address all.

The Wicked Black Cat: Surprisingly, this superstition originate in India and has no reference whatsoever in any ancient Indian text. As a matter of fact, black cat was the Vahana of Goddess Shashthi, and symbolized childbirth in ancient India.
What was initially a mere propaganda, is now what people follow with blind faith. In earlier Egypt, the Goddess Bast, who was the Goddess of protection was actually a female black cat. In an attempt to denounce everything non-Christian, the then Christians declared a black cat to be a symbol of bad fate. This superstition propagated further and soon reached India.
Logical/Scientific value: None. This superstition is as good as useless.

Howling dogs: Howling dogs are said to be impeding signs of coming danger. It is believed that if someone listens to a howling dog, some great tragedy would befall on him.
The origin of this superstition turns out to be a very smart move by the ancient Indians. They had learned about the hearing abilities of dogs, and it has also been proved now that dogs have some sixth sense. Hence, howling dogs could very well predict natural calamities like earthquake, tsunami, or even heart attacks in advance and proper measure could be taken.
Logical/Scientific value: Credible to a limit. Not to be followed without reason

Sneeze and drink water: Another one of the most common and widespread superstition of all times is related to sneezing. This again, is based on a scientific logic. When we sneeze, the air and mucus leave our mouth and nose at the speed of 100 miles per hour. Science says that when this much amount of energy is released from the body, body becomes weak for a moment. Just before sneezing, one takes a deep breath  which increases flow of blood to the heart, increasing the heart rate. After sneeze, the heart rate drops all of a sudden, creating the effect of almost missing a heart beat. The western countries have a tradition of saying "Bless You". Saying "have something sweet", or "drink some water" is a way of asking the other person to relax.
Logical/Scientific value: Credible to a limit. Shall not be linked with any jinx or ominous behaviour.

Buri Nazar and the remedies: A superstition as widespread as the black cat and number 13, in the Indian sub-continent, is the Buri Nazar, or the evil-eye. Someone is looking very pretty in a party, or a child genius is celebrated in a parents-teacher meeting, or even getting a meagre salary-hike, can catch someone's fancy or the evil eye, and you are attacked by the Buri Nazar(yes, its that easy). If the person even feels a headache the next day, it confirms someone has set his or her evil eye. The remedy is to take a glass of water and dissolve some salt in it and rotate it around the affected person, immediately flushing it down afterwards.
Stupid, the cause and remedy, may sound, this is based on a solid medical foundation. Salt water attracts negative cosmic energy and breaks it down. It is equally important to throw the contaminated water away regularly.
Logical/Scientific value: Highly credible remedy , but not in the way it is followed in India.

Playing with scissors: Unnecessarily playing with scissors causes rifts in a home. How else would someone educate a child not to play with sharp objects like knife and scissors. A theory was developed around scissors and rifts. Creating fear in a child's mind helps, but thats not the best way always
Logical/Scientific value: Valid only for children, even that is debatable.

Right foot first: The superstition has got more to do with the psych and psychology of a person, than what is right to do and what is wrong. When setting on an important journey or a task, it is important to be in the right and correct frame of mind. Keeping right foot first is training yourself sub-consciously to be upright in the journey. This again, however, depends on the person, rather than "always right foot". Some people may feel more confident setting their left foot forward first. This is a highly personalized practice.
Logical/Scientific value: Again, as good as useless.

The twitching eyes: A left eye twitching on its own is a bad omen, while the right eye twitching on it own means a good news is on its way, or some success on its way. As per modern science, this is nothing more than a sham, this being the only superstition with no logical reasoning whatsoever.
Twitching of eye is a neurological disorder, like Perkinson's disease and should be taken care of, instead of feeling happy about it.
Logical/Scientific value: Again, as good as useless.

The Number 13: A lesser known fact is that 2 days before Diwali(in some regions 1 day before Diwali), Dhanteras is celebrated as the day when one should buy new utensils or jewellery, as it is considered auspicious, however, the day falls on 13th day in the month of Ashwin. Shivratri is celebrated on the 13th night of the Magha month. The probable cause of surge of number 13 as an unlucky number seems to be in the ritual when after death of a person, a ceremonial fast is held in remembrance of the departed soul on the 13th day after his death.
Logical/Scientific value: What began as an innocent practice now faces us in the form of a big and unhealthy superstition with no logical or scientific base whatsoever.

Think of it, India was chosen to be God's own country. Why else would civilization first sow its roots in this land. the intellect of ancient sages, the knowledge of the Vedas, it was all bestowed upon us out of all the lands of the world.
Its a pity, that from being a holy land we are now more of a Land of Superstitions. Most of the practices are followed out of habit and superstition more than intent and the need. people go on teaching these things to their children without even explaining, probably because they themselves are not aware. This awareness has to rise, if we want to get rid of the shackles of superstitions.

Coming up with a book based on Indian history/mythology.
Please join the Facebook page and invite others as well to do the same.
Please help me promote the book and the page and make it a huge success.

Please click here and like the page which comes up - Finders, Keepers

If you liked the above post, please click on Khoj-In Search of lost signs and like the page which opens up. Bidding Adieu for now.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Festival of Lights

I will keep this post light and simple. Festival of Diwali is just round the corner, and there is no point expecting readers to spend a good few half an hour in front of their laptops/mobile phones. But, amidst this very debate of crackers v/s no crackers, people often bring up the point of "What's the point of fire crackers?" in their conversation. Well, lets sit back for a moment and have a look at the festival of Diwali. Who knows, a few people may get some answers here and there?

A point of confusion:  Lets move directly to the day when Rama has just defeated Ravana, the day, we celebrate even today as Dusshehra. Now, Ram was a pious king, so he would have made sure that the bodies of all soldiers were ceremoniously cremated. He also waited for Vibhishana to be crowned king of Lanka, or whatever remained of it. He would have bid adieu to Sugriva, Jamavant, Nala, Neela, and others. All of this could have taken a day, or two, when Rama along with Laxman and Sita would have started back for Ayodhya. All of them reach Ayodhya and the entire town broke into celebrations, the day, we still celebrate as Diwali. Which means, it took all three of them some 18-19 days to travel back the distance of 3253 km. This certainly seems to be a bit far fetched, especially knowing that they crossed sea, and high altitude mountains and dense forests, not to mention they didnt have any maps. How did they do it then? Ramayana mentions a certain Pushpak Vimana, but could they fly in those days?
To get the answers of the above question, please like the page of my upcoming book, Finders, Keepers. There is no point missing a chance of promoting your book :)

The burning of crackers: Its always been a nature of history, that what we see around us today, may not have been because of results of one singular act of events in history, but a combination of results of a number of acts together in history, which led to the very activity that we see in front of us.
Interestingly, there is no mention either in Ramayana or any other scripture of those times of burning of firecrackers when Rama along with Sita returned back to Ayodhya in Pushpak Viman. Then how did this act of burning of crackers got associated with the festival of Diwali?

As per some scriptures, there was a demon Narakasura who ruled the kingdom of Pradoshyapuram, who was the son of Bhumi Devi. He had a boon that he could be killed only by his mother. and Bhumi Devi had already died in his childhood. That had made him immortal in a way.
The king was evil and had even troubled Indra with his atrocities. Indra requested Krishna to end the evils of Narakasura. Krishna requested his wife, Satyabhama to accompany him  in this quest as he was aware that Satyabhama was the reincarnation of Bhumi Devi.
Krishna fought an epic battle with Narakasura and destroyed his army but was heavily injured by Narakasura because of his boon. Seeing an injured Krishna, Satyabhama picked up his Chakra and killer Narakasura out of fury.

Before his death, he requested for a boon from Krishna and Satyabhama that people should celebrate his death anniversary by lighting up their houses, distributing sweets and bursting firecrackers. His boon was granted by Satyabhama and Krishna and they blessed him that his death anniversary would be celebrated on the day of Diwali, which was already celebrated to mark the return of Rama and Sita back to Ayodhya.

The scientific angle: Believe it or not, there is a very scientific angle reated to burning of crackers and lighting lamps around this time of the year. Diwali comes at the onset of winters, and the rainy season is almost coming to an end.
With water being stagnant, mosquitoes and other insects  breed a lot, bringing with them a whole lot of  diseases.  In the older days when healthcare was not so advanced, bursting firecrackers was seen as one way to rid the atmosphere of  the insects, kill the bugs around. Also in a way burning firecrackers was one way of welcoming the winter chill, that was just about setting in

The etymological reasons: As per certain historians, the practice of burning of crackers originated in China as a means of warding off evil and notorious spirits by scaring them with loud bursting sounds and lights. Soon, this practice spread to other parts of the world, including India.
In the early days, the practice of burning of crackers and lighting of lamps was done to entertain the royals and the kings only, but soon, the practice associated a religious significance of symbolizing the victory of good over evil with itself, and burning of crackers became a regular practice at Diwali.
People had already been celebrating Diwali by lighting lamps, and cleaning their houses by then, as a mark of return of Rama and Sita to Ayodhya, and soon other practices also came to be getting associated with Diwali.

I didnt touch upon the Rama v/s Ravana part much in the above post, as that is one story that we have been listening to, hearing from our grannies since a long time, and in my knowledge, almost everyone if aware of. But, that doesnt stop me from mentioning how Diwali is still symbol of victory of the good over the evil. The tale of the victory of Rama over Ravana, or the tale of death of Narakasura at the hands of Satyabhama certainly strengthen the belief.
So, make your own decision on how you want to celebrate the festival of lights, and there is no particular way by which Diwali should be celebrated. As long as you are comfortable with your own way of celebrations, you should stick to it and celebrate the day as a symbolic victory of good over evil.

I would like to end this post now.
Coming up with a book based on Indian history/mythology.
Please join the Facebook page and invite others as well to do the same.
Please help me promote the book and the page and make it a huge success.

Please click here and like the page which comes up - Finders, Keepers
Bidding Adieu for now.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Finders, Keepers

A warm hello to all the esteemed readers and patrons of this blog.
I am really grateful of high the readers of this blog have appreciated, liked, and encouraged the articles they found over here.
I am really fortunate enough to find myself such interactive and interested readers,who would actually appreciate, suggest modifications and discuss pointers in an attempt to further improve the articles, and thus, this very blog.
Needless to say, this blog has seen a fair amount of rise in the numbers of visitors per day, which not only read, but also leave their valuable comments for me to ponder upon, revaluate, retrospect and come back more powerful.

After a few odd 56000+ views, I am proud to announce, that Leadstart Publishing has decided to publish my first ever novel, which goes by the name of "Finders, Keepers"

Finders Keepers is a fictional novel based on Indian history and mythology. If you have been an avid follower of the blog, you know what to expect, in there. If you havent been, well, the book would still be able to hold your interest.

Please join the Facebook page and invite others as well to do the same.
Please help me promote the book and the page and make it a huge success.

Please click here and like the page which comes up - Finders, Keepers

With great hopes that the way you guys have liked my blog, you will like the book as well, I would wait in anticipation as you guys keep joining the page :)