Thursday, February 12, 2009

Andh-vishwas or Superstitions or illogical customs

Lot of us laugh talking about the so called superstitions from the yesteryear's. But has anybody given it a thought that there could be some logical reason behind them? I have. And after pondering over them I've realised that its us who are to be blamed and not the people from the bygone era who made these superstitions. I actually won't even want to call them 'superstition'. For me they were just the means of getting the others do something correctly. Since we all know common sense is not so common, people needed someone to guide them on the road to the common sense.

At the same time I don't agree with all of them. But again that could be because I do not know the real reason behind them.

Lets take the statement which directed not to broom after dusk else you will have theft in the house. For me there is no andh-vishwas in this. The statement was very much valid for the era when this would have originated. Those days when the source of lighting in the house was just a oil lamp, if you have dropped something on the floor and broom away, you will end up throwing it out without even realising. And then you would think there was a theft. Makes sense?

Now lets talk about a custom which is followed blindly at many households. A woman who was menstruating was not supposed to enter the kitchen or do any housework. She was just supposed to stay put in her room. People go on and lambast at whosoever created this custom. But I think it should be the people who follow it should be lambasted at instead. It made sense to me for having such a custom in those days because there was a lack of good sanitary options for a woman. There was a hygiene issue. I don't think I need to explain the hygiene issues involved here as I think I can safely presume and expect that the people who would be reading this would know the details. But now when we have so much at our disposal and when hygiene is not an issue, we are still following these customs blindly.

I can go on and on about such statements and customs but as they say "Buddhiman ke liye ishara kaafi hai". :D

So tell me know. Who do you think is to blame? Where is the fault? Times are changing and so should we. The problem is with US who do not want to look beyond, Who do know try to evaluate or analyse, who do not look at a problem in light with the current situation.

In the end all I would like to say "Nakal ke liye bhi akal chahiye".

P.S. I had been thinking of doing a post on this since long but reading this post by Cuckoo gave me the final push to go ahead.


  1. You are right nm. But there are some customs which are only laugh-worthy.
    e.g. a crow crowing in your window invites unwanted guests, so shoo it off.
    the person whose chappal is turned upside down will end up fighting with someone.

    I cannot reason out these.
    What you said is correct, it is up to an individual to decide whether to follow it or not.

  2. i have always maintained that all superstitions did not start out that way. They became superstitions because we forgot to ask "Why?" I always ask Why and surprisingly, a lot of things make sense after that. Some of them dont, and these things we do not follow.

    The other reason why the woman was asked to remain in her room is that the system can use some rest during this period, and this is the only way to ensure that she gets it. The custom of delivering the first child at the mother's house.. makes a lot of sense.. the girl may not yet be comfortable enough at her in laws and the first time experience can be quite intimidating. even today.

  3. Ya even i think a lot of things that our elders tell us makes a lot of sense and it shouldnt be shot down as superstition. Regarding the menstruation thing, i also feel that women were kept away from the kitchen becasue those were the only 3 days in the month that she got some rest and i think during menstruation a woman requires it. Maybe that is the reason why those women were fitter than us! In our age every fourth woman seems to have some kind of gyn problem, like cysts, fibroids etc. im not saying that lack of rest is the reason for it. but it a fact that these things were unheard of in the earlier generations.

  4. true, some superstitions do have some sense hidden in them...

  5. Thanks for mentioning my post here. Like you, I too try to find reasons behind those superstitions and have similar views as yours. They were (most of them) made at a time when there were no guidelines for us to follow. I believe they were for betterment of us but with time, they should have changed.

    Wait for my next post on this... my first hand experience on this issue. :)

    @akamonica: I don't fully agree with you on problems faced by today's women are more than our foremothers (is thr such a word? :P). At that time also we faced such problems but they were unknown to us. The causes & diseases were not discovered.

  6. i agree with you. they made sense then.
    but before we blindly follow them... we need to figure out whether they're relevant in today's day and age.
    following them blindly is what makes them superstitions.

  7. When those things first got 'launched
    ' they sure must have had a swell reason. A reason that would definitely have been time specific.

    But that times up !

    And i guess we miss the essence of that time and stick to the custom which makes it meaningless !

    For instance, at my anscestral home, you are not allowed to sweep the floor after 6.00 PM. Inauspicious they say. !

    Now that was funny. But imagine, an ancient time when there wasnt electricity et al. You wouldnt know what you would be sweeping out. The dust or parts of the gold jewellery !

  8. There is a saying 'Educated people QUESTION what they are told... Uneducated people DO what they are told!
    I too believe that superstitions originated to force people to follow it, even things are said like "Don't cross over anybody's legs, else that person will die", or "If you do this xyz thing, then God will get angry". But we need to question these things in light of today's situation. Even educated people of today are blindly following it, which I find very ignorant.
    So when someone tells me something like "Don't take iron pills when you are pregnant, else your baby will turn out to be dark-skinned", I ask the person for the scientific reasoning behind it. I do not follow something without a real reason. Reasons like "God won't like it" aren't valid reasons for me.

  9. U know what nm most of these andh-wishwas and customs had a strong logical reasoning behind them in those eras...

    the only problem i have is that the times have changed, they dont make sense anymore but we havent moved it...

    the crow one one made sense as during those times birds were the one used to carry messages

    the primary reason why women were kept in the room were hygiene purposes unfortunately there was no whisper at that time and it was extremely difficult to keep ursef clean... so the solution keep her in a room let her not go to a temple etc

    my itch is with the people who still dont go to the temple during these days

    even most of the wedding rituals that we just do for fun now had so much sense in those days... the girl should be in the house in rags two prior to marriage with an escort, then haldi is applied (natural facial:)) and think of it after two of being in rags when u dress u will look good right :)

  10. I don't know if it has something to do with being in a comfort zone. As a society, we find it more convenient and easy to go along with what has already been established rather than studying the changed social/cultural/financial environment, and implementing such changes in our daily lives. And that is the very reason why the social practices of yesteryears haunt us as superstitions now...

  11. What about that Superstition…… don’t cut your nails at Night? ……

    How does that make any sense but I am sure almost all follow it……

  12. I know they say a black cat crossing ur way brings bad luck. As luck wud have it, it did so right on the day of my 5th sem results in engg and I topped! It brought me gud luck rather.

    Anyways, may be few of them made sense and may be the others were coincidences which turned into beliefs.

  13. I grew up in Singapore so I has Chinese supersitions as well as desi ones. Even now, I get confused as which one is which.

    A Chinese one that my sister and I always follow is that never stick your chopsticks in the bowl of food, it will look like joss sticks offering to the dead. :)

    After I got married, as a new bride every relative I visited, gave me the dhal and rice in my saree palla(if I was wearing a saree/suit) which ensured a happy married life. I questioned why it was done, and was told by NK's nani that because grains were hard to find then and by giving it away,you were in essence ensuring the newly married couple had enough to eat. I then adopted that ritual amd had great fun with my friends or NK's friends' wife, if they come to my house as a new bride. One girl was so shocked I was doing it.

    Another one of my most favourite is putting oil on a newborn baby's head who visits for the first time. My mom and aunt actually would change my babies's outfits and give them massages.

    Sometimes, you cannot question everything. :)

    A long enough comment

  14. there were some that made sense and some just someone's figment of imagination perhaps! :p

    point is indeed to know why. following one or not is again a personal choice in any case! :)



  15. I thought over and tried to see through the logic amongst the so called superstitions. Well, I agree with your perspective, if we look logically into such things they did have some positive meaning and reason behind it.

  16. Hi ~nm, its been 5 days since you last posted- where are you ??

  17. Wow...the one about the broom is so well thought! Never really thought about that. You are right, we ourselves are to be blamed for following blindly. The things are I follow are silly like not cutting nails or hair on the day I was born etc :)

  18. Superstition becomes superstition when one trains one's mind to follow it blindly. Otherwise it is all a matter of convenience. When that matter of convenience becomes fear, it is then that the superstition interferes with life.


    this is a campaign against superstition...plzz do like it and post your views on superstition