Are you superstitious?

My left eye was twitching  a few days ago and I was afraid, that, something was going to go amiss. That’s what I had been brought up to believe, you know. Much as I would have liked to believe, that, it was all nonsense, I could not get that persistent feeling of impending doom to go away. However, once I got busy in the tedium of the daily routine, I promptly forgot about the whole thing. It was later in the evening when someone scraped my car, in an area without much traffic, that I remembered the twitching eye again.

When I think about it, with my rational thinking cap on, I come to the conclusion, that, it was only an accident. One that could have happened, and had happened earlier also, on any given day irrespective of the twitch in the left eye. It had happened because the other driver was not driving carefully and it had nothing to do with my eye. I berate myself for falling prey to such superstitions, not befitting a rational and educated person. But somehow despite all the rationalization, there is that nagging feeling that maybe there is some truth in these matters. Maybe, it’s the way we have been brought up. It is difficult to wish away a life time’s training which inculcates these beliefs.

It is not that only Indians are superstitious. It is a world-wide phenomenon. The forms may vary but their essence is the same. How did superstitions grow in the first place? I think they may have evolved because of our collective experiences. Man-kind must have observed a pattern of events over a very long period of  time and may have come to associate certain effects to specific causes. That is why it is cultural. All societies have their peculiar experiences leading to typical forms of superstitions. Indians would like to believe that if a cat were to cross your path, the work you were going for would not be successfully accomplished. The cure, it seems, is to either return or take another route or even wait till someone else goes ahead of you. Another one is that if there is itching in the left palm, one is going to have to spend some money. If the itching is in the right palm, you are likely to get some money. In fact, anything to do with the left side is usually considered inauspicious.

One also likely to believe more in these things if one is feeling low or if things are not going his way generally. Maybe at such times, one feels more vulnerable and fears the worst. He would, therefore, not want to take any risk and try to resort to a remedy to overcome the bad effects of such omens. It is interesting to note that most ill omens have a remedy to overcome their ill effects. They were prescribed by the shaman or the medicine men and have continued since then.

If these are just superstitions without any rational basis, the only way to overcome them is not to teach them to our children and hopefully, they would go away in a generation or two. But it seems unlikely to happen, keeping in view how widespread they are.





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