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My dad used to wear a red t-shirt each time Sachin Tendulkar came down to bat so that he doesn't get out till the end and India wins! Sound familiar..? Many of us grew up having such beliefs. Beliefs and luck charms help in positive reinforcement and bring hope to our lives.But what if we start believing or rather living in the fear of the unknown? What if we start believing that we can control certain outcomes in our lives if we adhere to or refrain from certain practices?We do not realise when a certain superstition has turned into our belief system.
Superstition is believing in the unknown and linking two events. Supersitions have nothing to do with race; as the West, Middle Easterners and people from the world over have their own set of superstitions like...
-A cracked mirror brings 7 years of bad luck
--Bubbles in coffee means money coming your way.
--Opening and closing a scissor without using it brings bad luck..etc.
Unconsciously, we tend to inherit these superstitions in our lives from our family, friends, etc. believe and practice them and also pass them on to our future generations and thus the cycle continues...
I felt the most annoying superstition that I had to battle with while growing up was the ones surrounding menses. I am sure all the ladies, regardless of their religious background must have faced annoying discrimination during that time of the month. There are certain practices we follow like not letting a lady leave the house or engage in household chores are for her to rest, as she rightly needs to those days. But certain rigid beliefs or superstitions surrounding menses like it's unholy for a women to enter a palace of worship, not right for her to shower, etc are not only controlling the life of a woman, but also keeping the country backward.
The question is how far do we go to practice these superstitions which have no relevance today or demeans the existence of science in our lives? We keep talking of quitting them but are scared of the outcomes too..it's like who will bell the cat and when?..
My mom insists on a having the famous 'anti buri nazar' kaala tikka on my son's forehead before he leaves the house, even if it's for a stroll. There was a time when I forgot the ritual and left home to get my son's vaccines.The next day my son was down with mild fever and cold. You should have guessed by now that the absence of the "kaala tikka" was blamed for the condition of my son, which I later clarified as a reaction/side effect of the vaccines given. But it was a daunting task I have to admit to make elders realise the scientific occurances and stop associating every little incident with some belief/supersition.
I also realised that day that if someone had to stop this from continuing, that someone has to be 'Me'. I cannot disagree with certain practices and also continue to follow them to please some people or appear like a obedient person. I would not want my child to grow up and fall prey to such supersitions just because they have been practiced since generations.
I had to take my husband into confidence from that day to make him realise the change that we need to bring in, and it wasn't very difficult, as we both believe in science rather than superficial practices leading to some kind of problems.The only way out was to:
1. Think positive:
The key to get rid or change a way of life, is to start believing that it's possible and we are on the right path. It's only then we can practice and pass on the same lifestyle to our loved ones.
We cannot change the thinking or outlook of certain people or the society at large, but all we can do is set an example for our children to emulate. Obviously, when the perceived changes benefit people, they would start changing themselves, rather than we convincing them to change.
2. Think scientific:
Let go of the fear that is associated with certain practices, and you can easily relate them to science or sometimes nature.
It's easier said than done, but not impossible. Like mentioned earlier, it's ok to "keep your fingers crossed" to expect good luck; but believing that a black cat crossing your path would bring bad luck, should be done away with. What has an animal got to do with your luck anyways?
Having said that, we must realise that we do have certain practices in our culture which have scientific background and they do offer a lot of value in our life and we should pass them on to our children too. Things like:
- When it comes to meals, we start with spice & end with sweet:
We Bengalis start off with something bitter , but nevertheless, our ancestors have stressed on the fact that our meals should be started off with something spicy and sweet dishes should be taken towards the end. The significance of this eating practice is that while spicy things activate the digestive juices and acids and ensure that the digestion process goes on smoothly and efficiently, sweets or carbohydrates pulls down the digestive process. Hence, sweets were always recommended to be taken as a last item.
-Applying Mehendi/ Henna on the hands and feets during weddings:
Besides ladies loving mehendi, the scientific reasoning behind this practice is that weddings are stressful, and often, the stress causes headaches and fevers. As the wedding day approaches, the excitement mixed with nervous anticipation can take its toll on the bride and groom. Application of mehndi can prevent too much stress because it cools the body and keeps the nerves from becoming tense. This is the reason why mehndi is applied on the hands and feet, which house nerve endings in the body.
-Science behind fasting:
The underlying principle behind fasting is to be found in Ayurveda. This ancient Indian medical system sees the basic cause of many diseases as the accumulation of toxic materials in the digestive system. Regular cleansing of toxic materials keeps one healthy. By fasting, the digestive organs get rest and all body mechanisms are cleansed and corrected.
And the list can go on if you really delve into certain Indian practices...
3. Believe in yourself and the Almighty:
Nothing much to pen here, as this step is the most vital practice we have to engage in inorder to strengthen our belief system and create better values in our children.
Children need to understand that prayers are heard and answered by God in some way or the other. Always believe in the almighty and nothing can ever go wrong in your life. Even if you faulter or fail at something, it's for a reason and not a chain reaction because of a practice or belief.Most important is to learn from our mistakes. Forwarding text about religion or God to 10 people will not change your luck; its only your efforts that can bring you closer to your goals.
Keep what you find value in and let go of what binds you to certain kind of thinking. We need our children to lead a life which others would want to emulate and having the correct outlook towards life is the first step towards it.
Hopefully you have found value in spending your time reading this.