Superstitions: Religious Phenomenon or a Scientific Approach?
Did you just sneeze before walking out the doors? Did a black cat just cut your way? Did you see a love bird roaming alone?
Well, there are tremendous number of superstitions circulating since long, mainly dated back to 15th century. Circulating around society’s belief of a higher power controlling bad/good, this ritual of following superstitions is very significant in ruining the future events of the life.
In today’s time, though it is mainly considered irrational and ignorance of scientific knowledge. Let’s talk about how it all started.
In 1948, B.F. Skinner, a behavioural psychologist observed some strange behaviour with his pigeons showing some superstitious behaviour. One pigeon was making turns in his cage, another was swinging his head in a pendulum motion, others also behaving in such weird ways. Since this behaviour was in a ritual attempt of demanding food. Though this concept was argued over by other scholars, this behaviour of pigeons was used to explain the superstitious behaviour in humans.
Now, talking about superstitions as a modern concept.
An irrational belief, makes people act in a strange way, believe in odd things; things they don’t have an appropriate explanation for.
Here are some of the common superstitions believed by numerous people:
- Black cats walking in front of you, stepping on their tails, them sneezing inside your home – a significant other of witches casting an evil spell on people.
- Walking under a ladder, over a broom, disruption of shape of water, breaking a mirror.
- Uncovered bald heads starts a rain.
- Shaving a head on Saturday caused you to be in a perpetual debt.
- Friday, the 13th.
- Knock twice on the wood
- Opening an umbrella inside the house
- Giving your gloves as a gift to someone may lead to unfortunate future for him.
- Itchy palm
- Saying “god bless you”
- Spilling salt over the shoulder
- Finding a horseshoe
- Bird droppings on the head
- Throwing coins in a well/pond
- Crossing of fingers
- Objects such as horseshoes and rabbit’s feet are commonly believed to bring good fortune.
- Good luck attributed to the number 7.
Though, many superstitions have a logic behind them, which is not a common knowledge for the general population. Here are some of the scientific/ logic approaches towards some of the superstitious beliefs.
- When menstruating, girls shouldn’t visit a temple
The reason is not the dirtiness women contains while on periods, its because in the earlier times, sanitary pads were not available, so women were already very uncomfortable during that period. Visiting anywhere would disturb their situation and take away their rest time.
- Avoid sleeping under the Peepal tree at night
People think it is because of the spirits resting on the trees and if someone sleeps there at night, the ghosts may get attached to them and their life can be in danger. Many are unaware that the actual reason for this is that Peepal tree releases maximum amount of Carbon Dioxide at night which can cause respiratory diseases.
- Avoid sweeping floors at night
People believe that it brings bad luck to sweep or dust at night. In actuality, something important may get swept away if done during night.
- Black cat crossing your path
It is believed that if a black cat passes the path before you do, it brings bad luck and your whole day might get spoiled. The reasonable explanation behind it is that in older times (when carts were pulled by animals), if the animals saw a black cat, they used to go rogue and if effected the smooth cart journey. Thus, it was avoided.
- Hanging a lemon and green chillies in shops
The cotton thread that passes through the lemon and the chillies absorbs the acids, vitamin C and the other nutrients present in it which is then released into the air by slow vapourization. This is said to have significant health benefits and our ancestors made it an essential part of ceremonies to increase its use.
- Throwing coins in water
Throwing coins in fountains and other water bodies for good luck is done all over the world. In ancient times, the coins were made of copper, which is an essential element for our body’s well being. Rivers used to be the main source of drinking water. When the copper coins remained in the water for long, it became beneficial for those who drank it. Copper also helps to kill bacteria present in the water.This is the scientific explanation for this.
Hence these superstitions shouldn’t be a reason to hurt and disturb our minds yet should be taken positively and some of them should be followed for our wellness. Whereas some of them should be eradicated from our minds.