We have almost 5,000 years of history detailing language, religion, literature, art, culture and ways of living. So it’s not hard to believe we may have picked up a few superstitions along the way. The Cambridge dictionary defines superstition as “a belief that is not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, but is connected with old ideas about magic, etc.” Indian superstitions and beliefs are quite rampant. There are many beliefs and superstitions in India that range from amusing to downright bizarre.
Just as a language will have different dialects in different regions, one superstition or belief might be practised in a variety of ways in different regions. While superstitions are usually attributed to lack of education, well-educated Indians also follow these superstitions quite blindly. Here are some of the most commonly held Indian superstitions. You can observe at least one of them being practised almost every day in most areas. Here’s a closer look at some superstitions in India.
Do You Believe In Any Of These Superstitions In India?
1. Warding Off Evil With Lemon And Chillies
Hanging a lemon and seven chillies strung together in the house at the front door or under the front bumper of your vehicle to protect against an evil eye and spirits is one of the most common superstitious beliefs in India. It is believed to have some scientific reason too, as to why this Indian superstition is practised. It’s said that lemon and chillies work as effective natural pesticides and natural antibacterials, thus protecting the home or whichever environment it is hung in.
2. Crow Shit Brings Luck
If you are on your way somewhere and a crow shits on you, it’s considered good luck. This Indian superstition is based on a belief that if you suffer an inconvenience you’ll have good fortune in return. So the next time when you need a little luck, try chasing down a crow to make sure it uses your head as target practice.
3. Adding One Rupee To A Gift
Giving cash as gifts is common practice in various Indian occasions, ranging from birthdays to weddings and festivals. A one rupee coin is added to the total amount, for it’s considered auspicious. This Indian superstition is especially relevant when it comes to gifting cash as a wedding gift. Therefore, you’ll see one rupee coins embedded as part of the design on most gift envelopes. In some parts of India, it is believed that if you give round figures like INR 500/1000 it signifies an end, but the added 1 rupee signifies that you wish the person to continue to get wealthy. In some other parts this particular superstitious belief tends to involve superstitious mathematics. For a wedding gift, it is believed that a number not divisible by two means that the remainder in the equation brings the couple together. However, an even number leaves no remainder when divided by 2, and would, therefore, represent a nullifying metaphor of the marriage.
4. Curd Before Going Out
One of the most common Indian superstitions, is to have a spoonful of curd with a little sugar before going out or embarking on a new journey to guarantee good luck. It is believed that the sweet starting note makes any task shubh or good and the day goes well. The root of this Indian superstition of having dahi-shakkar or curd with sugar might be related to the tropical climate—where eating curd has a cooling effect on your digestive system, while the sugar adds energy.
5. The Mynah Chronicles
While the Indian superstition of spotting a specific number of mynah birds or magpies might have originated from a British superstition, its origins cannot be determined. Seeing one common mynah bird is believed to bring bad luck, but seeing a couple of them is supposed to bring good luck. There is a bonus: If you see six of them together, it means you are going to receive some money.
6. No Cleaning The House After Sunset
Cleaning or sweeping the house after sunset is believed to scare off the Hindu goddess of wealth Lakshmi. There is some simple logic behind this Indian superstition. When it originated, there was no electricity, so it was a matter of practicality to have finished all the housework in daylight when everything was visible.
7. Cutting Hair And Nails After Sunset? Don’t!
Another one of the most common superstitions in India determines when to cut your hair and nails. If you cut your nails and hair on Thursdays and Saturdays it is said to bring bad luck. It is believed that such an act angers the planet Saturn (Shani), bringing on misfortune. In some parts of India, cutting your nails after sunset is also considered bad luck.
8. Kajal Dot On A Baby’s Forehead
The evil eye is a big deal in India. Therefore, Indians use different methods (or practices) to avoid it. The belief that even toddlers can be the victim of an evil eye spurs a superstition that calls for protection. In order to prevent unfortunate accidents, a lot of infants in India have a small spot (or several) of kaajal on their forehead and/or cheeks, even under their feet. Sometimes their eyes are lined with black kaajal too. This is supposed to ward off the evil eye.
9. Itchy Palms Can Mean Different Futures
According to Indian superstitions, an itchy palm indicates some internal energy moving to your palms. The reason for this is that the right palm is supposed to be dynamic or active, while the left hand is receptive or inactive. So when your right palm itches, it’s believed money will come in, but when your left palm itches, it will flow out.
10. Omitting The 13th floor
This isn’t just among the superstitions in India, fear of the number 13 is a common superstition around the world. It’s said to have originated from the fact that Jesus’ 13th disciple Judas was the one who betrayed him. It has trickled down to India too, along with the advent of Christianity. So much so that certain airlines often leave the 13th row in flights empty, while some hotels are built without labelling the 13th floor.
11. Upside Down Slipper
In some Indian households, it is believed that leaving your flip flops turned upside down will bring bad luck.
12. Eye Twitching
Yes, eye twitching is related to your destiny according to Indian superstitions. But, it also depends which eye twitches. As well as your gender. A twitching right eye brings good luck for men, while a twitching left eye brings good news for women.
13. Black Cat Crossing The Road
A black cat crossing your path is meant to signal that tasks get delayed or postponed. To reverse it, a passerby must spit, and drivers must make short crosses on the right side of their windshield. Some even wait till others walk by so that they are saved, the logic behind this is that the others will bear the brunt of the ‘curse’.
14. Don’t Step Out During An Eclipse
According to Indian superstitions, observing the sun during a solar eclipse should be avoided. Doing so may cause retinal burns or eclipse blindness. It is also suggested to not consume anything during the celestial event. Pregnant women are advised to remain indoors during the entire time as well.
15. Swallow Tulsi Leaves
This one is a popular Indian belief as our ancestors believed that Tulsi is goddess Lakshmi’s avatar and hence, it is often prayed to as well. The leave of Tulsi Mata is supposed to be swallowed and never chew to not show disrespect to the goddess.
16. Don’t Go Near A Peepal Tree At Night
Peepal trees are quite notorious in the Indian society. Our ancestors believed that peepal trees are where ghosts reside and it is considered a dangerous place at night. There are many who believe that if you sleep around this tree at night, the ghosts will kill you.
17. Taking Bath After A Funeral
It is believed that when the funeral rites are performed on the body of the deceased, it can be home to any kind of bacteria or infections. During these rites, the infections can spread in the air. Hence it is advisable in Indian customs and traditions to take bath soon after attending a funeral to wash off unnecessary infections.
18. Breaking A Mirror
According to this superstition, if a mirror breaks, it means seven years of bad luck. The curse can only be nullified if one takes the pieces outside and buries them under the moonlight. Also, if an undisturbed mirror in a house suddenly falls and smashes, it means that there will soon be a death.
19. Not saying Goodbye Before Leaving
It’s advisable to not say goodbye to someone or tell them something when they are going out the door. Our ancestors believed that calling someone’s name while they are going is bad luck. If one does so, the person leaving will be unlucky in whatever activity he/she was about to undertake.
20. Don’t Buy Black Shoes On Saturday
Buying black shoes on a Saturday is supposed to be inauspicious. According to Hindu Mythology, wearing black shoes on Saturdays disappoints Shani (god of justice in Hindu religion) and this might bring failure and create hurdles in your life.
Which Of These Bizarre Indian Superstitions Do You Follow?
Some Indians believe that the mysticism associated with the power in inanimate things have considerable influence over one’s life. Some of these have been handed down generations from our ancestors, who are revered to be wise. This is the reason why we can’t seem to let go of many age-old beliefs. Let us know if we have missed any of the most bizarre superstitions in India in the comments below!
Some good luck superstitions in India are eating curd before going out for an important task, spilling salt and hanging lemon and chillies at the gate.
A black cat crossing the road symbolizes bad luck in India, shaking your legs, eye twitching, a clock that is stuck and buying black shoes on Saturdays.
Some of the Indian superstitions are followed because of Indian mythology, many are passed down from our ancestors and simply followed out of habit, while some are based on scientific reasoning.
If a black cat crosses your path, it is meant to signal that tasks get delayed or postponed. To reverse it, a passerby must spit, and drivers must make short crosses on the right side of their windshield. Some even wait till others walk by so that they are saved, while others just bear the brunt of the ‘curse’.