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Incredible India: The land of superstitions!

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by Arpit Gupta
India is a country where superstitions are all around. These are prevailing in the so-called “well-educated Indian society” also. Some have their base in religion and religion-related books, some have the base in the old scientific facts and many of them exist with no conceivable reason as such.

However still, Indian culture is very closely associated with these superstitious beliefs which have a great impact on a typical Indian’s livelihood. Here are the most common superstitious beliefs practised in India among almost all the sections of society:

1) The most common belief with no logical proof is that noone should cross a road which a black cat has crossed before. That’s because the person who first crosses the road would get his luck spoiled and would loose everything he/she has.

2) Another one is about the solar eclipses, which says that no one should venture out during the solar eclipse because those contain deadly rays which show the anger of God. Especially pregnant women are kept indoors to avoid any kind of deformity which may arise in the child about to take birth. In fact, some families avoid cooking or eating anything during the eclipse.

3) One of the most disappointing belief is that women during their menstruation cycle are considered impure and unclean. They are not allowed to enter in the kitchen. This might be called as a good thing to be as during menstruation, women loose lot of blood and become weak so they must be kept away from such manual works. But this step seems something done to subordinate the position of women in the society and probably supports the dominance of males.

4) A common belief seen every day in Indian households is the cutting of nails and hair only on particular days of the week. People say that it’s a sin to cut nails and hair on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Moreover, it is also said that nails should not be cut after sunset .

5) In India, “neg” (present) is given on every pleasant occasion. It is believed that the amount of money presented should always end in 1. It is considered auspicious to add 1 rupee in the amount if the money being given as a present. That is why envelopes in India already come with one rupee coin on them.

6) If someone has visited India once, he or she would have noticed the string of lemon and chillies on the doors of the shops, homes, and offices. These are believed to save from the evil eye and bring good luck. It is believed that the Goddess of poverty likes sour and spicy things so these lemon and chillies satisfy her and she doesn’t harm the person who hangs the lemon and chillies (usually 7 in number).

7) Peepal trees are believed to be the abode of ghosts and spirits. Everyone avoids going there at night. Something disastrous is believed to happen if someone goes near peepal tree during night and people say that the person going near the tree is likely to be killed by the ghosts residing in it.

8) A person born under the influence of Mars is called “Manglik”. People avoid marrying such persons as they are believed to cause marital discord and divorce, sometimes even death. However, it is said that if two such persons marry then the effect of the “mangal dosh” gets cancelled and they can live happily.

9) Snakes are believed to drink milk. On the occasion of a festival called Nagpanchami, snakes are captured and forcefully fed milk as it is considered auspicious. Due to this, a large number of snakes die annually in India.

These are some of the common beliefs which are seen in India and can probably be accounted as the reason behind society’s backwardness. People with great degrees of study are somewhere lagging behind due to this reason. This needs to be changed through a gradual process to clear the way of overall growth and development. If you remember some of the superstitions in India, you are most welcome to add up your comments.

Arpit is a undergraduate student pursuing Mechanical Engineering at IIT-Roorkee. His twitter handle is: @Arpit2476667

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  • sudheer naik

    India is an ancient country.As it follows the culture of ancient people which were unpleasant now a days to follow those superstitious.when the India stop this type of superstitious that day will be WELL EDUCATED INDIAN SOCIETY

  • devika todi

    most of the superstitions discussed here apply mainly to Hindus. these beliefs are no longer blindly followed. people have begun to question everything. i, for one don’t care when i cut my nails or if someone is born under the influence of mars.
    also, many superstitions have scientific backing. they had been originally properly thought out and were logical. however, as time passed, these beliefs lost their logic and instead, became in set in stone.

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  • sudheer naik

    India is an ancient country.As it follows the culture of ancient people which were unpleasant now a days to follow those superstitious.when the India stop this type of superstitious that day will be WELL EDUCATED INDIAN SOCIETY

  • devika todi

    most of the superstitions discussed here apply mainly to Hindus. these beliefs are no longer blindly followed. people have begun to question everything. i, for one don’t care when i cut my nails or if someone is born under the influence of mars.
    also, many superstitions have scientific backing. they had been originally properly thought out and were logical. however, as time passed, these beliefs lost their logic and instead, became in set in stone.

Next Story

Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)