SOME POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS


SOME POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS

Although it is a fashion nowadays to laugh at all popular Superstitions, no country in the world does not have its own superstitions. So long as men do not know everything, so long as there is a mystery around us, there must be room for superstitions. Of course, a backward race is more superstitious. Pakistanis are, we admit, more superstitious than the Europeans, and nearly as superstitious as the Chinese.

In Indo-Pakistan, there are several kinds 'Of popular superstitions. Some Of them are associated with journeys. Others are "ominous' and are supposed to indicate impending misfortune. There are yet, others who are supposed to be 'lucky.' The widespread belief in ghosts and evil spirits in Pakistani villages forms a class by itself and is found in others. countries too. Only the Pakistani ghosts have their Pakistani ways!

When a Pakistani villager is leaving his home for a journey, if somebody sneezes behind him or calls him back, it is supposed to be a bad omen. He must stop for a while, to make the 'ill luck' pass. And if he sees a broom Oran empty pot right in front of the house, it is again ominous, the story of Rama Chandra seeing a snake on the left-hand side and a jackal on the right-hand side, while he was coming back to his cottage in the forest, is well-known. Those signs clearly told him that some misfortune must have befallen Sita. The sight of a corpse or of a full pitcher is supposed to be auspicious while one is on a journey.  

In Bengal, there are some subtle variations. The sight of a jackal on the left-hand side is bad, but not if the jackal turns back to look at you. That is even better than the sight of a jackal on the right-hand side! An empty pitcher is a bad sign, but not if somebody is carrying the pitcher to fill it! Certain popular verses are setting forth these rules governing the popular superstition in Bengal, and villagers memorize them carefully.

In Pakistan and South India, the sight of a black cat crossing the street in front of one is supposed to be very inauspicious. In Punjab, the sight of a Brahmin right in the morning is supposed to bring one bad luck. But a Brahmin is not regarded as inauspicious elsewhere. The sight of a cobbler, oilman, or washerwoman brings ill luck to one in the U. P., but not in Punjab. A crow is supposed to be a very wise bird in Indo-Pakistan, it knows all about the future. And if you hear a crow cawing seated on a dry twig you must know that And then our ghosts and genies! Nearly every village in India and Pakistan has its ghosts and genies. And if there are ghosts and genies there are also the ghost and genie experts who know how to deal with them. If a young woman is hysteric she is supposed to be Nam, possessed,' and a ghost or genie expert is sent for. The expert handles the woman rather roughly, and, at times, cures her hysteria to" the great satisfaction of the villagers.

There are also several superstitions about poisonous snakes. In some parts of India, they are worshipped on certain days. are experts who we are told, can save a man even when he is bitten by a cobra. And as many snakes are non-poisonous, and as every snake that bites you must not be a cobra, it is no wonder that the experts are at times successful.

It is not surprising that some of the English superstitions should be similar to certain Indo-Pakistani superstitions. Both in England and the subcontinent the howling of a dog at night when there is no apparent cause for it is supposed to indicate the presence of a spirit nearby. Then, in the remote villages of England and Wales people still believe in witches, as they believe in witches in Pakistani villages.

When one comes to think of it, Pakistanis seem to be ruled more by their superstitions than by their religions of which they make so much. It is not a healthy sign at all. Faith in the higher reality is one thing, but superstition is something entirely different. It is time we learn to cultivate the one and avoid the other.


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