Thursday, August 11, 2022

The People


In earlier times, people believed in omens and charms. They were very prone to superstitions. Some of these superstitions still influence the behaviour of many. For instance, they believe that the crow and the black duck must pass on one's right, the snake on the left. If a mantis is to the right, one will recoup his loss. A mantis is called the horse or crow of Ram, it is always auspicious specially during Dussera. If a man wishes to build a house and the first stroke of the spade turns up charcoal, he will change the site. Iron is a sovereign safeguard against the evil eye. Owls portend desolate homes, black things in general are bad omens.

Charms are in common use. The leaves of the Siras and the mango are powerful especially those of the Siras. They are hung up in garlands with a mystic inscription on an earthen platter in the middle and the whole is called Totka. The jand is another very sacred tree. In illness it is a good thing to have an inscription made on an earthen vessel by a fakir and to wash it off and drink the water.

Superstitions are innumerable. Odd numbers are lucky, but three and thirteen are unlucky. If a man with two wives wants to marry a third, he will first marry a tree, so that the new wife may be the fourth. Hindus consider the south a quarter to be avoided, for the spirits of the dead are supposed to live there. To sneeze is auspicious, it indicates that you will not die for some time more. A bania (shopkeeper) will not make the first transaction of the day on credit. It must be paid in cash and it is called bohni. It is inauspicious to confront a Brahman, who has no tilak mark in his forehead. On Mondays and Saturdays people do not go to the east. The evil spirit 'Dasa Sul' resides in that direction on these days. On Sundays and Thursdays people do not go to the west. A women carrying a child or a pitcher is a happy omen.Two pitchers are happier still. A she-buffalo which tries to loosen a peg by striking it with her head is considered inauspicious. The one that makes its tighter and faster by striking down upon it, is regarded as auspicious. A bullock which shakes its head is also considered inauspicious.

A cow that calves in Bhadon and a she-buffalo that calves in Magh are considered inauspicious. If a mare foals in Sawan in the day time, it is inauspicious and pun, offering of alms is the remedy. If a crop has grown exceedingly well, a black pot or tattered shoe is suspended on a pole in the field. This is to avert the evil eye. Three men together will not start on a journey. If they have to do so, two will go first, the third joining them later. They will start after eating some gur (jaggery), laddu (sweet gram flour balls) or dahi (curd). A house with a broad front and narrow back is considered inauspicious. The reverse is auspicious. Hell and heaven on earth are described tersely: small cereals such as china-dhan to eat, goat or sheep as wealth, a shrew for a wife, dirty clothes - these are four signs of hell. The reverse of this is : a cart to load, a she-buffalo for property, a woman of good family and a mare to ride: these are the signs of heaven.