In the modern era, the modernists deem Hindu superstitions as outright baseless. However, it still has its roots in the Hindu tradition. Rather than deeming something as “outright baseless”, we must first understand where these superstitions have come from, and why was it used in those eras. One must understand that these superstitions were only the way something was prevented or had some scientific reasons that they could explain it to people in some way.
We’ve already written articles on some science behind Hindu superstitions. Here we discuss few more:
1. Sleeping with the head facing north
There is a common myth: “If you sleep with your head facing north, then your lifespan will shorten.” If you think about it, you will be saying, “This is b****”, right?
But there is actually a good logic behind it. Our body’s north pole, which is the head, and the earth’s north pole, would be in the same direction. Thus, as you know the basic science, like poles repel. So, our body’s magnetic force would be repelling the earth’s north pole. So, this results in stress, headaches, and even cardiovascular diseases. Thus, our ancestors encouraged people to sleep in the Southern direction.
2. The lemon and chili for luck and leaving evil behind
The myth is that lemon and chili were used to remove “Buri Nazar”, or “evil looks”, which has harmful effects on bodies. Actually, lemon and chili contain rich nutrition which was used for propagating the consumptions of these ingredients. But people are still using it in shops to remove the evil away.
3. The broken mirror
The common myth is that: “If you break a mirror, then you will have 7 years of bad luck.” This was actually a scare tactic used in those days. Owning a mirror was actually a privilege in those times because the mirror was an extremely expensive commodity that only a few people could afford. So that people could handle the commodity more carefully, this tactic was used.
4. Women living separately during menstruation
This has been a rising issue in the western world, that women are not allowed to touch anything when they menstruate. But the intention was actually good in those days. They had to travel far to gather water or work in fields. The period days are hard for women, and Hindu tradition had actually acknowledged it. That is why during these days, women were kept separate so that they don’t have to work and can actually rest. One must consider that these were the times when there were no sanitary pads or painkillers. They were not allowed into the kitchen, because it could spill certain things like pickles and jams as they were laid in the ground, and without sanitary pads or anything that preserves the bleeding to drop, you can imagine why the tradition came into being. However, people still consider this to be a negative aspect of superstition in the modern age.
5. Solar eclipse is a bad omen
Going out during the solar eclipse is a bad omen, according to the myth. In fact, there is a science behind this too. During the solar eclipse, the harmful rays transit to earth and can damage the eyes of people, at times, even lead to blindness. And since science wouldn’t have been a proper way to communicate to people in those eras, they communicated that it is a bad omen.
6. Going to Peepal tree after dark is bad
There is a myth that ghosts and evil spirit roam around Peepal tree while visiting after dark, and that they can even take over the human body. In fact, the Hindu ancestors knew about the photosynthesis process well before the westerns did during the 17th century. At night, Peepal tree produces a large amount of carbon dioxide, and inhaling this gas could cause a serious problem, even death, in human beings. As mentioned before, the explaining the science would not have worked with people, so they tried to prohibit them to go to peepal tree at night by claiming it to be a bad sign and worked on the ghost angle.
7. Throwing coins in holy water
The myth for throwing coins in holy water is that it helps to bring good luck and prosperity. This act is not only prevalent in Hindu traditions, but also in the western traditions. The science behind this actually is that during those days coins were made out of copper, and when copper mixes with water, it actually purifies the water so that people could drink it.
8. Taking bath after funeral
The myth is that if you don’t bathe in the river after going to the funeral, then the spirits from the underworld will transfer to your body. The scientific angle behind this is that in Hindu traditions, the bodies are burned, and while burning, one attracts bacteria and other types of infections/diseases such as hepatitis or smallpox as a dead body is a storehouse of various contagious disease. To prevent it, they had to take bathe, and in those days, they could only bathe in the river. This grew into a tradition, and that is why this practice is encouraged.
9. Eating mixture of curd and sugar
Hindus believe that eating a mixture of curd and sugar before starting new work or going for an interview or even going out would bring good luck. That’s the common myth. But in fact, when you are on your first day or going for an interview, you can get stressed and the nervousness can creep in. Curd has the capacity to cool down a person, and with sugar, the curd tastes good. That is why the practice is prevalent.
10. Plastering the floor with cow dung
Before any Hindu rituals or poojas, Hindus plaster the floor with cow dung, with the myth that the cow is the sacred animal, and the cow dung is pious. However, the science is that cow dung is a disinfectant and a repellent for insects. During those times, there were no chemical solutions or powder for it, and the natural way to do it was through cow dungs.
11. Preserving a portion of a baby’s umbilical cord
With the new arrival of a newborn baby, the ritual is to store the part of the umbilical cord in a capsule made of copper. The intention was that it would bring good to the baby and keep him grounded, and it has also been mentioned in Manava Dharmasastra. However, the real reason is that the practice preserves the blood to harvest stem cells, and it is the concept of modern phenomenon known as umbilical blood banking.
12. Eating the tulsi, not just chewing it
Hindus believe that Goddess Laxmi lives in the sacred leaves, and thus, one must never chew tulsi. The science is that if you chew the leaves of Tulsi, the arsenic chemical in the tulsi can cause teeth discoloration and deteriorate the enamel cover of the teeth. But if one swallows it, there are health benefits such as fighting cold and cough, acting as a disinfectant and so on.
13. Cutting nails after sunset
It is a bad omen in Hindu tradition to cut nails after sunset. The tradition wanted to convey that when you cut nails at night, you could injure yourself, and the nails could go anywhere while cutting it and you won’t be aware of it.
14. The snake’s head must be crushed off after killing it
There is an interesting plot on crushing the head of the snake after killing it. The folklore has it that the snake’s eyes reflect its killers, and it can avenge the people in its another life, which is even depicted in many cinemas. The science actually is that the snake’s head can still move, even after it is killed, which means that it can still attack even after it is dead. To avoid such attacks, the head must then be crushed.