From not letting us wash our hair on a certain days to not letting us can’t our nails after dark, our parents and grandparents have annoyed us with lots of superstitions. These are often accompanied by “because I said so..” but clearly that’s not enough. So, if these bizarre rules have riled you up too, then read on to find out the possible origin stories behind them.
1. No haircuts on Tuesdays.
In the olden days, the primary occupation for men was farming and unlike us, they had only Monday’s off. Naturally, most of them used to clean their houses and cut their hair on Monday. As an unsaid rule, Tuesday became the holiday for the barber giving him some rest after a tiring Monday. So that’s why people were advised to avoid haircuts on Tuesday. Over the years, though men started indulging in other professions, the belief still continues.
2. Hanging a lemon and 7 chillies outside shops.
The story goes that the Goddess of misfortune (yes, even misfortune has a Goddess and her name is Alakshmi) loves pungent, sour and hot things. That’s why lemon and chillies do the trick by satisfying her hunger and keeping her away. But if you are not into stories and prefer science, then you would be interested in knowing that this lemon and chilli combo is also known to act as a simple pesticide which keeps pets and insects away.
3. Breaking a mirror brings 7 years of bad luck.
The explanation behind this one is a bit spooky. In ancient Rome it was believed that the reflection in the mirror showed the soul of the person. So if a weak or unwell man looked into the mirror, the mirror would break on its own. They also believed that it took 7 years for a life to re-new itself and hence the evils of broken mirror would take 7 years to go away. However, the logical explanation says that mirrors were extremely expensive in olden days so to ensure that they are being handled well, the Romans came up with this story.
4. Cutting nails after dark.
Though our grandparents are convinced that cutting nails after dark would attract evil spirits, this one has a pretty logical origin story. Since our ancestors did not have the luxury of a lit up room by the flip of a switch, they were advised not to cut nails or hair after dark to avoid injuries during the process.
5. Take a bath after attending a funeral.
The superstition goes that taking a bath after attending a funeral will ward off evil spirits. But the fact is that anything dead starts to decompose, and that means human bodies too. So, this bath is simply going to keep the germs away and boy, are they evil!
6. Throw coins in holy rivers.
However absurd it sounds, the story behind it actually makes sense. In the olden days, coins were primarily made of copper and the primary source of drinking water used to be rivers. So putting a copper coin not only helped kill the bacterias but also added to its qualities making it more beneficial to anyone who drank it.
7. Cat crossing your path brings bad luck
This one dates back to the days when people used to travel by carts pulled by domesticated animals. And while travelling through forests at night, the domesticated animals would get rattled by looking at big jungle cats. That’s why they advised each other to avoid travelling if a jungle cat crossed their path. Over the years though the jungle cat got confused with domestic cat and the superstition still continues.
8. Do not sweep after dark.
This one again goes back to the days of no electricity. People were advised to not sweep after dark in order to avoid losing an important document or jewellery that might get swept away.
9. Crows represent our ancestors
The legend goes that once Jayant, the son of God Indra, disguised in the form of crow and hurt Sita. Angry Lord Ram took hay and used it as an arrow and parted one of Jayant’s eyes. After realising his mistake, Jayant asked for Lord Ram’s forgiveness. Lord Ram, forgave him and blessed him saying that if food is offered to the crows it will reach our ancestors.
Quite the stories, right?