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Md. Mosharaf Bhuiayan
11/9/00 8:30 PM
Emerged in Superstition
In the middle of the night often my mother cries out, "Oh God! The dog is whining in the middle of the night; this is inauspicious. Something terrible is coming! Riaz, go feed the dog." She is surrounded by all those superstitious beliefs. She even has book named Fazilatnama or Virtuous Obligation about all those superstitions, like what brings luck and what brings adversity. I am however a very rational person. I tend to believe in reason more than feeling, but I also happen to be superstitious- in my fashion and my culture. My superstitions are those that my mother conveyed to me, which are probably passed into her by her mother. Also the country Bangladesh, in which, I have grown most of my youth is full of superstitious beliefs. So superstitions are passed in the same way as my native language and my culture passed to me. Some examples of common everyday superstitions of my culture are the belief that if your palm itches, you will obtain money; that if your sole itches, you may travel; that if your right eyelash throbbed, you will face happiness. And the most common in all over the world as well as in my country is the belief that the number 13 is unlucky, and that a black cat crossing your path can affect your luck.
According to The Little Oxford Dictionary, superstition is "belief in the existence or power of the supernatural; irrational fear of the unknown; a religion or practice based on such tendencies; widely hold out but wrong idea." Now why do believe in something that has no logical explanation and according to science, which is completely wrong? We can find the answer in the definition of superstition. Though there is no rational explanation, we believe or obey those superstitions because we are afraid of the consequence of not obeying those rules. For example, my mother used to make me feed the dog in the middle of the night to save me from that "unknown but something evil," because my mother believes that a dog can sense this evil and feeding the dog is also one way of offering food to that evil. The evil will release me because I offered him food. Also this is a belief that everyone else believes. Now it may be wrong, preposterous, but all the other people think its right and you believe it too. For example, in my country everybody believes that it is inauspicious to travel on an amaavasyaa or New Moon day. On a New Moon day, it is believed that all the demons of the universe walk on the earth and collision with one of them could bring something ominous or harmful. So, that is why my mother would not let me go out at that night because she wants to save me from that "unknown but harmful demon."
On the other hand, Science is the knowledge of the physical world and its phenomenon, which depends on testing facts and systematic experimentations. My country may be full of superstitions, but many of them can be debunked through logical and scientific experimentation. For example, my mother believes that a dog whines in the middle of the night because it can see all the harmful demons around him. She also believes that on the amaavasyaa or new Moon day all the demons walk around the earth. So during amaavasyaa our dog should whine all night long because he can see those demons (if there any) around him. However during some of the amaavasya I did not even see him whining at all. So the dog only whines when he is hungry and only food can make him stop whining in the middle of the night. Now the widespread belief that it is inauspicious to travel on an amaavasyaa can be proved wrong through logical explanation. This superstition must have evolved before the advent of electricity. It would have been problematic to be stuck at night on a lonely road and plundered by lurking thieves with no moonlight to light up the way. So at that time when there was no electricity, people made superstitions in order to save their friends and relatives from actual thieves.
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Folklore, Luck, Superstitions, Magic, Superstition, Epistemology, Belief, Evil eye, Black cat
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