Essay On Superstitions In Pakistan Best
We collected Pakistani superstitions from various Pakistani students on campus to better understand Pakistani culture and hopefully find parallels to the superstitions common in American culture. Our informants were undergraduate Pakistani students at Dartmouth College who were predominantly born in Pakistan and spent a majority of their life there. They all agreed that superstitions played a large role in Pakistani culture, and some offered interesting insights into how belief in superstitions differs among social classes as a result of education. We asked our informants to share information about themselves and their background, and then discuss any superstitions that they experience that were distinctly Pakistani, i.e their parents told them about these superstitions or they were commonly believed in Pakistan. It is interesting to note that while our informants came from a variety of places in Pakistan, rural and urban, they shared a lot of the same superstitions, and these superstitions shared common themes and parallels to american society. By looking through the superstitions we collected, you will appreciate the prevalence of superstition in Pakistani culture and, hopefully, be surprised at how similar these superstitions are to the folklore you have heard in your own life.
HOW many times have you been afraid of a black cat crossing the road in front of you? Why is
Friday the 13th considered unlucky or scary? Why are people afraid of the “evil eye”? The list of superstitions is endless and quite surprisingly, though the origin of these beliefs go back hundreds or thousands of years, some people still get quite freaked-out by their occurrence even in modern times.
Today we shall look into a few of the most common ones and also examine the psychological aspect of superstitions according to some experts.
Every mystery has a beginning and an end. The end is the most important part because it is what we make of an unknown incident that stirs up interest. To put it in simpler terms, what we do not know or understand keeps us guessing and gets scarier as our imagination paints a darker picture. But how much do we know about these superstitions or old wives’ tales as they are referred to? What is the history and how did they become such strong beliefs? The answer is in humanity itself; most of the times we create our own problems, which leave lingering effects on society.
Friday the 13th is considered the most unlucky day or number. Surprisingly, Western societies, which are considered the most advanced, are most affected by it. There are hotels which do not have a 13th floor or a room number 13. If they do, you will most likely find it empty. It is said that most skyscrapers, almost 80 per cent do not have a 13th floor. Add to that a Friday that falls on the 13th of any month and some people will get all fussy about setting a wedding date or starting anything new. How did it all start? History has some answers, so let’s look into them.
The number 13 has its roots in Biblical times. It is believed that at the Last Supper, it was the 13th apostle who betrayed Jesus. In Rome, there are stories about witches practicing black magic, by making groups of 12 for their evil rituals and the 13 member was supposed to be the devil. The number 13 falling on a Friday was once set by the British to carry out capital punishment (public hangings) for criminals and there were 13 steps that the prisoner had to climb to reach the gallows.
Additionally, astrologists think that 12 is a whole number and historically, 12 has always been an accepted and sacred number even as far as religious and ancient beliefs are concerned. For example, there are 12 months in a year. There were 12 tribes of Moses, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 Labours of Hercules, 12 faithful apostles of Jesus and 12 so-called gods on Mount Olympus. So, by adding one number, well, it kind of upsets the apple cart!
Now we come to black cats. In ancient Egypt and other cultures, cats were considered sacred animals and even worshipped. According to a belief, a black cat was always a witch’s companion and was used to cast spells on people. In addition, it was said that an evil spirit could enter the body of a black cat or dog. So if a cat is black and is carrying an evil load, and crosses your path, it’s probably like telling you to keep away. At least that’s what I make of it.
Another interesting and popular superstition is about mirrors. If you break a mirror, it will bring you seven years of bad luck. The superstition behind this incident is that a mirror is not only a reflection of our body but also reflects our soul. So if it is broken, it means a broken spirit, which is weakened and is easily exposed to negative influences and can invite calamities. Thinking logically, a broken mirror has tiny pieces that can get into tiny corners and crevices and even after being cleaned, might remain there and hurt someone. So maybe someone just came up with this tale so that people would be more careful with mirrors.
And then we have the umbrella superstition. How many of you have heard that opening an umbrella indoors brings bad luck? It is an ancient belief that umbrellas were supposed to ward off any evil from an enemy or supernatural forces; which is the reason why kings and queens had their servants or slaves hold umbrellas over their heads. They were decorated and made with symbols and markings for protection and were not meant to prevent one from getting wet during rainy weather. In fact it was used as a protection from the Sun.
Then in England, umbrellas became the opening and folding ones with iron rods and it was awkward to open an umbrella inside the house, not to mention hitting a favourite vase or another person with it. The unlucky part was dedicated to the fact that since it was originally meant to ward off evil, by opening it indoors, one would bring the evil from outside into the house!
Why are human beings so superstitious? There has been quite an in-depth study into the matter.
In an article written in the Inside Science News Service, supported by the American Institute of Physics, experts say that the fear of the unknown or not having enough knowledge regarding the outcome of any situation leads us to do stuff that might not make any sense, but is kind of a reassurance that we are in control in a small way. If by knocking on wood, we feel comforted that things might go our way, we might do it even though the belief is ancient and does not make sense to many.
But what harm is there in taking the next lane when a menacing looking black cat crosses the path, never mind if all the poor animal was doing was trying to get to the other side of the road, probably a short-cut to the nearest butcher for some leftovers!