Sabrina F Ahmad
has them, even the hard-core cynics and skeptics, whether they admit
it or not. Ask even the most rational-minded person, and if he's truthful,
he'll admit to being superstitious about at least one aspect of his
life. It's human nature.
Each society has
its own superstitions. Like the old English custom of throwing a shoe
after a departing person for good luck. Some of them have given birth
to rituals that gradually incorporated themselves in the culture and
religion of that society like the Hindu custom of breaking a coconut
during inauguration ceremonies, for example. Or the rituals of Halloween.
Similarly, we Bengalis also have our fair share of superstitions.
of these superstitions have been explained and incorporated into religious
practices, and most of them have found their places in our folklore
and literature. Now, the folklore of Bangladesh is heavily influenced
by the different races, which were present years ago. The abundant
folklore of present-day Bangladesh, therefore, contains a variety
of elements, which is partly to be explained by the historical forces.
From the Mauryas, Guptas and Senas in the 3rd century, to the Mughals
in the 12th century, till the British Raj, which lasted till the mid-20th
century, we've had quite a lot of long-term houseguests, whose cultures
and beliefs became intertwined with our own. In other words, we've
got a rich variety of superstitions with interesting histories of
their own. Let's look at a couple of funny ones:
dropped spoon: A dropped spoon is a sign of visitors on the
way. Hmm…I wonder if restaurants could increase their business by
dropping more spoons to bring the customers running in?
house-keys: I think this is a superstition borrowed from
the Hindu culture…it is said that the 'laxmi' of the house leaves
if you jangle the house keys…meaning that bad luck follows whoever
shakes the house keys.
overturned shoe: This is said to invite disputes within the
house. This is a development from the joint families of the past.
A young boy left a sandal lying overturned near the threshold of the
house. His boro chachi, coming in, tripped over it. Spying the shoe,
she gave the kid a sound thrashing, which angered the boy's mother,
who took up the matter with her husband. Hubby dearest applied to
his elder brother, and the whole thing blew up into a huge family
hungama that almost led to a division in the family. Sheesh! Let's
just stick to the safe side and put our shoes away in the proper place,
fruits: You know how you sometimes have fruits like grapes,
and oranges, which are sometimes joined together, quite in the manner
of Siamese twins. Well, there is a superstition amongst women that
if a fertile young woman eats them, she will give birth to Siamese
Don't leave the
table in the middle of a meal. As well as being bad manners, it is
said to be unlucky as it leads to marital disputes. Considering how
many times I've had to leave the table in order to answer the phone
or fetch something, I'd have been very paranoid were I a believer
of this superstition.
A trip and tumble
is never really just a trip and tumble. If you believe in this superstition,
then you'll know it is a warning of some kind. The correct procedure
to follow is to sit down for a few minutes before getting up. That
makes sense, especially since that should give you enough time to
determine whether you've been hurt in the fall.
Ask not for whom
the jackdaw crows: A jackdaw is a large black bird, akin to the raven,
bigger brother to the crow. It is said that a crowing jackdaw is the
sign of impending death in the family.
someone's outstretched legs. Common sense tells you you're risking
an injury, but superstition has bad news for both parties. It is said
that the 'jumper' will get boils on his bottom, and the 'jumpee' will
suffer stunted growth.
are many others that have profound effect on the lives of traditional
people. These are just a few of the harmless, funny ones. While you
ponder on them, I'm off to check to see if I left any upturned shoes
How To Keep Them
IT'S New Year,
the dawn of another fresh start. What better way to mark the occasion
than by making bold promises to yourself? Because it's a major transitional
time, New Year's provides a convenient occasion to take stock of your
life. Millions of people make resolutions. How many of us truly possess
the will and determination to stick to them? For what is the use of
resolutions if they are only made, but not kept. Here are ten serious
ways to help to make and keep resolutions:
1) Write down
both your resolution and your plan. Use clear and concise language.
A well laid-out plan will help to ensure success.
2) Use positive
language. The way you talk to yourself really affects your ability
to attain your goals. Try to develop a "can-do" attitude.
3) Set resolutions
that are realistic and based on your personal history. Learn from
your failures. If you want to exercise five days a week and you haven't
done it in the past, vow to work out twice a week.
4) Set interim
goals. You can't lose 100 pounds or get a Ph.D. overnight. Evaluate
whether or not you have the skills to attain the goal of your resolution.
If they seem wary, drop it and think of a more achievable one.
5) Keep track
of your progress periodically.
6) Lose the excuses.
Don't say: "It's too late in the year to boost my grades."
Instead, affirm: "Late is better than never. I'll beat the crap
out of the first boy."
7) Get support.
Reach out to your family, friends or a group of people who can encourage
you if your resolve weakens.
8) Develop coping
strategies. Learn how to deal with problems that come up. Make minor
adjustments in your list if it helps from dropping most resolutions
9) Celebrate your
"successes" and rebound from your "failures."
Take credit for success when you achieve a resolution. If you fail
don't blame yourself; just see how you can do better next time.
10) Remember to
keep a special point in your resolution to do the thing you like best,
if not once a week, than once a month. Happiness is the viaduct to
you all make a success out of the coming year. This time before making
a resolution, think twice.
a New Year draws near (rhyme not intended), people turn berserk about
how they would spend the 31st night, and what new resolutions they
will make. (Ok fine! No one goes berserk about his or her resolutions.
It is just that, well, they give some thought to them). Some resolve
to be better persons, some better students, while some want to be
better Muslims saying their prayers five times every day. These resolutions
are meant for the rest of the year, or even for the rest of one's
life. But it mostly turns out that they are kept for the first day
When someone makes
a New Year's resolution and proudly announces it to a friend or anyone
of the sort, that friend usually bothers to ask if the resolution
has been kept on the 1st of January only. Almost everyone does keep
his or her resolution on the 1st. The next day, everything is forgotten…
the resolution, the determination, the willingness to change oneself.
There were two
sisters I heard of, who used to quarrel with each other over petty
issues day and night. At the beginning of one such New Year, they
resolved to stop arguing and fighting and live a nice, quarrel-free
life. On the 1st of January, they controlled themselves and refrained
from having a single fight throughout the day, their comfort being
that they would pour out all that they refrained from saying (that
day) on the next day. Sure enough, they were back to their old selves
from the very next day, shouting and screaming at the top of their
lungs at each other. It is certainly difficult, if not impossible,
to change one's old habits!
of mine resolved to say her Magrib prayers everyday. (Saying five
prayers daily, all of a sudden, would definitely be difficult. It
is easier to get started like this, with a single prayer, and then
slowly moving on with a second, third, fourth, and lastly the fifth
prayer). After a week, all was forgotten, and prayers, once again,
This 'making of
a resolution' must have started from some culture, and it soon expanded
and now, in almost all countries, people make resolutions on New Year's
eve, only to break it a few days later. It is sort of a fad… or so
it seems. If a person knows that there is something he or she needs
to change about himself or herself, they should try to do it right
away, and not wait for a New Year's eve to make that resolution. (Yes,
there are people who do this).
of resolutions is, of course, not a bad thing. It is just that resolutions
should not be kept to be broken. Breaking a resolution is like breaking
a promise to oneself, which means that you are not being true to yourself
(!). So make resolutions to keep them, not just for the sake of making
them. Anyway, a Happy New Year to everyone!