Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cobwebs, Cobras and Luck

The other day, the main door of our house happened to be closed for an unusually long time in the evening. I happened to be the first one to open the door, and walked straight into a cobweb. I "Ewww!"ed and went hastily inside, wiping my face and neck. My Mother-in-law saw this and said "You know, walking into cobwebs is supposed to be very lucky". I felt a little better. (No, cobwebs are not common in our house :D)

But that got me thinking. I am not aware if this happens in other cultures also, but some very unpleasant things are regarded as lucky in India. Take, for example, the sighting of a cobra with its hood raised. That is supposed to be a very good thing to happen to somebody. Of course, I assume that this works only if the person keeps his/her head and walks away from it and not towards it, in reach of its fangs! There are loads of other such superstitions(?) about not-so-pleasant things, like squint-eyes and wisdom teeth growing at awkward angles.

I wonder what the reason is, behind this. I can think of one explanation. It is probably just a way to make a person feel better about an unpleasant experience. Imagine what it would do to the morale of the squint-eyed person if someone referred to him as, you know, the lucky one! Suppose somebody is shaken because of his encounter with a cobra, what is a better way to console him than to say "You know, you're really lucky!"?

That said, what is luck? We wish others luck before exams and before weddings. We carry lucky pens that hardly write and wear lucky dresses that are ragged. And at home, I am not allowed to watch any cricket match when India is playing, because that's supposed to be bad luck for the Indian team. I really wonder how much more presumptuous we can get, thinking that one person watching or not watching India play can influence their victory or defeat.

Is it a good idea to make Team India visit the Snake Park before their upcoming match against Australia? :))

8 comments:

Bhel Puri & Seekh Kabab said...

I think the formal term for this behavior is *magical thinking*
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking

I used to pray for Indian team victories too. Never made a difference :-(

BPSK

Aram said...

According to today's newspapers the D.Ghoda's party has said that this is pitrapaksha and not good for transfer of power.

See how these beliefs come in so handy.

Aram said...

@ Bhel:

Your comment, "I used to pray for Indian team victories too" triggered the following question in me.

Why do we identify/associate ourselves so? If it were Indian Ranji trophy matches, we would identify ourselves with and cheer for the Karnataka team, and so on and so forth.

Even within our own extended family, we would compare our own kids with their cousins - kids of our own siblings or cousins and feel happy if our kids score more than other kids in the family.

Why?

Bhel Puri & Seekh Kabab said...

We want to win, even if vicariously. Just your/our competitive nature at display here.

BPSK

parijata said...

@BPSK,
Thanks. That article was very good.
@Aram,
The lesser said about D.Ghoda, the better. We have to face President's rule (ayyayyo!) or elections because of thes jokers.

About competition, you echo my thoughts. This was exactly what I was thinking about, today. This is from an older post of mine
"We always find the *necessity* to be better than our peers, to own bigger houses and faster cars and try to make our kids do better than theirs. Is it good? Is it bad?"

December Stud said...

I am very interested to find out more about "wisdom tooth growing at awkward angles". Do you know what luck that would bring? ;)

Aram said...

@PARIJATA:
maybe that is why ancient wisdom advocates shedding of mamakaara.
@DS:
If the wisdom tooth growing at awkward angle is due to genetic factor, it would bring the same luck as it did to one's forebears

shark said...

he..he.. regarding cricket, we had banned our mom from listening to the radio for cricket commentary which was considered bad luck ;-)