i overheard an unusual comment at the departmental store yesterday. a mother a daughter were buying provisions, when the daughter asked for a particular brand of talcum powder. the mother immediately stopped her and in hushed tones asked her to return it. the reason given was that women using that particular brand had their wedding-day ruined (as per the commercial). the daughter was firm about her choice and made her purchase. the mother could not hide her superstitions but thankfully she did not make them public too loudly. it might have had an adverse effect on the brand because i am sure there are more like her who would lap up the excuse.

what surprises me is that people tend to qualify people and commdoties according to their luck-factor. one of the most common of such instances is the way new-brides are viewed in the family. if the family business flourishes or the husband is promoted, it is ascribed to the luck-brought in by the “lakshmi”. if some misfortune befalls, that too is blamed upon the girl.

i dont remember the exact chain of events as i had read about this incident a few months back, but i’ll try to recount it. two marriages had taken place on the same day at village somehwere in the west bengal-bihar border. both the grooms were from the same village and so were the brides. after the marriage the respective pairs along with their wedding parties were returning together. unfortunately, while crossing an unmanned level-crossing they were hit by a train and most people including the grooms died. the brides were taken to their in-laws village. after a few days, the family members of the people who lost their lives started tormenting the brides’ in-laws saying that the girls were a curse as they had brought bad luck to the entire village. they asked the girls to be handed over to them to be “dealt with appropriately”. ironically, the in-laws of the brides protected the two girls and helped them escape to safety.

rituals like human-sacrifices, witch-burning and other superstitions and taboos have been a part of our society for a long-time. these are often off-shoots of misinterpreted religious practices. also as the economy has always been predominantly agrarian, people tend to believe in the forces of nature and the influence of one’s destiny. with the growth of urban societies these have been extrapolated to urban interpretations as well. why else would a harmless talcum powder advertisement instigate so much fear in a person.

fate, destiny, luck all are believed to be a part of the human existence and not many can gather the strength to stand up and fight away the mind-games that come with them.

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