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Superstition or logic? Why you shouldn't walk under a ladder!

Last updated on: April 11, 2014 21:57 IST

Superstition or logic? Why you shouldn't walk under a ladder!

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We explain to you the science (and sometimes plain logic) behind some of the most popular superstitions.

Every country has its set of superstitions that are blindly followed and passed on to the next generation.

In fact, there is no scientific data that explains how a black cat crossing your path brings bad luck; unless of course, it carelessly appeared in the middle of a busy road and caused you an accident.

Most superstitions date back to a time when every word of advice was followed by punitive action -- mostly to do with luck, prosperity and good fortune.

But do superstitions have logic?

Is there a reason why they have been so devoutly followed down the ages?

Let's find out, shall we?

The superstition: Applying rangoli in the front yard brings good luck

The logic

In the olden days, rangolis was made from powdered rice.

It attracted ants and birds outside the house, rather than inside.

The huge and pattern of the rangoli ensured that the insects did not wander outside the pattern.

This was particularly endorsed during festivals so that ants and birds were discouraged from entering the house or kitchen where there would be plenty of sweets and food items.

Makes sense? :-)

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Image: What's the logic behind the traditional Indian rangoli?
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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Walking under a ladder can bring you bad luck

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The superstition: Walking under a ladder can bring you bad luck

The logic

Walking under a ladder may or may not bring bad luck but it most certainly is an invitation for accidents.

Besides, it beats us why you would want to walk from under a ladder when you could simply walk around it!

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Image: Why are you advised against walking under a ladder?
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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Cutting nails, combing hair after dusk will make you sick

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The superstition: Cutting nails, combing hair after dusk will make you sick.

The logic

People were advised against cutting nails after dusk because there was a good chance that someone would step on it and hurt themselves.

Similarly, strands of fallen hair could easily make their way into food, which traditionally is eaten sitting on the floor in India.

Of course, with the invention of electricity and changing times, the logic does not hold true any more.

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Image: If hair strands landed in your food it could make you ill.
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
Tags: India

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Sweeping your house after dusk will sweep away good luck

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The superstition: Sweeping your house after dusk will sweep away good luck.

The logic

Have you ever tried to sweep your floor when there's a power failure?

Try it! You'll know the origins of this superstition :-)

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Image: In the absence of light, there is a possibility of you sweeping away precious and important things as well.
Photographs: Parth Sanyal/Reuters
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Breaking a mirror will bring you seven years of bad luck

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The superstition: Breaking a mirror will bring you seven years of bad luck

The logic

The mirror, like many early inventions, was invented accidentally.

When primitive humans blocked a piece of glass with a metal, they discovered they could see their reflection in it.

The mirror was considered rare and precious because the figure in it could move -- a phenomenon that both perplexed and connected them to the object.

Soon, people began to associate the reflection as a part of them and their soul because they’d spend a lot of time staring at it.

So if a mirror broke they’d be very disappointed sometimes believing that a part of their soul had parted with it.

They'd be emotionally low over the loss and eventually fall sick, which led to people believing that a broken mirror brought them bad luck.

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Image: People associate the mirror with their soul.
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
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Opening an umbrella inside the house invites bad luck

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The superstition: Opening an umbrella inside the house invites bad luck.

The logic

If you gave it some thought you'd realise that opening an umbrella inside a house can be more hazardous and unlucky.

You could topple a curio, break a glass or worse hurt someone else.

So before you hit the button on your umbrella handle the next time, think safety more than bad luck.

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Image: You could hurt someone while opening or shutting the umbrella.
Photographs: Toby Melville / Reuters
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Don't pluck leaves or go near trees after dusk

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The superstition: Don't pluck leaves or go near trees after dusk

The logic

Botany 101 will tell you that while plants 'breathe in' carbon dioxide and 'breathe out' oxygen during the day, in the nights the process is reversed.

If you're sitting under a tree or plucking flowers from a plant, there are good chances you’d be breathing that CO2!

The other less scientific reason is that trees are often an abode for insects and reptiles.

Fancy yourself being bitten by the snake? Head to the nearest tree in the dark!

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Image: Plucking flowers after dusk could be risky -- you could be bitten by a snake or stung by a poisonous insect.
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff.com
Tags: CO2

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Fasting rids you of evil and appeases the Gods

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The superstition: Fasting rids you of evil and appeases the Gods

The logic

Fasting may or may not please the gods you believe in but it does help your body detoxify.

Think of it, fasting across religions happens around the time of a seasonal change.

So while fasting may or may not necessarily better your career prospects, it most certainly helps your body cope with the change in the diet that invariably changes with the seasons.

With that we round off our superstitions-busting list!

Do you, dear readers, happen to know of the logic behind more superstitions like these?

Share your knowledge with your fellow readers and post your superstitions-busting facts on ZaraBol.

Post your responses by clicking #superstitions http://zarabol.rediff.com/#!superstitions/9373137

Let us bust superstitions together!


Image: Fasting between seasons helps you detoxify and switch over to a new diet.
Photographs: Rediff Archives
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