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The Problem of Superstition and Its Abolition in India

Superstition is seen as a pervasive social problem in India. Superstition is the term for any practice or idea that rejects the findings of modern science and is explained by supernatural explanations. While some people may view some habits and beliefs as superstitious, others may not. When taking into account the views of the general public and scientists, the gap between what is considered superstitious and what is not is even wider.

Though there may be differences of opinion on some topics, this page lists Indian beliefs or practices that have been labeled as superstitions or pseudoscience. Superstitions are frequently related to illiteracy. It has been reported that some educated people in India practice superstition. The rituals and beliefs differ from one place to the next, and many regions have their own distinctive beliefs.

The customs could be as innocent as lemon-and-chili totems for protection against the evil eye or as grave as witch burning. The adoption of new prohibitory legislation frequently encounters criticism because some of these ideas and behaviors are centuries old and are regarded as being a part of tradition and religion.

Forms of Superstition


The Rahukalam (also known as Rahu Kala) is unlucky every day. Manglik, or Mangal Dosha, is a term used to describe a person born under the influence of Mars. People shy away from getting married to such people, especially if they are women. Marriage to such a person is thought to result in marital strife, divorce, and occasionally even death.

However, it is believed that the effects of two manlike cancel each other out if they get married. Celestial bodies are thought to determine our fate depending on the time of our birth. Astrology is deemed to be pseudoscience by NASA.


  • It’s thought that snakes can consume milk. Snakes are abducted during the Nag Panchami celebration and fed milk against their will. As a result, thousands of snakes perish every year.
  • In some regions, it is thought that seeing a peacock or three lizards going your way is fortunate; however, seeing four or more lizards approaching your way is said to be a harbinger of impending death.
  • Puppy Pregnancy Syndrome is a psychosomatic ailment in humans caused by mass hysteria.
  • If a black cat or simply a cat crosses one’s route, it is viewed as an omen of bad luck. It is far more common in places with poor educational opportunities. People who have this illness think that their abdomens become pregnant with puppies soon after being bitten by a dog.

Luck and Auspiciousness

  • It is auspicious to add one rupee to a present amount; hence, figures like 21, 101, or 501 rupees are seen as more auspicious than, for instance, 20 or 100.
  • There are numerous ways to fend off an “evil eye”. Totems made of lemon and chilly are a popular technique.
  • To prevent the evil eye by making their babies look flawed, mothers apply kohl to their newborns’ faces.
  • In some regions of India, sweeping the floor at night is frowned upon.
  • It is thought that if a cat crosses a person’s path, it will be unlucky.
  • It’s said that sneezing right before starting something brings bad luck.
  • In many regions of Northern India, widows are seen negatively.
  • It’s thought that staring into a broken mirror could be unlucky.
  • People believe that shaving, getting a haircut, or cutting their nails on Tuesday or Saturday will bring bad luck.
  • Shaking your legs is thought to bring ill luck.
  • It is a terrible omen if someone sneezes just before you go on a trip or undertake a significant task.
  • It is thought that if a girl’s left eye twitches, good things will happen whereas if her right eye twitches, negative things will happen. Men experience it exactly the opposite of girls.
  • It is deemed lucky for a person if a lizard falls on their head.
  • A person who has nightmares frequently is not a good indicator.

Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act

Narendra Dabholkar (1945-2013), an anti-superstition campaigner and the founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), first authored the 2013 Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil, and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act in 2003. The law makes it illegal to engage in black magic, sacrifices of human beings, the employment of magical treatments for health issues, and other practices that prey on people’s superstitions.

Over the years, the list of prohibited activities has been steadily cut down. The law resulting from Dabholkar’s death was published on August 26, 2013, and was formally presented during the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in Nagpur in December 2013.

The current bill contains 12 clauses that only make the following actions illegal:

  • assault, torture, forcing someone to eat human waste, forcing someone to do forced sexual acts, branding, etc. under the pretense of releasing a person who is reportedly possessed of ghosts.
  • Making claims about having the power to perform miracles, then using those claims to trick or terrorize people.
  • Engaging in or encouraging behavior that puts lives in danger or results in serious harm in an effort to attain supernatural abilities.
  • Participating in or promoting cruel deeds or the sacrifice of humans in search of a reward or bounty.
  • Giving the impression that someone has supernatural powers and directing others to do what they want.
  • Accusing someone of doing black magic or being a demon incarnation, holding them responsible for their illnesses or bad luck, and bugging them.
  • Claiming that someone is practicing black magic, showing them off naked, and interfering with their activities.
  • Making claims of having the power to summon spirits, intimidating people by threatening to summon ghosts, or giving the appearance of being possessed, preventing the person from getting medical attention, and compelling him or her to commit cruel acts.
  • Forcing someone to consume magic medicines instead of seeking medical attention in the event of a dog, snake, or scorpion bite.

Although advocating human sacrifice has been made a crime under this law, human sacrifice is already regarded as murder in India. Each offense entails a fine between Rs. 5, 000 and Rs. 50, 000 as well as a minimum term of six months and a maximum sentence of seven years. The crimes are both cognizable and non-bailable.

The law mandates the hiring and instruction of vigilance officers, who are responsible for investigating and informing the local police station of these crimes. These officers’ levels must be higher than that of a police inspector.

Criticism and Support

The bill has drawn flak for being anti-religion and anti-Hindu. In response to claims that the measure is anti-religious, Dabholkar stated that it does not reference god or religion and tackles dishonest acts. Manav asserted that the Wakari sect will not find the measure offensive and that it is not against the law for someone to work a miracle.

However, it is illegal to defraud someone while claiming to execute a miracle. The bill was continually watered down over the years due to growing opposition from Hindus and affected castes, according to a sociologist at the University of Pune interviewed by journalist Ellen Barry after Dabholkar’s murder. She stated: “What today stands as the draught legislation is a much mellowed-down position. What constitutes faith and what constitutes blind faith is a tricky topic. It is divided by a vanishingly tiny line”.

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Jyoti Paudel
Jyoti Paudel
Jyoti is a student and a young, aspiring writer whose area of interest is writing on existing social issues to create awareness. Currently, she is pursuing her bachelor from the University of Delhi.

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