Owning a passenger or goods vehicle in India is an emotive issue and so it is obvious that certain deep sentiments, feelings and emotions will remain attached to it. I too am no exception to the same.
In this article, we shall delve into the various Superstitions associated with Vehicles. Be is the so-called scientifically advance West, the oriental East or our own India, no matter where you belong to, you will be bound by certain beliefs when it comes to car.
One of my earliest memories pertaining to travel was the condition laid down by my devout Mom, that no Egg should be consumed either before the journey or carried along.
When my inquisitive mind tried to explore the reason for being denied the mouthwatering masala omelette at the Railway Canteen or the roadside Tea Stall, I learnt that my Dad who was in the Cash and Pay Dept. of the South Eastern Railway, had once met with an accident while travelling in a push trolley on the way to Araku.
During the not accident, which could have been life-threatening, one of my Dad’s co-passengers, landed beside the track face down with a boiled egg from his tiffin box perched on his back.
The reason for narrating this story is to explain how superstitions come into existence most of the times. They are mostly the result of an event or incident which has happened to someone and was assumed to have been caused by a certain anomaly.
This over a period of time results in the thought taking the shape of a superstition. At times the source of the superstition can be found embedded in mythology or ancient practices which may or may not be scientific.
Black Cat crossing the Road
Of the most of Driving or Travel Superstitions which all of us have grown up with is regarding a black cat crossing the road bringing bad luck. This superstition which originated from Japan probably stems from the belief that black cats are associated with Witches and so they are bound to bring bad luck. Some suggest that to counter the impact of the same, one should turn counter-clockwise over and over again or sprinkle salt.+
Hanging Lemons and Chillies
This belief is rooted in the ancient past when the mode of communication was on foot using unpaved pathways. Often travellers would get dehydrated or fall victim to snake bite. In the former case the juice of the lemon provided relief while in case of the later, snakebite victims were made to taste chillies to ascertain whether they had sensation in their tongues, the absence of which was attributed to a poisonous snake. Over the ages, this combination of Lemon and Chillies got attributed to warding off evil while travelling. Another theory goes that when the string passes through the lemon and chilli, both rich sources of Vitamin C, it absorbs the nutrients which evaporate and freshen up the inside of the vehicle.
Driving New Vehicles over Lemon
Recently on display during the handing over of the Raphael, this practice comes with the belief that the lemon because of its bitter-sweet taste will keep the machinery free from evil and bitterness. Lemon is also believed to negate evil influences and in turn, ensure the safety of the passengers.
Worship of machinery or tools is also attributed to an episode in the Mahabharata where on Vijayadashami, Arjuna retrieved his weapons from a hole in the Shami tree where they had been hidden before the Pandavas proceeded on exile. In India, tools have traditionally been revered as Ayudha Puja or worship of farming implements, construction equipment or writing tools.
I recall an instance that occurred in 2011 when moments before we were to begin our first road trip to Kolkata from Hazaribagh, a pebble dislodged by a truck tyre left a crack on the windscreen. Quite a few neighbours suggested that it is an ominous sign and that we should abandon the journey. Fortunately, we didn’t pay heed and returned safely from a wonderful 5-day trip.
Broken mirrors have traditionally been considered inauspicious. It is believed that looking into a broken mirror fetches bad luck and reduces the life span of the person looking into it. As such driving a vehicle with a cracked windshield or window is a strict ‘No’.
Tying Black Threads or Cloth to the Undercarriage
The black, thick threads or cloth that we see hanging behind cars or attached to the exhausts are referred to as Guth’s (pleated ponytails). Being black they are said to ward off evil intentions of enemies or absorb the negative influences which in turn will protect your vehicle.
The purpose of this article was not to find fault with superstitions but to understand why they are there in the first place. As is evident, superstitions have a lot to do with pride of possession and the urge to protect that which is valuable to you. Since vehicles go out into the open or are exposed to the neighbouring eyes, there is always a need felt to protect them from negative influences and evil eyes.
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