Reasoning behind some superstitions in Hinduism
Rituals & Practices

Reasoning behind some superstitions in Hinduism

Please NOTE:  Simply because one may not believe in a particular belief, it doesn’t give them the right to mock or shoot it down.  Just like air or gravity that cannot be seen yet they play a vital part in our very existence, we as humans, are still on the learning curb of many yet uncharted territories in every aspect. 

No matter what part of the world one turns to, there we will find certain native beliefs and superstitions which have been carried down from ages and India is certainly no exception.  Despite being one of the fastest progressive countries in the world, there are many people who are still superstitious and have strong faith in the local beliefs. 

While many superstitions may be considered old fashioned or baseless, some of them once had deeper meaning and scientific reasons, most of the reasoning has been lost with the passage of time.  We take a look at some of these age old practices followed by our ancestors:

swallowing tusli leaves

Swallowing Tulsi leaves

Believed to be a reincarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, Tulsi is considered to be holy and our ancestors believed the leaves should be swallowed and not chewed. 

Science today tells us that the leaves contain a small amount of arsenic which, when chewed, reacts to the alkaline in our mouth and causes discoloration and tooth decay. 

Click here to read about Why Hindus worship Tusli 


Baby ritual to preserve a portion of the umbilical cord

Mānavadharmaāstra, an ancient text speaks of burying the umbilical cord in the fork of a sapling tree or storing it in a copper capsule.  This was believed to be a superstition which helped ground the child.

We now know that the human umbilical cord contains stem cells which have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types.  Perhaps our ancestors had some clue of a science that has been long lost. 


Hanging lemon and seven green chillies outside home or business

We are unable to find a good reasoning behind this totka however the religious take on it is to ward of Jyestha or Alakshmi who is considered inauspicious.  A harbinger of misery and misfortune, she is believed to be the sister of Lakshmi, the Goddess of fortune and prosperity.

Alakshmi has a taste for sour and spicy things and for this reason people hang lemon and chillies outside their property so she can be satiated and not enter within.


sleeping in right direction

Never sleep with your head to the North

Our ancestors probably knew about the relationship between Earth’s magnetism and our own body’s bio-magnetism. 

If the head points north while sleeping, both these energies will repel each other and affect our health in a negative manner. 

Click here to read about Myth of sleeping in the right direction 


Avoid leaving the house during an eclipse

Fear of solar eclipses still exists today and many people around the world see them as evil omens that bring with them disasters and even death.

Observing the sun during a solar eclipse can damage to the eyes and cause retinal burns.  It is most likely why our ancestors refused to go out during this time. 

With the lack of sun rays, the earth is just another place with harmful microbes and germs and it may be the reason why many people throw away food items prepared before the eclipse and do not eat food for the duration of the eclipse. 


Applying Tilak or Bindi on forehead

The tilak or bindi is worn between the eyebrows where the pineal gland lies.  In the past, bindi was made from yellow and red sandalwood, red and yellow turmeric, saffron, various flowers, ash and zinc oxide.  All these have cooling properties by nature.

The Ajna Chakra is considered to be the place of the “Third Eye” where one applies the bindi or tilak.  It is where one finally loses Ahamkara / ego and achieves self-realization or higher level of spirituality.

Click here to read in details about Why we put Tilak or Bindi 



 Menstrual taboo in Hinduism

Earlier, the traditional role of a woman in the house involved arduous and physically demanding tasks such as carrying heavy pots of water, grinding of wheat, daals, rice and masalas, farming duties and so on.  During periods women suffer in varying degrees from discomfort of cramps and headaches to PMS syndrome which includes depression, anger and mood swings.

They were prescribed rest during this time making them exempt from all household chores.  In fact, in orthodox homes in India, men – who otherwise would not lift a finger to help at home actually do the cooking!

Click here to read in details about Menstrual Taboo in Hinduism 


Ringing the Temple Bell

Temple bells are made up of a mixture of various metals including cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, nickel, chromium and manganese.  The proportion at which each one of them is mixed produces a distinct sound that creates unity between the left and the right brain. 

Each ringing lasts for about seven seconds that touch the seven chakras of the body, creating a positive vibration.  The moment the bell is rung, the brain is emptied of all thoughts and you go into a state of trance where you are very receptive. 

Click here to read about detailed Scientific reason behind ringing Temple Bell 


Bathing after attending a funeral

Our ancestors lived with the laws of Nature and did not rely on medicines that we do today.  Vaccination against diseases was practically unheard of and the best way to stay healthy was to stay clean. 

After death, a body starts decomposing and people who attend the funeral are exposed to bacteria responsible for the decomposition.  This is the reason rituals call for a bath immediately after the funeral before anything else is touched. 


Always save one roti at the end of the meal

Many families continue to keep the last roti from their meal aside even today for they believe it ensures the family will never starve. 

Our ancestors believed “athithi devo bhava” – guest is God.  Considering there were no telephone lines, emails or instant text messaging in the past, people would travel for miles to visit and would show up unannounced.  To have an empty kitchen where the guest would not be able to satisfy their hunger after a long journey, would surely be a nightmare for many.  For this reason, spare food was always kept aside for an unexpected arrival at the door and this could be anyone – from a human being to a cow or any other animal looking for food, for each and every living thing was simply a part of God. 


Eating yogurt and sugar before leaving the house, especially on important tasks

Sometimes elders would make their children eat curd and sugar before they went out to do something important like an interview or an exam. 

When the nerves are shod, the stomach can create some havoc on the body.  Yogurt is great for soothing upset stomach as it is full of active probiotic cultures which can get your digestion back on track.  It also soothes stomach woes as it is cool and coats the stomach lining.  The added sugar gives an extra energy boost and together both the ingredients create a calming effect on the body. 


Eating spicy food and ending with sweets

Indian meals are spicy and flavourful, with variations of spices that assist in not only making the meal tasty but also activate digestive enzymes and acids in the stomach to ensure proper absorption of food.   Some of these spices are the most powerful medicinal plants around.  Eating sweets at the end of a spicy meal settles the food and calms down the stomach lining.

Though they are ridiculed by many today, perhaps it is time we took a closer look at some of these taboos.  We may just find that the answers to many superstitions lie forgotten in the past.



Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Really very wonderful and useful information. Its great to know our Indian beliefs and culture. Thank u

  • I knew 2-3 points from above but knowing more is good to know. Please compile another section with more such information. Eagerly waiting for them

  • Wonder ful-
    Nothing is Unscientefic in Our culture
    The britishers spoiled every thing-
    First- spoiled Bramhins by (training) Luring them-ICS Services ? -at England
    Then India went to Street Dogs by it self
    Now also the same Strategy is going on inone way or the other- Knowingly or Un knowingly- Directly or Indirectly- In right or wrong Methods- We accept or Not

  • Everything is fine.But just because it does not have any Scientific basis, there is no need to be ashamed (as our colonial masters and their Indian followers-pseudo-intellectuals made us to do) of those traditions.Lack of an objective proof does not invalidate a tradition; but it has to evolve according to the changing times, which is the quintessential characteristic of all Indian Traditions.But, as the author rightly pointed out, it is time when we look back and analyse that many of our “traditions” which are indeed Scientific.
    Thank You

  • Can you enlighten me about the various abhishekams performed to shivlingams.Some of my friends say wasting these stuffs is foolishness and if intead of wasting these stuff these can be given to poor and needy.

    • Usually abhishekam is made to make sure the shiva lingam made os stone stays longer…

  • Eat spicy food and finish with sweets:
    Slight modification: Its not just any sweet. we shud eat jaggery after the meals or sweets made of jaggery.
    Not Sugar.
    Eating sugar or sweets made of sugar after meals is unhealthy. it will make u diabetic.

    google ‘benefits of Jaggery’ for more info.

  • Good information, but needs a serious CHANGE ..! While these ideas were good enough in those days, they are not effective anymore. They need a serious change..! people should stop believing on these myths

  • One more incident strikes my mind, kumba abhishekam here the towers of the temple are offered with pooja.

    Scientific reason:- Lightning Effect (lightning & thunder strikes will hit the tallest & closest metal)

    In Hinduism we believe that we are not supposed to reside in a village where there is no temple and no house should be built taller than the temple.

    Reason is lightning effect, all the kalash which are mounted on temple tower are made out of brass and filled with 9 grains, which acts as a good conductor of electricity and all the kalash are connected to a single iron rod which is grounded to earth to neutralize the lightning strike.

    Brass has a shelf life of 12 yrs later if its is not been galvanized again, there could be a possibility the lightning effect may cause in deviation of strike and could cause damage to adjacent structures.

    So we have kumba abhishekam once in every 12 yrs to restore the same. By this way the entire village is protected. Hinduism is art of living, not a religion.


    Sravanth D

  • The information in this website was very wonderful, and i have ever seen such type of iformation,its very useful, every hidu human beings should learn this.thank you so much

  • excellent !! our culture is the best.. so good that even nasa has to copy us .

  • I read in newspaper that our ancestors used to tie lemon , chillies and other things out of the houses usually when the houses used to be locked . In those days all the things tied were used as first aid kit . And in their absense if someone faces some medical emergency can use it . Later it became superstition.

  • Thank you so much for this article. Helped me understand that we need to research before we ridicule our ancient culture. I was trying to share this on email, but couldn’t select and copy text. I’m using the Firefox browser. Can you please enable text selection so that it is possible to copy portions of text to share with someone.

  • I do not agree with the arguments in favour of superstitions as claimed on this site. Modern world should not carry on with a burdened baggage of things which has no reasonable answers.

  • Sanskriti magazine is very informative. By reading the articles here I have come to know about so many rituals and things of our hindi culture. Thanks a lot and keep it up.

  • Thank you . I’m glad it’s proved by science now . Grown up hearing these (except lime) from grand mom And mom. Observed these always as my mom told me the reasons ..about Tulsi leaves for its medicinal benefits. But swallow. Not to sleep keeping head toward north due to flow of cosmic energy etc. I don’t speak about it to people. As I found most of the people do not know about what’s written in vadas. And fond of baseless argument
    Only sake of arguments. N I don’t have time for it . I’m very happy to read this article and sharing on fb.

  • Good information for new whatsapp generation.

  • Can anyone tell me the reason behind Killing of lamb during Kalipuja?

  • Hinduism is completely health based – every ritual and belief has some health benefit behind it – whether it is diet, exercise or meditation or prayer. Proud to be Hindu and proud of our tolerance and acceptance and respect of other religions.