Superstitions Of Tamilnadu
Superstitions in Tamil Nadu
Dr. N.Ezhilan M.D
“The belief that certain events cannot be explained by reason or science, or that they bring good or bad luck; - Oxford Dictionary
The state is known for its unique exposure to diverse culture, traditions and many religious reformation movements. It is the irony of this state that people are constantly entangled in debates between the religious groups and the reformists questioning the accepted beliefs of the society.
The crux of this essay is to provide the reader a quick tour of many superstitions existing in the present Tamil society.
Cause and Effect analysis
The human mind can think, reason out and rationalize any content that it receives by sensory inputs. Many cause and effect inputs are realized in our mind by facts and many are realized by myths and fiction. A simple example, boiling of water (cause) gives rise to water vapour (effect) –realization by facts (evaporation) – science. The crossing of a black cat when leaving the house (cause)-losing a purse in the bus (effect) – realization by myth – superstition.
As a physician I do fasting blood sugar lab test for screening diabetes in high risk patients. In similar way horoscope matching is a compulsory screening test for marriages in Tamil nadu irrespective of religion. The astrology is at its peak in such an extent, that couples plan to deliver the babies near term in an auspicious time predicted by their family astrologer. The felt need is understood by the mass media right from leading newspaper magazines to television channels which amplifies their revenue. The astrology seeking behaviour is conditioned in the society. It starts from the naming of the child as per the stars, planets consultation for career guidance, manglik dosham avoidance for selecting your life partner, eliminating Saturn influence on your financial tables, timing of good and bad hours in lifestyle intervention or to get an election ticket in a political party.
Cause and effect analysis by myth – As per astrology chart when a child is born, the timing is correlated with planets position and star constellations. The destiny of the child is determined by the chart. The horoscope chart is the hand of god to guide the child in any vital event in his or her life.
Cause and effect analysis by facts- Astronomy –study of stars – science
Fact 1– our solar system is helio centric (sun is in the centre and all planets revolve around it.
Myth- Astrology based on geo –centric theory (earth is in the centre of our solar system and all planets including the sun revolve around it)
Fact 2. - Sun is a star capable to produce its own light. Moon is a satellite of the earth. Moon comes in the path way between earth and sun to produce solar eclipse. So does earth comes in between moon and sun to produce lunar eclipse. . Mars (manglik-sevai dosham) nor Saturn (sani –perchi) never come in the pathway of earth to exert its influence.
Myth –As per astrology sun and moon are considered to be planets .The planets Uranus Neptune and Pluto are never found in astrology charts since they were discovered only in early 1900’s.Ragu and Kethu – are two invisible snakes later described as invisible planets revolve around our celestial system to produce lunar and solar eclipse.
Fact 3. It takes 8 mins 20 secs for light to reach earth from sun and days to weeks from stars.
Myth: The birth time is very crucial in astrology as planetary effect starts at that moment.
Fact 4 - Life of the baby is formed at conception inside the womb. After nine months it takes ten stages of labour for the baby to come out of the birth canal .The time duration spans between 10 to 12 hours.
Myth : Astrologers calculate the time when the baby is out of the birth canal. They consider local time for cosmic rays to have its effect on the baby rather than International standard time or Indian standard time.
Note : The urbanized parents in Tamil Nadu teach their school going children the basic structure of the solar system ,planets and constellations according to science but follow strict astrology myths for marriages and career guidance. The state with the literacy rate edging above 70% still believes in cosmic influence in their day to day activities.
You can see lot of soothsayers during you evening stroll in marina beach. They belong to lower socio economic strata of astrologers. Their tools are mostly parrots or a palm reading rod .They can predict your life for a sum less than rupees 150
Fact – The palmar creases are formed due to folding and buckling of the hand of the baby inside the mother’s womb .The parrot brain is around 200 grams and it has poorly frontal lobes. The human brain weighs around 1.5 kg and a well developed frontal lobe for memory, intelligence and thought process.
–Myth – The palm creases in each person will predict his success or failures in his life. The parrot tipped random selection of god imprinted cards will guide your future course of life.
Each and every newly constructed buildings rising up in Tamil Nadu ranging from residential bungalows, commercial complexes, hospitals and cinema malls must abide to vastu principles even surpassing the MMDA violations. The orientation of roof, rooms, door and windows, alignment of furniture as per vastu rules have direct psychic influence on the resident body and mind. For success in business ventures, to pass in a board exam and to reduce tension in household relationships restructuring the existing home according to vastu principles is prevalent in Tamil nadu.
Cause effect analysis -
Myth: It reveals that Lord Shiva and Andagasuran were engaged in fierce battle. The sweat of Shiva landed on mother Earth to give birth to Vasthu.Vasthu used to lie down in each and every house hold with his two legs directed according to each auspicious month (as per lunar signs ).His head would lie in opposite direction. His right hand directed to the roof and left hand to the floor. He would rise and change his position for every lunar month. The bed room, hall and the kitchen positions would vary according to Vasthu body. Vastu principles vary according to caste of the residing family – (ref-Mayan-vastu sastra- 6th century A.D)
Fact: According to vastu principles earth is stationery and the four directions are fixed. But the fact is earth rotates itself east to west direction on north to south axis in 24 hours. For example if a bed room is placed in east direction in the morning will be in the west in the night.Vastu principles are not laid down for bathrooms. The vastu principles never apply to the huts, welfare hostels and urban slums. Our Former President Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam spent most of his lifetime in a single room before rising up to present stature.
Why caste should be termed as a superstition? We should revisit our definition again. It is a belief system cannot be explained by reason or science. It has infiltrated in all aspects of the civil society of Tamil nadu.It is the worst form of discrimination based on birth of an individual. It had developed deep roots into the minds of the people similar to cancer metastasis. The matrimonial columns of leading newspapers will reveal shameful facts. Professionals seek bride and bridegrooms of the same caste depicting open form of discrimination. News items like caste Hindus preventing dalits to enter into temples, honour killings of couples of intercaste marriage had become a routine in the affairs of the state. Politicians, bureaucrats, academicians, doctors, lawyers and businessmen are no exception in practicing this superstition. Caste menace has no religious limitation in the state.
Cause and effect analysis
Myth- Each individual birth and caste is determined by his previous life doings and un doings. The good deeds in the previous birth will result in birth in higher caste and bad deeds will lead to birth in lower caste. Caste principles are justified by Lord Krishna in Gita.
Facts – All human beings are classified as Homo sapiens. Every human being living cell contains 46 chromosomes. The human blood groups 0, A, B, AB, and Rhfactor can make a differentiation at the time of blood transfusions. In each government hospital there will be an average of 20 – 30 transfusion per day. The blood bank contains human blood of all religious and caste communities. Therefore every day constant mixing of human blood irrespective of class, caste or religion is taking place destroying the fundamentals of any discrimination.
In every society devil has a role to play. The fear of the dead, burial grounds, dark nights, howling of the street dogs is conditioned in us. In rural villages exorcism is a common affair. Temple priests, traditional ghost busters, spiritual gurus are the specialists in this field. Night pujas, yagam, special prayers groups against satanic forces had attained significant importance cutting across class, caste and religious strata.
Cause Effect analysis
Myth: People who die due to unnatural causes such as suicide, homicide and accidents especially of young age are believed to move around as spirits. They are ghost with unfulfilled commitments. They can be controlled by ghost charmers and god men. Any person can hire a ghost through a ghost charmer and direct towards their enemies. There is utmost destruction to the targeted person and his family. He succumbs and seeks another ghost charmer to redeem himself.
Facts: ‘weakness of human mind is religion’- Albert Einstein. I would borrow from him to quote ‘disease of the human mind is superstition’. Under genetic predisposition, frequent emotional insults push a person’s mind to diseased status. The culturally evolved beliefs such ghost and black magic are imbibed and converted into persecutory delusion (example: A deep financial crisis after a demise of a father, unable to bear sudden transfer of responsibilities may bring down the mind of a teenage son. His thought process is directed towards his relatives who may not or may be responsible for his current situation).The delusional world with visual, auditory hallucinations of ghost, Satan and spirits drives them towards ghost charmers rather than to psychiatrists. In urban environment of Tamil Nadu awareness had lead to the concepts of mental health and professional help is being offered. But in rural areas ghost busters, god men and temple priests dominate the show.
Note: All doctors including me would have dissected unclaimed human bodies died out of mass causalities, suicide and homicide. If those so called spirits would have witnessed our brutal dissection of their bodies in our anatomy classes, no wonder more than fifty percent of the doctor’s population would have been perished by now.
Tamil Nadu is a peculiar state known for its both deep religion bound superstitious beliefs and radical black shirt rationalist movement. The state has obtained surmountable amount of tolerance from views expressed from extreme ends.
Education has become a habit in every Tamil’s mind. The state produces maximum number of professionals in the field of engineering and medicine. But clear dichotomy has developed in an educated mind. People read science but without scientific temper. So buffet of superstitions are still being served to the Tamil society.
Therefore the need of this famous quote from the great social scientist Valluvar still persists.
“Whatever thing, of whatsoever kind it be,
Tis wisdom’s part in each the very thing to see.