Superstition is a belief that may be right or wrong. It may also depend from person to person. It is not necessary that superstition is limited to black cat crossing the path, touch wood or no haircut on Saturdays and it is not restricted to the uneducated people. Superstition can be anywhere and can influence anyone. It happens because of superficial or partial information that is passed on and is received blindly.
Superstitions are part of human society. They were there when the modern science was not there and they exist in this world of modern science. I have said modern science because India is said to have had its own ancient science. To reject beliefs in the name of science has been trending for quite a long time now.
The educated ones often reject the existence of God, question the relevance of astrology and even homeopathy; however, it is human nature to get attracted to some common beliefs due to fear or for some other reason no matter how scientific/educated you may be.
Read this famous incidence:
A friend was visiting in the home of Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr, the famous atom scientist.
As they were talking, the friend kept glancing at a horseshoe hanging over the door. Finally, unable to contain his curiosity any longer, he demanded:
“Niels, it can’t possibly be that you, a brilliant scientist, believe that foolish horseshoe superstition! ? !”
“Of course not,” replied the scientist. “But I understand it’s lucky whether you believe in it or not.”
When asked about astrology, Bejan Daruwalla, the celebrated astrologer said, "I don't care if it's a science or not. Fact is, it works." (Source: rediff.com)
According to http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/superstition, the meaning of superstition is: A widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.
Supernatural and widely held seem to be important in English definition of superstition.
Superstition is better defined in Hindi than English. According to the Hindi meaning (for अन्धविश्वास) it is anything that you believe blindly.
In my opinion when you trust someone or something blindly that should also fall under this category. It should not be necessarily a widely held belief or something based on superstition.
Jose Bergamin said, “A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition”.
Modern people have their own superstitions.
For example, it is commonly held that you should drink eight glasses of water a day. According to a New York Times report, “It’s just not true. There is no science behind it”. Water is already there in other food items and drinks. You don’t need to count 8 glasses of water every day.
I saw a similar thing on a TV show (forgot the name of show and channel). They also proved that the water requirement is fulfilled through other items such as juice, vegetables, fruits etc.
I see people having a water bottle and constantly consuming water just because someone told them to drink as much water as they can. Can we not call this a superstition (अन्धविश्वास)? Is this not a blind faith?
Another example: Many people in India have blindly started adopting the concept of heavy breakfast. The well educated science and engineering graduates can be found saying (all or part of) this, “Have a heavy breakfast. Skipping breakfast is dangerous for health. It will make you eat less during lunch etc.”
Whenever I said, ‘I do not have breakfast’, people looked at me like I was an alien. Why? Is breakfast so essential? According to Cosmopolitan.com, “New research conducted at Cornell University's Human Metabolic Research Unit suggests that breakfast may not be the most vital meal of the day after all”.
The research page referenced on cosmopolitan website also suggests that although the breakfast skipper might be hungrier at lunch, the amount of calorie consumption does not differ.
Lillete Dubey said, “India's a fascinating country. It's constantly changing, but there's still a lot of superstition and backwards thinking”. I don’t know her definition of backward thinking but superstitions are appearing in a different shape in the modern society.
Most people associate superstitions with religious beliefs (only). They do not look at many things they are blindly following which could be superstition. Waking up early may be good but it should depend on age and lifestyle of the person. Jogging may be good but should depend from person to person.
Another common belief in India is, “Consuming alcoholic drinks helps building good public relations”.
There could be many other examples. The modern scientific researches keep changing but the beliefs are not regularly updated. So a fact of today may be a myth tomorrow and vice versa.
Author - Archit
लाभस्तेषां जयस्तेषां कुतस्तेषां पराजयः I येषामिन्दीवरश्यामो हृदयस्थो जनार्दनः II