5 Common Indian Superstitions And What Do They Mean

We all have grown up with our parents, grandparents restricting us with certain activities. “Don’t cut nails in the evening”, “Don’t cut hair on Saturdays”, “If the lizards fall on you, it’s a bad luck”, “Pigeon shit is good luck ” and what not.
Another day, I was conversing with my mum, casually told her that I wanted to get my hair trimmed. Her reply,” Go tomorrow, not today.” The only reason was “You don’t cut hair on Saturdays.” After an endless argument, I gave up by just asking her to give me one valid explanation for those beliefs.

After a while, I did what any other person would – googled my questions. It turns out that many of them were baseless and many were informative. So here’s the list of the superstitions that we grew up listening to but with the reasons why it came up in the first place.

1. Spilling Of Salt

What we are told –

Spilling salt is considered unlucky. The only way out to turn back the bad luck is to throw some salt with your right hand over your left shoulder. It is also considered to be bad luck if you pass the salt to another person.



The real reason –

In ancient times, salt was an expensive commodity and therefore, wasting salt was frowned upon. So some suggest that the idea of spilling salt being ‘bad luck’ turned up to stop wasting a precious spice. Another belief stems from the ‘Last Supper’.the idea that spilling salt can bring you ill is linked to the Last Supper. The famous painting by Da Vinci shows the betrayer Judas having just knocked over a salt vessel, spilling the spice all over the table.


2. Don’t spill the boiling milk

This one rattled me. All my childhood, I grew up listening to my mom telling me – if the milk is spilt then it’s considered a bad luck. But when I started researching about it, it’s another way around. Apparently, it’s a good sign. During housewarming ceremony, the first ritual is to boil the milk and let it spill. Milk also symbolises abundance and prosperity, so spilling of boiled milk meant good energy, some money would be coming on your way!



3. Never shake your legs or you will lose money

Just try to remember the time you shake your legs. Mostly it was when you were bored. It was believed that dangling/shaking of legs occurs only when you are idle. At a time when livelihood relied on physical labour, idling meant losing valuable time and avoiding work.

shaking legs


4. Owls are Inauspicious

Owls in Atharva Veda are known as the messengers of Nirrti, the Goddess of misfortune, destruction, poverty. Because of their nocturnal activity and screeching call, they have been associated with bad luck and death. While on one hand the owl is considered an auspicious vehicle of Lakshmi — the goddess of wealth, on the other, people sacrifice them.

laksmi owl


5. Don’t wear black colour in puja/rituals

In India black is considered as an unholy colour. It is believed that black colour symbolises evil, negativity, bad luck, unhappiness, etc. But mostly black is considered as a colour of mourning or unhappiness so on occasions such as puja, celebration, black was avoided. 



Do you know any more reasons why certain superstitions came into being? Comment below.

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