You may have heard of the many bizarre beliefs and superstitions of India, and though the country is no longer that land of snake charmers and elephants, when you decide to visit the country, there will be so much more that will threaten to blow away all that you read or heard. In case you don’t like to be surprised, and don’t want to commit a cultural faux pas, it is better that you inform yourself about a few beliefs which are considered quite the norm here:
1. You must not walk on any holy ground wearing a shoe/sandal/slipper
You may be used to walking into a church with your shoes on, but in India you would be committing a sin if you do not remove your footwear while entering the premise of a temple or any other venerable ground/stage. Walking over any holy place with shoes/slippers/sandals on is considered sacrilegious.
Beware! - Besides removing your shoes before entering a temple, make sure to deposit them at the officially designated place, or else be prepared to buy a new pair.
2. Holy Cow
In Hindu religion, a cow is called ‘gau mata’ or the cow mother. If you find an Indian citizen standing before a cow, bent and doing a Namaste or touching her forehead respectfully, don’t get stunned. It is his way of showing his/her obeisance to the holy mammal.
What not to do: DO NOT hurt a cow. You might be forgiven for hurting a dog (though that is equally cruel), but you will not be spared for doing anything mean to a cow.
3. Lemon and chilly can keep evil spirits at bay
If you explore the country, especially the rural areas, you are quite likely to find lemon and chilly hanging outside shops and even homes. It is believed that combination has the power to keep evil spirits from entering the compound.
What not to do: If you want to conform to this belief, don’t step on a “Nimbu-mirchi” lying on the road. They say evil spirits reside in it.
What you can actually do: Hang a “nimbu-mirchi” from your neck. You will walk in to smiles and applause everywhere.
4. People wear talismans to ward off bad luck
India has been always a country of tantriks and talismans. Even today, you will find men and women donning talismans at different portions of their bodies. Surprisingly, even the so-called educated and urbane youths don’t think twice before accepting these talismans from astrologers and decking their arms, fingers and necks with them.
What not to do: Just don’t get duped by a tantric. Ask him to give you a stylish talisman at least.
5. If you apply red colour over a girl’s hair parting, she becomes your wife (Okay that is more inspired by Bollywood)
If you are a guy reading this, be wary of the colour red especially when you are flirting with an Indian girl. In this country, a man usually applies red vermillion in the hair parting of a girl when he is marrying her.
6. Sneezing is bad news baby
In India, people believe that sneezing brings bad luck. So, if you sneeze while someone is about to leave for a journey or is about to start some ritual, he will pause for a few minutes to allow the bad moment to pass.
What not to do: If you are in a temple, and the priest is about to do something important, hold back that sneeze.
What you should actually do: Actually, you should fake a sneeze and watch the man crawl back in disgust.
7. Cobras are venerated
On seeing a cobra, you may tend to scuttle away. But Indians venerate these feared reptiles and even offer them milk. As per religious beliefs, a cobra drapes the neck of Lord Shiva. The snake is revered and is often called as the ‘naag devta’ (the lord of the snakes).
What not to do: So if you are the adventurous kind, and a cruel one at that, do not try to hunt down a snake without provocation.
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