Monday, 14 September 2015

Toastmasters Project 3 : Superstitions vs Reality


It was a dark night with silence all around, as silent as a grave. I being a night owl was busy at 1Am with my laptop preparing my graduate assignment. The only sound that was breaking this grave silence was the occasional howling of dogs. I instantly remembered what my grandmother used to say “ Howling of dogs at night means visit by a departed soul”. Thinking this, though it was a night of summer, still I could feel chillness of the wind sending shivers down my spine. I had never felt such discomfort though I had always been a nocturnal species. At one point I was distracted from top to bottom with the howling getting louder and louder, however I resumed my work thinking it could be just the effect of watching exorcists the previous day. I was continuously getting distracted and my instincts said that I should go out and see what was happening, but somehow I couldn’t muster courage to do so. What if it’s the recently deceased hostel watchman who had come all the way to visit the hostel campus or it could be the student who committed suicide in hostel premises a decade ago and people claim to have seen her roaming around, I was even more scared thinking of her because other day me and my friends were making fun of her and what if she was offended. My rational mind said it was pointless but these vague ideas just wouldn’t leave my mind. Somewhere, somehow I was feeling that I need to do something, in the battle between superstition vs logic it was night when logic took precedence. I woke up my roommate, somehow convinced her and we gathered all courage to walk out of our room. We walked towards the entrance of the hostel block and looked around. We could see some movement near the tree right opposite to the hostel door. Now, that was our late watchman’s favorite hub where he used to spend most of his time. We stood for a moment and looked at each other and we could witness the battle between superstition and logic in our minds. We walked forward like possessed creatures, with every step our fear was compounding exponentially. As we were near the tree, what we saw shook us to the core. Our hostel pet, Cookie was trying to move his broken leg and was wailing with pain. No ghost, no watchman, no dog superstition. It was this poor little thing fighting for life.It was on this day that I realized that we are experts at complicating things in life and human mind is one bank of superstition. It was that grave night, when I did not let logic overpower superstition.

Though we live in 21st centruy, we have conquered nature, travelled beyond planets, solved multiple mysteries, explored deepest riches of the world, but we have not been able to conquer our own mind. Our constant insecurity with the powers beyond our control has overpowered rationality and has hampered our progress to even greater heights. According to recent statistics done for a UK drama series Believe, it was found that " Belief in the supernatural and superstition ran at 55% against 49% believers in a God. The most widespread supernatural beliefs were in ghosts (33%), a sixth sense (32%), UFOs (22%) etc".

This is just in UK, taking an example of our own country, land of diverse culture with different religions, languages and traditions, these irrational dogma’s and superstitions multiply form a cobweb of complexity to please the powers beyond control.

1. Sneezing is regarded a bad sign. People do not start for work if they hear a sneeze.
2.In some parts of country it is considered inauspicious to sweep the floor at night.
3.Broken mirror bring bad luck
4. Not to cut nails at night
And many more, surround us everyday. Honestly, raise your hands if you do not believe or practice any of the beliefs that has been ingrained in you since childhood.

With all these development blocking factors , how can a society or a country be evaluated as developed one? In fact, for real development, superstitions and religious sentiments are the major impediments. Had such hurdles got eliminated, our development could have been marvelous.

We teach our kids these practices which we have inherited from our forefathers, What if while raising children we focus on looking at helping them develop rational outlook towards life’s proceedings. Why don’t we ourselves justify or questions some of our practices. Why don’t we realize that ‘there was no electricity in olden days and that’s why ppl never cut nails at night, Broken mirrors were unlucky because of hazard of hurting oneself. Why don’t we avoid considering superstitions beliefs while making decisions, Why don’t we expect the best than the worst. We need to realize that we have the power to make our own luck, learn to be positive and learn to prove that these superstitions have no basis in reality. Let’s not let superstitions overpower our culture because it’s we who define culture. Culture doesn’t make people, its people who make culture