1. Names of certain individual and animal not to be taken
There is a popular and widely prevailing idea that the names of certain opprobrious individuals and animals ought not to be uttered in the morning from a superstitious feeling that it is sure to meet with some misfortune during the day. The name of any well-known miser is never pronounced in the morning, from an idea that he who takes his name will not get his meals till late in the day, or some misfortune will befall him.
Some places which are named after a known miser are not pronounced in the morning. A well-known village in Champaran known as Munshi ka bazar (on the Sugauli Gobindganj road) is never named in the morning, because the man after whom it is named —Munshi Lai — was a notorious miser; similarly a village in the west Champaran, called Bhaluah, is not pronounced, because its name is akin to that of a bear.
Some animals are not readily named in the morning: Owl, monkey, ass, snake, bear, etc., from an idea that some misfortune is sure to befall the person who names them. Similarly it is considered unfortunate to meet any of these animals in the morning when one is starting on a journey.
2. The superstitions connected with a Journey is called Jatra
Important journey is often undertaken on the propitious hour for commencing it. If, on account of some pressing business or some
other cause, one cannot conveniently pursue his journey at that exact hour , still, in order to comply with the requirements, he makes a show start at the exact auspicious time, and halts a few steps from his house.
For this purpose, in good old days, Rajas and well-to-do personages had what are called yatra houses, where (after having left at the exact auspicious hour) they halt and finish their urgent business before finally proceeding on their journey. People who cannot afford to have a jatra house send out some of their wearing apparel with money or grain tied to it in advance, and this is kept in a friend’s house on the road till they come up.
When starting on a journey, the following are considered good omens to see : —
Any one carrying a full chattie of water, a pot of tyre or curd or Fish.
If any one should call out to the traveller or put any question to him when he is about to begin his journey it is considered unlucky ; also if any one should sneeze or cough at such a time.
3. Marriages of Tanks, Wells and Tree
When a tank or well is dug and completed, it is emblematically married to a tree or wooden image, which is planted in the middlein the case of tanks, and alongside in the case of wells. A summary marriage (called jalotsarg) is gone through, after which the tank or well is declared to be open for use. This superstitious ceremony is probably gone through with the idea that unless these sources of water are married, the yield will be less plentiful.
Mango groves on being planted are also married to a bar tree (Indian Ficus), which is planted in the north-east comer of the tope. A thread is passed round the whole grove, or sometimes only round the first planted tree and the ” husband ” bar tree, and a summary marriage ceremony is gone through : after which the mango grove is declared to be married.
4. Cure of maladies and keeping off the evil spirits
There are various means adopted for foretelling events and of finding out whether an undertaking will succeed or fail. A handful of corn is taken and the grains are divided into pairs: if they come out even, the undertaking will succeed; if odd, it will fail. A sneeze from any one present is considered especially an evil omen when anything is about to be begun, while the “tic- ticking” of the lizard under the same circumstances is considered a favorable omen, because it is supposed to say “right” (thik).
To find out whether an undertaking will succeed, the women commonly wrap the ends of two pieces of stick with cotton ; the sticks are then laid down on a plastered floor, and after a time the wraps are examined, if the cotton has unwound itself in both, the action will meet with complete success ; if only in one, a partial success. One way to insure success in an undertaking is to lift that foot first which corresponds to the nostril
through which one is breathing harder at the time.
There are numberless charms and spells for curing ailments. From a simple headache to the severest malady,from an ant bite to a snake bite, all are supposed to be curable by means of mantra or enchantment and incantations. In curing of diseases ,there is the belief in the healing powers possessed by one bom with ” feet presentation” A kick from him, or even a touch with his toe, is supposed to effect a ready cure in certain diseases, such as sudden rheumatic pains, etc.
5. The superstitions connected with birth and death.
On the birth , a torn shoe or the neck of a broken earthen chatty is hung prominently over the doorway. A scorpion, if found, is also burnt in the fire in the doorway, in the belief that a scorpion sting will have no effect on the child in after-life. A weapon of any kind, such as a sword, a knife, a scythe, or a piece of iron even, is put near the head of the infant to guard it from evil demons. A child bom in the month of Bhado (August-September) is especially liable to be attacked by the demon called Jamhua and is guarded by firing off a gun close to the child.
A woman who dies before her husband is considered to be very fortunate.
6. The superstitions to stop rain.
If the rain continues too long, weights (used in weighing) are dropped into a well; a chirag (oil lamp) is lit and put on a musal (pestle for pounding paddy), which is erected in the compound in the open air otherwise some figures are drawn with chalk on walls by the women and are worshiped.
To stop the continuous rain,a piece of stick is dressed up as a doll, with a small bundle of grain in one hand and a lighted torch in the other. This effigy is then put up on a pole in the yard. It is called ” Musafir” and is intended to invoke the pity of the god of rain, who, it is supposed, will relent and cause the rain to stop, and thus enable the benighted traveller to find his way home to his family with what he is carrying for them.
Source: Bihar Gatha