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Beliefs and Superstitions

Beliefs Regarding Birth of Children

These are many and varied. A child should not be born at mid day or at mid night. A child should not be born with Chitrai as the birth star, because, Chitra guptan, the faithful servant of Yama was born in this star.

Birth in swati star is said to be bad for any child. A boy is extremely lucky to be born in Moola but woe unto a girl born under this star. A person is considered fortunate if he has a piece of agricultural land near his village and a child born in Uttradam star. He who is born in Bharani will rule the earth. A grand father may, prefer to death to hearing that his grand son's star is Kettai. A father will become a beggar if a boy is born in the Chitrai star. A birth in Rohini is inauspicious for the child's uncle. A girl born in avittam will find gold even in a pot of bran. Pooradam is an undesirable star for girls.

Daughter should be born in odd number in the sequence of birth i.e. first, third, fifth children should be girls. A fourth-born girl is said to ruin the house, but a fifth-born girl will bring gold to the house. A fifth born boy will squander away all the wealth. A six-born girl brings either prosperity or poverty. A seventh-born girl will utter poverty to the family. She cannot be successful even as a beggar. An eighth-born girl destroys everything. She has a glimpse of Ettavathu penn ettipatha idam kuttichuvaru. A tenth-born girl makes wealth fly away like cotton. In view of these beliefs, contracting parties to a marriage make enquires about the number of the birth of the groom or bride.

When twins are born, if both of them are boys, the family is said to have turned a leaf for the better and there is very great rejoicing. It is not inauspicious if both the children are girls. A boy and a girl born together forebode evil to the family.

Beliefs about Children

A mirror should not be shown to babies as it is supposed to make them dumb. A person should not clean his teeth while baby sitting.

When the first tooth of a child falls out the fallen tooth is carefully placed in a lump of cow -dung, symbol of fertility, and thrown over roof in the belief that such action will hasten the re-growth of the child 's teeth.
On suspicion that a person's jealous eye is the cause of child's illness or some misery in the family, at his next visit some one in the family follows him, collects a handful of earth on which that person had set foot and circles it clockwise around the child's head thrice, to ward off evil and then throws it in to the oven. If a child has breathing difficulty immediately after birth its forehead is scorched with a hot needle.

When the fist two children die, the death of the third child is averted by disfiguring its face, by piercing the left nostril and putting a gold wire ring through it. These mutilations are effected to make the child ugly and thus prevent him/her being the cynosure of this child by giving the child a humble name like Kuppusamy (Lord of refuse), Kuppammal (lady of refuse ), Pakri( Fakir) or Pichai (beggar).

Beliefs about Pregnant Women

It is believed that a pregnant woman should not be photographed. A pregnant woman's requests for edibles and consumer articles generally acceded to since it is though that refusal may lead to ear-diseases for the child in the womb.

Therai ( toad) falling on a pregnant woman may be the cause of some diseases to the off-spring. Between conception and delivery, a woman should not do any tailoring work. A woman bitten by a scorpion during pregnancy immunises the future child to scorpion-bites. A nest being built inside a house by a bird or wasp assures safe delivery.

Beliefs about Days of the Week

A bride does not leave her mother's house on Friday, immediately after the completion of the marriage rites, the departure ceremony is postponed to the next day.

Large number of people do not make any payments on Fridays, except giving small coins to beggars. People do not sell property on Fridays. A man doing an important act on a Tuesday may risk losing his food. Wednesday is the best day for important ventures and is as 'good as gold'. Thursday are unsuitable to offer first hospitality to guests. A person setting out on a Sunday for an important price if work may have to wonder aimlessly like a dog.

Beliefs about Death

Old persons having prolonged illness are expected to get worse or die on the new moon day. The new moon day is called 'heavy day', since it takes a heavy toll of death. According to general belief, persons suffering from Paralytic attacks die exactly after three days, three months or three years after the first attack. Dream of a temple, car in motion or burglary, foretells the death of some near relation. During certain periods of the day known as Kulikai kalam in auspicious ceremonies like funeral or burial are not performed.

Beliefs about Directions

The working desk in the house or office is usually placed in the north-east or south-west corner, for it is believed that enemies will be giving constant trouble, if the desk is situated in the other corners. People do not sleep with the head towards north and feet towards south, the direction of the regions of the Lord of death. There are various beliefs also about the direction that structure should face. The Nataraja shrine faces the south, since its look will cause the destruction of the street it faces a sub shrine, a well or wall is put up opposite this shrine.

There is a belief about the direction in which a banana plant grows in the garden .If it sprouts in the north, it foretells calamity, sprouting in other directions portends prosperity.

Beliefs about Marriage

In Thanjavur district, it is believed that marriage negotiations can be accelerated by performing an abisheka or sacred bath to the image of the deity Kalyanasundara in Thirumancheri village. It is said that if the garland placed around that deity is removed and worn by a human being the wearer will get married with in seven weeks. This has local variations, for instance at the Kodana Rama temple at Madhuranthakam the performance of an archana (special prayer) to this deity is said to ensure immediate marriage .

In some social groups, it is forbidden to attend a marriage after an oil bath, i.e. after anointing one's body with oil and tasking a bath. It is ordained that mirth in funeral or grief in marriage should be avoided and so tradition forbids attendance at a marriage and funeral at the same day .

To get a lover of one's choice, some people prepare oily concoctions and secretly place them in the toilet-case used by the beloved or lover .

Don'ts After Dusk

By tradition, a number of activities are avoided after sunset. These include the cutting of one's hair or even nails, giving of dirty linen to the dhobi, mention of words to denote snake or the barber, lending or giving needles salt ,butter, milk or white articles generally .Similarly neither fire nor a match is lent after sunset . The custom is to borrow a burning log of wood or glowing embers from a neighbours to light the oven in the morning .Some families take pride in saying that the oven is never extinguished in their homes. The fire kept alive continuously is supposed to indicate prosperity to the extent of being able to feeds guests around the clock .

Beliefs about Early Morning Sights

Mirror, a pot full of water, flag, light a pair of fish and turmeric are auspicious articles. On getting up from the bed, a person luckily to see any of these. He is also fortunate if he sees first a lotus flower, gold, the ruler, light, the sun, fire, the sea, a temple tower, a hill with signs of rain a cow and a calf, his own right hand, his wife face, a lunatic, a black monkey, an elephant or a percussion instruments called Mridanga (a small drum)

Beliefs about Dreams

Dreams in the early morning are expected to come true. It is stated that it is a good sign to dream about marriage. In Kanyakumari district, it is felt that every dream will have the opposite result.

Beliefs about Business

The cash received first in the morning is accepted in solemnity. The shop keeper takes the money as near as possible to his eyes and places it in the cash-box after a brief prayer. Sleeping in business premises during working hours is discouraged.

Salesman avoid 'no' to queries. If we ask for salt which is not available, they will say that something else is in stock. If house wives run short of some item wanted by a neighbour they will say 'I have it in plenty'.

In oil stores dealers commence the days business by selling any article other than oil.

Religious Beliefs

In the beliefs that the god will reciprocate, people make vows and carry them out. Parents desiring off spring promise that if a child is born, they will donate the child's first hair to the deity which grant the boon or they will hang a miniature cradle in a temple to beget a child by god's grace .

If a child is ill the parents or grand parents promise to present silver or gold articles to the deity on the child recovering its health. Offerings are made in the shape of parts of the body which have subject to disease. Elderly persons roll their body around the temples outer boundaries, on the earthen road several times and even for several kilometers to thank providence for mercies shown. In Thiruvannamalai it take the form of girivalam or circling the hill, a distance of 13 km.

On buying a new car, many persons make the first drive to a temple. If a cow is purchased, the first milking is used to anoint a deity. The first ghee melted from the cows butter is poured in to the temple lamp as fuel to brighten its glow .

When faced with dilemma, instead of considering merits and demerits, villagers put up some flowers in a temple and see which way the wind lifts it to decide an issue. Or they draw lots in front of their favourite deity to decide whether they should go ahead with a suggested surgical operation etc.

When a coconut is broken in the temple, it should part in to two regular and equal halves and not break at tangent in to the eyes of the coconut. A decayed or rotten coconut foreshadows serious mishap to the devotee .

If two families fill out and they later join hands, each family contributes a token sum and the money is jointly deposited in the temple cash-chest to seek the deity's approval of the reconciliation. Other wise, it is feared that the reunion may be just a temporary phenomenon .

If the axle of a temple car cracks or give away, the event is likely to bring misery to that village. Another fear is that a dwelling house built higher than that of the tower of the local temple may cause havoc to the inhabitants.

After sneezing, people exclaim 'Shiva', 'Rama ' or 'Krishna'. If some one yawns, the person yawing or his neighbour snaps his fingers to the right and to the left to scare away evil-spirits .

The first pumpkin or for that matter any first produce in the vegetable garden is donated to the temple-kitchen.

In Thenbaranadu, which is in Thiruchirappali district, a person sent to select a bride should give up his mission, if he happens to cross a bamboo, fire wood or a reptile or if hears the sound of the deer .

Other Beliefs

As they are growing up, girls learn to keep the house clean, to wash the utensils properly and to observe carefully all the rules of good house-keeping. While sweeping the floors, mothers advise daughters to collect all the dust and throw it out side. If a girl leaves the dust in corner, she is rebuked and told that she too may be left alone in a corner on festival day or on the day of her brother's marriage i.e. her menstrual period may coincide with such junctions and prevent her participation in the rejoicing. Collection of dust in the corners is supposed to bring bad tidings and debt. Use of broken mirror should be avoided .

Itching of the right palm indicates income showers during hottest part of the year signify a prosperous year ahead. Viewing the moon on the fourth day after the new-moon will curtail the powers of memory. Spending money or quarrelling with someone on new year's day signifies the same trend throughout the year.

Biting of finger nails, avoidable waste of water, frequent jerking of legs and entry of tortoise in to a house are symptoms of forth coming poverty. Sitting cross-legged or keeping hand folded around the knees are habits of associated with the dead .

Unbleached garments and other new apparel are worn after smearing the ends with turmeric powder, to ward off evil. A cow or horse purchased by a person has the power of affecting his future for good or bad.

When light (including electric light ) is lit after sunset, the folk join their palms together and thank God for having led them from darkness to light. Similarly at the day break life begins with the salutation of the sun.

Mistakes occurring in documents are not scored out instead, the alternations and corrections necessary are pointed out in the last line for it is believed that striking some thing written in document foretells ill-luck. It is accidentally when making out a document . To give or accept anything with the left hand s an indiscreet act and will cause offence to the other party .

A kind of pigment is manufactured by mixing powered hones of the animal called Devangu (sloth) , a portion of the skull of dead women and greenish type camphor and this is applied to the betel leaf which is then locked in to find out the complexion of a thief, his characteristics and the direction he came from.

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