Monday, March 5, 2012


A long time ago, when I was attending a residential management course in a Hotel, I had to share my room with another participant, a stranger to me. When we checked into the room together, he requested whether he could occupy the bed which was on the left; because when he woke up in the morning he liked to get out from the bed from his right. Next morning when he got up, with his eyes closed he pulled out a small hand mirror kept under the pillow and opened his eyes holding the mirror in front of his face. Somebody had told him that if you see your own face in the mirror first thing in the morning, then you would have a great Day!

Superstition is universal. Most common ones relate to cats, lizards or the No.13 which is considered an unlucky number in the Western world. Sportsmen, film actors/directors have their own beliefs in numbers, names and good times. Each of us has our own superstitions –probably ingrained into us by our parents early in life or ones we have picked up on the way.

Throughout my life I have been obsessed with Rahu Kalam – 90 minutes of inauspicious time which occurs at different times of the day – every day of the week. On Sunday it is between 4.30 and 6.00 pm, on Mon. – 7.30 - 9.00 am, Tue- 3.00-4.30pm, Wed.-12.00-1.30pm, Thu.-1.30-3.00pm, Fri.-10.30am-12.00 noon and Sat. 9.00-10.30am

When I got into the advertising profession and became an Account Executive (Client Service Executive) I had to attend meetings almost every day. If a client gave me an appointment during Rahu Kalam, I would panic and would find some excuse or the other to either prepone or postpone the meeting! In Bombay, where I started my advertising career, I could never give the real reason for the shift, whereas, when I moved to Chennai I could openly mention Rahu kalam as the reason for postponing or rescheduling a meeting, which is considered an acceptable attitude in the South.

When things go wrong the superstitious amongst us invariably blame the time, the day or any other belief we might have flouted but never agree that we have actually made a genuine mistake.

But our elders were clever people. If one had to perform an act during the inauspicious time or day because of circumstances beyond our control, then they had a solution as well!

Suppose you could not get a train ticket on the auspicious day you wanted to, but got it for another day which was not a good day to start the journey, their solution for this was called Parasthanam – all that you had to do was to move one of the luggage you would be carrying for the journey to a friend or relative’s house prior to the actual day of journey, probably on the auspicious day that you so desired, and collect the same on the way to the station on the day of your journey!

Another concept popularized by our elders is Pari-karam to get rid of the guilt feeling associated with not being able to perform a prescribed ritual on special occasions as ordained by the religion. Not to worry; you just have to do a small Puja or give away things for charity- and God would excuse you for your inability to perform the ritual.

Like negative mindsets, superstitions also come in the way of rational decision making.

In the last lap of my life journey, I am trying to get rid of many superstitious beliefs, and I start with having stopped worrying about Rahu Kalam anymore!

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