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Myriads of Superstition – Curbing with Law

In spite of people having the ability of rational thinking, they are not safe from superstitions. Strange notions are unequivocally attached to social practices, particularly in India. Although 17% of the total population resides in India, Indian culture is understudied and there have not been adequate endeavours to comprehend Indian superstitions in a logical way from a psychometric viewpoint. By making an appropriate notion estimation for the Indian populace, we can more easily understand how Indians think and act. Many people misunderstand superstitions as a belief in God but we must understand that there is a line of difference between these two. There is a lot of difference between trust in god and blind trust in god.

What do you mean by Superstition?

In simple words, superstition is the practice, half-belief or belief of an individual or community or society in whole, which stands in complete contradiction to the modern science. It is a practice where one does not think rationally. We can say that it is some form of personal magic which is used for coming to terms with an unknown. Superstitions are those events which run along with the culture and rituals. They are the beliefs, concepts, practices which are accepted to be true in society and are way above logic. One always tries to catch, apply and control events happening around them and relating them to superstitions.

A superstition harms the opinion of the public. It is usually attributed as lack of education, where logic and science is not present. However, we can see many educated people being targeted by superstitious activities. Every society has different cultures and beliefs. Superstitious activities can vary from safe activities to some serious issues. Because all these beliefs are dated back from old centuries, the new laws prohibiting them face opposition.

Types Of Superstitions

Superstitions beginning from hanging lemon and chilli outside the house to protect it from an evil eye to sacrificing human beings and animals, which happens rarely in some rural areas to help women who cannot conceive or some also believe that they can get rid of their sins through the sacrificing process. Statistics show that nearly 200-300 cases where reported in Uttar Pradesh from 1999-2006 of human sacrifice wherein most of the cases small children were targeted.

 Some of the most prevalent superstitions in our country are related to one’s belief in God. We have heard of incidents where the ‘men of god‘ or ‘god’s messengers‘ try to manipulate people by claiming that they have some kind of magical powers or can heal anything through their spiritual advice. Some of them believe that they are avatars of God, some of them have built their connections internationally.

Another most important and serious form of superstition is witch-hunting also called as black magic and ‘kaala jaadu‘ which still exists in many parts of India. It was observed that mostly those people are targeted who have large properties or are divorced. Many cases were reported from 2001-2006 in North-Easts where 300 people were killed.

The need for Laws

It is very obvious that every superstition cannot be removed by enacting legislation. For complete removal of such activities, mental change is a must which every society needs to follow. Although superstitious acts can be very harmful and heinous, these can be dealt with only by the law. Maharashtra is a state which enacted the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act in 2013.

The sole purpose of enactment of this law was to protect that brutal exploitation against a person which is left unheard in the name of suspicion. People always try to mask these practices in the name of religion and think that they are developed. The acts which included human sacrifice were not banned or prohibited under the law as it was followed by puja and offerings but when this act came into effect, it was banned under the Indian Penal Code only after the murder is committed.

The law in Maharashtra also says that it is punishable by law when someone who calls themselves as ‘godmen‘ claiming supernatural powers does something illegal in the eyes of law. Legislation has the capacity to act as a deterrent. Government of Maharashtra has successfully established a law to prevent the heinous crime of human sacrifice and it’s high time that other states should implement it too.

When our Constitution incorporated the word secularism through the 42nd amendment, it aimed to treat each and every religion equally and gave the freedom to propagate and profess any religion as long as it does not hurt the sentiment of others but this principle is now misused. There have been no legal actions against these superstitions. The most common form of misusing it comes as sexual exploitation which is done by the self-claimed godmen. Almost 60% of the total crimes happening in the name of God are the cases of sexual exploitation of women.

The most important reason for creating anti-superstition law is the illiteracy rate in India. We can observe that in rural India still, many people prefer to go to a Tantrik instead of going to a doctor. People will continue to believe in such kind of activities if no law comes up to put an end to this. Although, making law won’t help change the mindsets of people completely but people will not continue to do such superstitious acts due to the fear of law.

It is not necessary that all superstitions cause harm; it is observed that some types of superstitions have some logical value attached to it. The most commonly said superstition is we should not go out during a solar eclipse because it is considered as inauspicious in Hindu Mythology and is an omen of all things evil. The reason behind saying this is that during a solar eclipse, we can lose our eyesight if we look at the sun with naked eyes as it can cause retinal burns and eclipse blindness.

Anti-Superstition Laws and Black Magic Act

Narendra Dabholkar in 2003 drafted the original bill for preventing superstition and black magic activities which were approved by the state government in July 2003, but the union government in August 2003 criticized it because of the poor usage of terms. But after facing many hardships, Narendra Dabholkar’s dream was finally achieved when in 2013, this law came into force. This includes that any act related to black magic, human sacrifice, using magic remedies or superstitious acts will be considered as criminal acts.

Currently, there are twelve clauses under this act which includes exorcising ghosts from a possessed person, assaulting, torturing or forcing sexual acts, claiming that he/she can perform miracles, encouraging acts which cause a threat to one’s life, human sacrifices, practising black magic, invoking ghostly activities, preventing someone from taking doctor’s advice in cases of dog and snake bites, claiming to change the sex of the unborn child, incarnation activities or curing an impotent woman, using a mentally challenged person for personal gains and many more.

The article 51A (h) of the Indian Constitution, section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, Drugs and Magic Remedies Act of 1954, the religious law on Prevention of Witch Practices Act of 1999 in Bihar are some of the legal aspects relating to discourage these superstitious activities.

Conclusion

Defeating superstitions fails when it comes to the belief of people. India has huge cultural and traditional diversity. People, here, hold beliefs and culture closer to them. Fear of God and lack of education are the two important reasons behind increasing superstitions in India. Most of the population which lives in rural areas believe in the occurrence of supernatural activities rather than scientific facts. The assurance that God will restore all injuries and give unceasing salvation has driven individuals to extreme ends, be it in the political field or the conventional individuals. Individuals take a bath in the Ganges keeping in mind the desire to wash away sins, singing Hanuman Chalisa, avoid the eating of non-vegetarian food on Tuesdays all of these, in one or the other, way depict superstition. Nonetheless, no culture can flourish without its counter evil.


Editor’s Note
The article talks about Superstitions and how it has prevailed throughout the years in India. The author very well speaks about various superstitions that are blindly followed in some cultures. There are strong opinions on superstitions being faulty and irrational. Some cultures in India, no doubt, have huge beliefs in God but there stands a vast difference between faith and blind faith. People with blind faith perform superstitious activities that are harming human lives, in one way or the other. The author talks about how illiteracy is one of the reasons behind illegal activities, like human and animal sacrifice, taking place in our country. In conclusion, the article has a strong voice against superstition and in favour of the laws that have been enacted to give an end to such activities.

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