Monday, November 08, 2010

Superstitions

I recently read of the plight of a house owner in Markham who cannot sell his house because it is no. 4, which is "death" in Cantonese [source].
“Tetraphobia,” fear of 4, entered their vocabulary.

Having a 4 in the address can lower a home's value — "Agents estimate anywhere between $25,000 and $35,000," Graham Canning says.
The article mentions that the area was predominantly Anglo when the owners first moved in, but now is mostly Chinese (Hong Kong immigrants) - many of whom won't buy if there is the number 4 in the house address.

Now to me, this is quite silly. It's like the old joke where "so-and-so heard that 80% of accidents happen near one's home, so he moved". I then read some of the comments left by readers. Here's one:

Canada has been accommodating immigrants so long, that accommodating Canadians somehow fell off the map.

So says someone poking fun of an immigrant superstition, when you will not find a floor number 13 on most Canadian buildings! In fact, there is one condo in Scarborough where there are no floors that are numbered 4, 13 or 23!

In Bangladesh, most superstitions I grew up with tended to be fears of the dark. So for example you don't cut your nails after evening, you don't look at your shadows at night or if someone is lying on the floor, don't step over them. Some are pretty common sense but others are quite ridiculous - for example if your right hand itches you will have some money coming in!

So perhaps one should give the house owner some itching powder and get him to sell the house to a non-Chinese person.

15 comments:

Nadia said...

One of the girls in the university I went to believed in superstitions so much that she missed one of the major exams by not showing up just because a black cat crossed her path.

mezba said...

Wow - what a causal loop! She believed that a black cat would make her do bad on her exams, so she didn't even take it!

And we have a black cat! :-D

Anonymous said...

I think I read somewhere or watched it on TV where a chinese couple were trying to buy a house with specific numbers not on the address. They had an elderly woman(chinese) with them and she would go to every room and tell them which was the best one for their bedroom. In the end, they ended up buying a place and had to plan it according to what they wanted plus the numbers in the address. I grew up with superstions too. I think most of them were based on things just to *scare* you into doing or not doing some stuff. Like the cutting of nails at night was to avoid the cut nails falling and you *missing* to pick them up. I remember some things about black cats, lol. The itchy hand,well, that's a classic. I was told that if you eat in a cooking pot, there will be rain on the day of your wedding, hahahaha. sf

'liya said...

The house I grew up in for 20 years was #13 and perfectly fine though whenever I had to give my address people would always say "oooh 13" or make some silly comment :)

TManiac said...

meh...people and their superstitions. oh and btw mezba, i've christened my blog URL again to http://tahasmemoirs.blogspot.com ... haven't updated my blog in the longest time....but will update it more :)

happy blogging , fellow bloggers

dreamlife said...

I grew up with the cutting nails at night one - I think I was told that if you do that, the devil can come into you (somehow....maybe through your now cut nails)

Another one was not to throw a ball against the wall inside the house...which actually, quite obviously is a parental invention to keep walls clean :)

Another was not to whistle at night - because it calls the devil....

Anyway, Khalid Baig wrote an excellent short piece on it:

"Belief and Superstition"

http://www.albalagh.net/food_for_thought/superstition.shtml

youngMuslimah said...

i heard jinns take the form of a black cat :s
when i was in india once, everyone warned me not to walk below a tamarimd tree with my hair down loose..or have them down at weddings..

Remember to read the du'aa before you enter the washroom! My bro was having his psychiatry rotation and he had a female patient who was found unconscious in her washroom..they ran tests and couldnt find anything. Upon reading Quran, they found out she was possessed...

mezba said...

@Sf, I know of a real estate agent who told me of the same - many Chinese couple go around with a feng shu (or some other belief) expert who says the house has to be this and has to have that - and so buying a house for these sort of people become tough (and negotiations tougher). I agree with your hypothesis - many superstitions must have some practical reason from times yore!

@Liya, Ah number 13! And your father did manage to sell it too! I think it would be kind of novelty to have that number - people will never forget your address!!

@Taha, man you change your blogs more often than people change socks lol.

@Dreamlife, I was told you wouldn't get rich if you cut your nails at night. While I didn't believe in it, I also though, er, why take the chance? hehe

Thanks for the link, reading it now.

@Young Muslimah, ah jinns - Bangladesh is full of stories of jinns. I think many "pocessed" stories are in reality some psychological / medical problem.

And I tell everyone just to read some Ayatul Kursi and that should be it.

Indian Muslim said...

Great post. There are many who will not travel on Tuesday, also who will not bath after evening time etc..

Suroor said...

Wow! Really funny and interesting!

Muslim Girl said...

Superstitions are such a waste of time. I heard the one where you're not supposed to walk over someone or it will STUNT THEIR GROWTH LOL.

Me and my sister would jump over each other when we were little (when one person was lying down), and be like "HAHA you're gonna be short forever" all the time. I think we knew it was silly even back then, hence the jumping.

Lat said...

Enjoyed the post! And the comments above as well,esp your black cat! :) Remember black dogs are discriminated too as devils' agents!

The superstitions you mentioned are not much different from the Indian ones.And what about fenshui? Even Indians do it.Recently my aunt had installed a mirror facing the kitchen entrance! The kitchen is so small yet she found a space to fix the mirror! :) It's all about having good vibes and fortune.

youngMuslimah said...

i read somewhere that you should bury your cut nails and hair cause it's what the wiccans use to cast a spell on you. They need some *part* of you to brew the *mixture*.

Loginbd said...

Ha ha!!!Good post....But i also believe in superstitions. I know some time it's work.I am having some bad sense on number 13, It's always happens to me on 13 number day of any month some unpleasant thing will be happened, On the other i am having a very beautiful dress but i noticed on the day i will wear some bad thinks will happened very sure.

mezba said...

@Indian Muslim, wow I did not know about the travelling part. Here, Tuesdays is cheap travel!

@Suroor, :-)

@Mulim Girl, lol.

Are you VERY tall now? :-D

@Lat, The kitchen is so small yet she found a space to fix the mirror!

haha this had me laughing like anything. People will do anything to avoid supposed evils.

@Young Muslimah, yeah I think there is something like that in Bangladesh about 'kaala jaadu' or black magic.

@Loginbd, oh.. well, it could be something that is happening because by trying to avoid it, you are forcing it to happen. In time travel movies it's a predestination paradox (also called causal loop).