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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Is it just a superstition or has some real significance?

    In many households, we see lemon and chilies are hanging at the entrance. But what is the real reason behind it? Is it to ward off evil spirits or is there some other more practical reason behind it?

    In actuality, there is a scientific reason behind the superstition. Lemon and chilies, both have insecticidal properties which keep insects away. So, hanging lemon and chilies was a way to protect the house/shop from insects entering.

    However, it must be admitted that in the present polluted environment, these simple natural insecticides don't work very effectively.
  • #641946
    Many superstitions have some significance, but they became superstitions because of people's ignorance. Mr. Partha has rightly pointed out the reason behind hanging of lemon and chilies.

    There are many superstitions with scientific reasons and it is passed on to us by our ancestors without proper explanation. In those days, people rarely asked the elders about any restrictions imposed on to them. As a result the reasons remained unknown to them and they couldn't explain things to the youths of new generation whose approach is more scientific and rational. Since the new generation was unable to find proper answer to those things, they branded them as superstitions.

    Take the case of Breaking A Mirror - It is said that breaking a mirror will bring 7 years of bad luck. The real reason behind it is, mirrors in those days were quite expensive and the quality was also not upto the mark. So the fear of bad luck was used as a tactic to scare people about their carelessness.


    "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

  • #641954
    The properties you talked about only hold good if the lemon and chillies are fresh. But few days later they become fermented and pungent. This foul smell would attract flies and other uninvited bugs like mosquitos which track their prey mainly with their acute sense of smell. I don't think they have any physical significance at all. After their pungent phase they just shrivel up and dry. What about their properties then? You can replace them with a new pair only to start the cycle once again.

    Laskhmi's sister Alakshmi is believed as the bringer of misfortunes. And she is fond of sour and spicy food. When you think about it, sour and spicy is probably one of the best combinations. So Alakshmi would feast on lemons and leave. Chillies were brought into India by Portuguese. I am not ready to believe that lemon and peppers were hung before the doors. But that practice would actually make sense because black pepper has an incredibly high shelf life.
    If you ask me I would place this practice in late 17th century. This could have been a local practice. In Maharashtra maybe. And soon myths and stories reached parts of India and now its a very well known custom.

    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

  • #641956
    "If you ask me I would place this practice in late 17th century. This could have been a local practice. In Maharashtra maybe."---------------I notice this everyday, everywhere in Delhi.
    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #641970
    Basically the lemon and chilies together are tied in front of the house or even on the vehicles to ward of evil spirit. It is said that those with their sore eye can damage the progress of a person or thing and that is why these lemon and chilly shall take care. But people are having so much grudge on others progress that they would do anything to damage the reputation and progress of their enemies and so in these present day such kind of superstition is not having takers. But we should not pooh pooh the old practice and do follow what the elders say. One thing is sure by spending few rupees at least we have the satisfaction of taken action against the evil spirit.
    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #641971
    In many societies there are many such things observed and believed for well being of the household or prosperity of the shops etc. Lemon and chilies is one of such supposed method or superstition for protecting oneself from the bad times in life.

    Even if these methods work no one knows their reasons of effectiveness as they are more on beliefs rather than the physical properties. The interesting thing about these measures is they spread in society from one person to another and even one isolated case of person, who has benefited from it, is sufficient to spread it in the community or area or locality and soon it will spread to other places in the country as well as to community members residing outside of the country.

    So belief is something beyond the realm of science and scientific methods can not be used to make an assessment of these practices.

    Another interesting thing is that people are told that if they use such practices, even if they are not benefited, they will not be harmed. So let us try and if not getting results either switch to other such measures or blame it on the destiny.

    So there is lot of scope for ineffectiveness of these measures and also a lot of uncertainties in their outcomes still people use them blindly with faith.

    Knowledge is power.

  • #641975
    Partha read my response clearly again. I said that is where is started or might have started. And ofcourse I mentioned that the practice is now widespread among other states.

    Arrival of interstate trucks and lorries could be a reason. These drivers hung lemon and chillies in their trucks and went round the country. Soon people began mimicking the practice. The sellers of tabeez,surakshaa kavach even today are majority Marathis. That was my reason to speculate.
    In old photos of our leaders standing near doors , we don't really find lemon and chillies hung. That suggests the practice gradually took hold. I once asked about this to my grandfather who was born in 1924. He said he never noticed this practice in Tamilnadu at that time and saw it only when he came to Hyderabad, in 70s.
    Immensely fascinating stories emerge if we start trying to analyse the origins of our rituals and commodities.

    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

  • #641976
    Mr. Aditya Mohan: I have quoted your response. In the context of your comment, I have stated that I notice this custom everywhere in Delhi (you stated that it may be a local custom in Maharashtra).
    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #641979
    Partha for your kind attention -

    "If you ask me I would place this practice in late 17th century. This could have been a local practice. In Maharashtra maybe. And soon myths and stories reached parts of India and now its a very well known custom".

    Please read Aditya Mohan's response again. Don't just take phrases out of a paragraph and put them into context.

    Coming to the tradition, I think it has got more to do with the belief that it wards off evil eyes. The lime and green chilli 'embellishments' can be seen on the threshold of residences and businesses and on vehicles. Plastic varieties of the same arrangements are now available in home decor stores.

    They might act as an insect repellant but do critters use only the main doorway as their entry point. What about windows and ventilators?

    From my knowledge of the practice, I see it is as more of a superstition, especially when there is no scientific evidence to prove another theory.

    "A love affair with knowledge will never end in heartbreak." -Michael Garrett Marino

  • #641988
    There are/were several such practices followed by people. Just as a custom it is continued from generation to generation. These types of practices are there in almost all religions.
    In certain places a bunch of ear of paddy are hung in front of the main entrance of the polka room. It is believed as a symbol of goodness and wealth. These are all based on the localised or cast based believes. When we look at some of them we can relate with certain useful and healthy practice.


  • #641990
    These are all old beliefs which will get passed on to the next generation. There may not be any scientific explanation or significance in these issues. Many people will do this as a routine and they feel my parents did it and let me also do. There may be a benefit or not, there is no loss and hence let us do it, is another concept in some people.
    In AP and Telangana many people tie pumpkin in the portico of the house. This is believed by people in this area that by doing this the people in the house will not have any problems. As mentioned in #641988, a bunch of ear of Paddy hanging in front of the house in the portico is a custom in Konaseema of AP. This will attract some small birds also to the house. It gives beauty to the house also.

    always confident

  • #642015
    I never seen those being practicing in my homes. I don't even believe in such activities as these never seemed logical to me. If these would have got some positive impacts such as removing the misfortunes then nobody in India would have been living in miseries.

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