Views From India


Shivateja Vemireddy, Managing Editor

Apparently in India, or the part where my parents were from, it was considered weird to write with your left hand. Being left-handed at birth, I asked my mother why I had to write–or at my age, scribble–with my right hand. Her terse response: “I don’t like writing with my left hand.” From then on, I was forced to do all my various scribblings with my right hand. At one point in my life, I was ambidextrous, so I could write or draw well with either hand. I was the coolest kid in my preschool because of my skills, but my mother disapproved. Even though I could write with my right hand, she wanted me to stop using my left hand altogether. Over time, my left hand just became another part of my body and not a special tool that distinguished me from the rest of my preschool class.

Now, as another ordinary right-handed individual, I have noticed some of my parents’ other superstitions and I have to say, they make no sense at all. I think most of these traditions or beliefs come from some random, obscure Hindu myths and legends. My parents claim that they would make more sense if I actually read about them, so I tried and they still don’t make any sense. For example, one night, an elephant-headed Hindu god was riding on his small rat friend while eating a plate of Indian sweets. Unfortunately, the rat tripped and the plate of sweets spilled on the ground. The god then heard giggling which turned out to be the moon laughing at him, so he broke off one of his tusks and threw it at the moon. So that’s why I’m not supposed to look at the full moon on certain nights. And apparently, if I do look at the moon on those nights, I will get blamed for something I didn’t do. If that superstition is actually true, I must have been looking at every full moon out there.

Also, if anyone ever sees me with long fingernails, please don’t judge me: I am just trying not to annoy the goddess of fortune. Even cutting one’s fingernails comes with its own set of restrictions. I am prohibited from cutting my nails while it is dark outside or if it’s Friday or Sunday. And when I can cut them, I either have to throw them out of the house or flush them down the toilet. If I break any of these rules I am apparently subject to misfortune.

If that sounds silly, there are some things that don’t even have a valid explanation behind them, so keep reading my friend. According to my mother, if you get too many compliments you can start feeling tired, so she has to remove something called my jishti (I have no idea how to spell it). First of all I don’t know what this even means, but it’s as if someone in India came up with the removal process as an April Fools’ Day joke. Alright, if you want to learn how to remove your jishti today, I will send you the instructions for a small fee of $19.99! But wait there’s more…just kidding, I’ll just tell you. First, pour some milk into someone else’s right hand and tell them to make a fist. Now all you have to do is stand there while the person with the milk in their right hand follows these next steps: start with your hand in front of their face, then move it down to their feet. Repeat this step twice, go to the backside of the person and do it three more times, come back to the front of the person, spit on your fist, then throw the milk over the person’s head. Congrats! You are now jishti free!