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OMENS THE PUNJABIS BELIEVED IN



OMENS THE PUNJABIS BELIEVED IN

 Whether we are believers  or not most of us are superstitious at heart. A cat crosses our path and we become apprehensive about the work for which we are going. Similarly, clattering keys or cutting nails in the day time is inauspicious. Such beliefs can be found in almost all societies across the caste, culture, creed or gender. Whatever may be the psychological reasons omens have become a part and parcel of the socializing process. Everyday we might be learning about some new omen whereas a few are forgotten with time. Dr. UMA ARORA Provides a fascinating and wide range of omens which were painstakingly collected by Jeff Ebbetson.

Some of these are generally Prevalent throughout lndia and others are specifically connected with agriculture and the Punjab region. Explore through this wonder world of omens but do not take them to Your heart in blind faith. Good and bad omens are innumerable. Chief among good omens is the dogar, or two water-pots one on the top of the other. For good luck this should be kept to the right, as should the crow, the black buck, and the mantis; but the snake to the left. A mantis is the horse of Ram, is very auspicious, and always saluted when seen.
To sneeze is auspicious, as You cannot die for some time after. So when a person sneezes, friends grow enthusiastic and congratulate, saying 'live a hundred years' or 'God bless you!' On the other hand the same  sneezing is always a bad omen especially among Hindus and a sneeze from any one near a Person will always prevent starting on a journey or any important business. The person will sit down for a while before recommencing. Should he fail then he will attribute it to the sneeze" interestingly after sneezing one may eat, drink or sleep, only one must not go on a visit.
For some black is unlucky, and if a man goes to build a house and charcoal turns up at the first stroke of the spade, he will abondon the site.
Owls signify desolate homes; and the koil (Eudynyms orientalis) is also especially unlucky.
NUMBERS
Similarly numbers too have their place in this interesting field of omens. Almost all odd numbers are lucky but three and thirteen are unlucky, because they are the bad days after death. That is why if a man, not content with two wives, wishes to marry again, he will first marry a tree, so that the new wife may be the fourth and not the third.
The number five and its all quot parts run through most religious and ceremonial customs. The shrine to Bhumia ;s made of five bricks; five sticks of sugarcane are offered; with the first fruits of the juice, to the god of the sugar-press, and so on; while offerings to Brahmans are always 1, 1/4, 2, 1/2, 5, 71/2, whether rupees or sers of grain.
WAHDEY  (MULTIPLY)
The dimensions of wells and well-gear on the other hand are always fixed in so many and three quarter cubits; and no carpenter would make or labourer dig you any portion of a well in round number of cubits. ln Sialkot wahde (apparently from wadhan, to increase) is always used in counting for ten. Contrarily, 12 is lucky, and complete success is called Pao bara. Likewise 52 also appears to be a happy number.
Numbers have their other peculiarities as well. ln certain areas three persons to act together as a council or committee is unlucky. Trekon janian di majlis khoti, i.e. a committee consisting of three numbers is unlucky. On the other hand to be five in council is thrice blessed, for the proverb goes, 'panchon men pir, panj pardhan or Panjo men parmeshar, the belief is that there is god in the 5 leaders, or in 5, i.e. their decision is final.
1 is neither lucky nor unlucky, though it is a multiple of 3 which is quite disastrously unlucky. 5 is very lucky and all odd numbers (except 3) like 1, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 21, 25,31, 41, 51 or 101 are considered fortunate. Bodily affections too have their significance as omens. A movement of the right eyelid or a singing in the right ear means joy; to the left, grief.
BODY PARTS
 A movement of the flesh in the right upper arm or shoulder means that you will soon embrace a friend, but one in the left portends a debilitating sickness. A tingling in the right palm means a monetary gain, in the left it means money to be paid away. ln the sole of either foot tingling denotes a journey.
 Shaking one's leg while sitting on a chair or couch means loss of money. Yawning is very unlucky. Biting one's tongue means that some one is telling tales against one.
Twitching of the right eye is a lucky omen in Kangra, and the general science of its omens is summed up in the following lines: 'lf the lower left lip twitch, know there will be a blot on the happiness. lf the upper lid twitch, say all will be delight and pleasure. lf the outer lid, it will be wealth and gain: but if the inner, loss. For the right it will be the reverse.'
ANIMALS AND BIRDS
ln rural areas animals become a means of omens. The panch 'kalian or horse with 5 white blazer, one on the forehead and one on each foot, is apparently lucky, and the hero's horse is often named Panchkalian in folk tales.
 So too when buying a buffalo, cow or bullock it is a good sign if it defecates, but do not buy if it urinates. lf a buffalo lows (aring di) it is a good omen, but the reverse if a by-stander sneezes.
A kite settling on the roof of a house is unlucky. A cat or a crow throwing water over itself denotes a coming guest.
 lf an owl hoots thrice on a man's house he must guit itfor 3, 7 or 11 days, placing thorns at its door. To re-enter the house it is essential to feast brahmans, sacrifice a goat and offer a broken coconut.
 It is believed in general that dogs are peculiarly gifted, for they can see evil spirits moving about and so their howling is a portent of evil. lf out hunting a dog rolls on its back then game will be plentiful, but if it lies quietly on its back in the house it is praying for help and some calamity is imminent! When out shooting it is very unluckY to meet a garur, a name applied in the Punjab to a small king-fisher with bright blue plumage, which is let out of its cage at the Dasehra as a sacred bird.
WHILE COMMENCING A JOURNEY
The perils of travel have led to the development of something like a science of angry in regard to it.
Before starting on an important journey a   Hindu will consult a Brahman as to what day will be propitious and if he cannot start on that day he will send on a paitra, a small bundle of necessities, to some place near the gate by which he intends going, and start himself within the next two days. When starting on a journey if a Brahman or Dumna is met, or any one carrying an empty pot (ghara) or basket (kilta), the omen is unfavourable, and the traveler turns back. lf a child is met or a person carrying full ghara the omen is favourable. lf when setting out on any purpose you meet a person carrying an empty ghara, it is an ill omen, but good if the water-pot is behind you. So too it is unpropitious to meet a person carrying wood, but the reverse if he comes behind you. For a journey or any work of importance a Brahman is consulted to ascertain the saf or lucky moment, and if the person is unable to start journey on the day and at the time fixed, his walking stick or bundle is put outside the door, and this is looked upon as equivalent to his departure.
To meet a sweeper (Chuhra) is lucky, the more so if he has a basket or a broom in hand. Also it is still more fortunate to meet a sweeper carrying fifth, or a coffin, when setting out on  business.
 After seeing a bier or touching a scavenger good Hindus will bathe.
 It is a general belief in Punjab that if you proceed on a journey or are walking out and you are called back at starting, you must stop. So strongly is this believed to be unlucky that relations will send things accidentally left after a traveler instead calling him back. .
lf while going anywhere with an object you meet a jackal, it is a good omen, but two are better: provided the animal does not cross your path - then your object will be frustrated.
To hear a jackal barking is, in Dera Ghazi Khan, most unlucky. lt is known as bhunkan. ln Rohtak it is lucky to hear a jackal howling on the left, but not on the right, and the jackal should not be spoken of by his proper name as giddar but as Jambu.  
In Bahawalpur to hear a donkey bray behind when one is, starting on a journey, or a partridge call on the left is an omen that the journey will fail in its object. But a partridge calling on the right is lucky. lt is a good omen to see the bird, called mamohala, on the right hand early in the day and later on the left, and vice versa
Good or bad, omens are believed by all so if a thief, when going to steal, hears a pheasant on the left he considers it a bad omen and returns.
lf a maina or laali is heard warbling on the roof, it is understood that a guest is expected. A crow on the coping of the house-wall denotes that a relation is coming on a visit, or at least that news from one will soon arrive. On the other hand, if a woman gets hurt she will pit it down to having heard a crow cawing on the coping. A kite sitting on the house is unlucky, so a black handi or scare-crow is usually hung on the loftiest part of the roof. Similarly, it is a bad omen for a marriage procession to hear the roar of thunder or meet with a gale of wind on their way to the bride's house.
ln some regions it is also lucky to meet a married woman, a pot full of water, a corpse in a doli, a cow with calf, a mangoose, ox, a blue jay, a peacock, a kirla (lizard) or a chhipkali (white lizard). To hear the sound of music, a parrot perching on your body, too is auspicious. But it is unlucky to meet an ass, a bull-buffalo, a sweeper with refuse, any one carrying salt or earth, a potter, a Brahman bare-headed or one who does not return your greeting, a widow, an empty pot, a blind or wall-eyed man, a bairagi or a faqir smeared with ashes, an oil- crusher (a Teli) with his pot, a crow, a jackal or a cat.
FOOD
 Food is also connected with omens so eat curd, and go where you please, but do not eat pickle or anything sour when going to visit an official, or you will either fail to see him or not gain your purpose. Students appearing for exams are given specific food on specific days to fare better. Success on a journey to pay such a visit or for any important business may be assured by observing the simple rules: Jo sur chale, wohi pag dije, poti patra kabhi na leege i.e. if you find that your right nostril breathes more quickly that your left start with you right foot, and vice versa: 'never mind books and almanac.' Should you chance to see a useless man do not let them cross you or you will fail in your undertakings.
BRAHMINS
Brahmans too have been linked with omens and in certain hill regions It is lucky to meet a Brahman telling his beads or saluting you with his tilak (sectarial mark) on. Similarly if on the road you meet milk and fish, two Brahmans with books, it is a good omen and all wishes will be granted. Finding gold is unlucky at anytime, and metal found on a Saturday, when it is unlucky to find anything, is given to a Dakaut or Maha-Brahman. No real Brahman takes alms on that day.
Quarrels are caused by mixing fire from two houses, standing a broom in a corner or allowing a child to turn over a dirty ladle, or by clattering scissors.
ln Punjab it is strongly believed that the loan of a comb or kerchief causes enmity. Or while kneading flour a bit of the dough gets loose, undoubtedly it is remarked, a guest is coming. lf unleavened bread rises while being baked on an iron plate it means that the person for whom it is being made is hungry.
lf, when one is thinking of a person or wishes to see him, he turns up it forebodes long life to him.
With omens there are some charms for crops and cattle as well. lt is believed if a crop of wheat, gram or maize be attached by insects (kungi or tela), a charm (kalam) is recited to avert injury a camel's bone burnt so that the smoke may drift over the crop, a kalam being also read.
The following charms are in use: ".Kungi, Kira, Mula and Bakhra are brothers and sisters (of the same family); by the command of God a wind blew and drove them alla way." This is spoken over sand, which is then sprinkled over the crop. The following verse is recited and blown over the diseased crops:
Kungi, Kra, Bakhra tariye bhain bhira. Roti be nimaz di gai wa udd. 'Kungi, Kira, Bakhra are all three brothers and sisters. The bread of one who does not pray (nimbs) was carried away by the wind." Meanwhile the owner walks round the field, eating fried wheat. lf he meets any one while so doing he gives him the wheat, but not speak to him. When grain has all been threshed out by the cattle the owner digs round it a trench (kara),' which he fills with water. No one may enter this circle, which protects the crop from evil spirits.
Blight is averted by hanging up a pot, on a long stick, in the field, the pot being filled with earth from a saint's tomb. ln selecting a place for a stack of corn, a pit is first dug and the earth excavated from it put back again' lt is believed that if it exactly fills the pit, the place is unpropitious and another place is chosen. But if some earth remains over the corn is stacked and the grain winnowed there.' Many cultivators set up a plough in a heap of corn and draw a line round it with a knife to prevent genii from eating the grain. lf when corn has been winnowed the grain appear less than the husks, it is believed that some evil genii has got into the heap and stolen the grain in a ram or he-goat is killed and eaten jointly by the farmers to expel it' Such genii assume the shape of ants or other insects, and so, when the husks have been separated from the grain, the ground around the heap is swept and no insect allowed to get into it. When cattle etc. are diseased they are commonly taken to a shrine, and in a dream the owner is supported to be told what means will effect a cure; or the mujdwar of the shrine hears a voice from the tomb or the cattle get frightened that they will recover.
 ln the Una the following mantar is used in cases of foot and mouth disease: Suraniit de tre bete, Dar, Dathar, Budhra, Biwi Bai di Pap dubban io dhan wich kare pasdra.
 "suranjit had three sons, Dar, Dathar and Badhra' The sins of Biwi Bai shall sink her down (i.e. she will be annihilated) if she lives at all in this world."
Among the Lammas who too have their own omens, this disease is called maiden and to cure it the shrine of Jetha Bhutta is much resorted to. lf grass does not agree with the cattle the following mantar is recited 7 or 11 times and the mullah blows into each animal's ear:
Kala paththa Pabbar wannan, Zimla wich hik salu Pannan, Na kar Paththa eda manan; Main bhi tei sat Pichhand, Ant nagri, ant gor, Mare naththa te iiwa dhor.
On the other hand Sawant appears to be a benevolent spirit who casts out diseases. 'Bantari gave birth to Sawant beyond the river, whereby ulcers, abscesses, tooth-aches, opthalmia and swellings of the breast departed', runs the couplet. lf the right breast be swollen the left is exorcised and vice versa. ln a somewhat similar way scorpion-bite is cured by proxy' A man goes on the Patient's behalf to the exorciser who blows a spell on the water which the proxy drinks, and then the sufferer recovers.
 lf a Young tree is Peculiarly flourishing or vigorous, it is dedicated lo a pir or even called after his naine, and offerings are made to it. Villagers often visit such a tree in small groups' Gradually the tree becomes the saint himself and to distinguish it a flag is fastened to it. The pir chosen in such cases is the one most implicitly believed in by the villagers- The list can go on and on.
CROWS
The study of omens from crows alone is not only exhaustive but almost a  science:
When going on a journey if a crow caw to the left, Know for certain that you will prosper'
 lf a crow on a journey go before You cawing; It means the crow is saYing that You will get a wife.
lf a crow is, to the right and go cawing to the left, understand that it is telling you that you will lose your wealth.
lf it caw first to the left and go cawing to the right, the crow, is bringing you wealth and honour above all.
lf a crow caw to the left and go upward, your journey is stayed, and you should stop at home and turn its back upon you, it is bringing grief and trouble upon you.
 lf a crow caw stand on one leg with its back to the sun, and preen its wings, some great man will die.
 lf, when you are eating in the field, a crow caw, you will obtain riches our of the earth. if a crow flutter both its wings on high, though you try a thousand Plans You will suffer loss.
lf a cawing crow sit on the back of a buffalo, you will surely be successful in your labours.
lf a crow pick up a bone from the ground and throw it into water, know that in a few days you will beneath the sod.
lf a crow lower its head towards the north, it is bringing on a disturbance and lightning.
lf a crow lower its head to the north and preen its wings, it is exiling You from Your country'
 lf a crow keep on cawing, he is calling a guest from a foreign land.
lf on a journey a crow caw with a piece of meat in its mouth, Trouble is over and you will enjoy the fruit of happiness.
So keep Your fingers crossed and keep adding.

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