Odd to outright bizarre, India goes superstitious for World CupApril 1st, 2011 - 5:44 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) When that obsessive lover tries to seduce the sporting gods, charm the holy spirits and change the course of destiny to help its team win - even if it means standing for 12 hours or not paying even one visit to the toilet - then calling India a cricket-loving nation is an understatement.
The World Cup in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium is making Indians act in strangely irrational ways. All that the self-imposed rituals need are a patriotic heart and a highly-developed ability to correlate the activities on TV with one’s surroundings.
Once you realise these ’secret powers’, you start showing the door to ‘unlucky’ family members, or demand the repeat performance of a casual walk in anticipation of another wicket or flip the remote from one hand to another to make sure that boundaries don’t dry up.
Samir Parikh, chief of mental health department at Max Healthcare, says people observe these superstitions when something really matters to them.
“It helps them release their own anxieties. It makes them feel good about themselves, if Sachin makes a century, they say ‘I did this, that’s why he was able to make a hundred’,” Parikh told IANS.
As Team India plays Sri Lanka in Mumbai Saturday for the trophy, a slice of superstitious India will be playing mind games with itself, geometrically aligning its internal world in accordance with vastu settings and putting to test its most prized assortment of rituals.
Some like Delhi-based Ritangshu Bhattacharya will be putting their bladders to test. “I won’t pee in the entire match…I feel whenever I go to the loo, a wicket falls or India drops a catch,” the 21-year-old said audaciously.
Giving him intense competition in irrational behaviour is 25-year-old Himanshu Kakkar who doesn’t answer the door bell when India’s batting.
“Whenever I open the door, someone or the other gets out. I’ve told my parents about this and they understand. Now they lock the door whenever they go out and use keys to enter home.”
Then there’s Hyderabad-based Sharda Annamaraju who usually doesn’t watch matches, and has noticed how “every time I have avoided watching a big match, we have won”.
On the other hand, Chennai-based Vipul Vivek has made his peace with a sad ‘reality’ of life. “My friends believe that the team I support always loses. I supported Pakistan in the semifinal…” he rests his case.
Mumbai-based Ankit Malhotra, 28, believes his watching the match in the bare minimum is directly proportional to India’s victory!
Then there are those with impregnable faith in the power of fire rituals and mass prayers. Lighting incense sticks or diyas in front of the TV is the least they can do for their nation.
While many dismiss these practices as the absurd acts of fanatics, there’s no doubting that the Men in Blue themselves are also bit by the superstition bug.
It’s in common knowledge that master-blaster Sachin Tendulkar unfailingly wears his left pad first while getting ready to bat. It’s also said that southpaw Sourav Ganguly used to carry the photo of his guru in his pocket while batting.
Then there was the famous red handkerchief, unmistakably resting in former Australian captain Steve Waugh’s left pocket. And Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene showing remarkable affection to his bat by kissing it time-to-time while batting, and Rahul Dravid, like the newly-married Indian bride, carefully putting his right foot first on the ground.
“Studies have shown that superstition can help us. It helps us focus. Players observe certain superstitions which help in their mental makeup. They carry out a certain ritual and after a point they start deriving confidence out of that act,” Parikh said.
Of course, there are those who tread the path of rationality. Bangalore-based Riddhima Reddy strongly opposes these ‘demented’ acts. “How can any sensible, educated human being believe in all this nonsense?” she asked with genuine concern.
But then take the case of the Madhya Pradesh legislator who stood erect from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the day of the India-Pakistan semifinal in Mohali so that the home team would win. And it did.
From the ridiculous to the utterly ridiculous, it’s all part of the game. Or is it?
(Mohita Nagpal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: anxieties, bhattacharya, bladders, entire match, himanshu, holy spirits, intense competition, irrational behaviour, loo, mental health department, mind games, mumbai, patriotic heart, repeat performance, rituals, superstitions, understatement, wankhede stadium, wicket, world cup