As Friday the 13th approaches, most Americans are avoiding black cats, mirrors, walking under ladders, opening umbrellas inside, stepping on cracks, and other superstitious events. While making our own preparations, our Norman office was curious about superstitions in Pakistan and set out on a spooky quest for answers. We found that while some of them were very similar to ours, there are also a few new to us.
First, we talked to our Digital Graphic Designer, Irshad A, about one of his favorite superstitions—leaving any book open and then walking away. The theory is that the devil will read it while you are away.
“Whenever I’m enjoying a novel and I leave my reading table to take a break, I’m reminded of my grandma telling me: ‘Close the book, son, or you will find Satan reading when you come back!’ It still kind of freaks me out. Although I’m not a superstitious person, I double check that I closed the book before I get up!”
There are quite a few superstitions regarding dreams. For example, if you dream about buffaloes or horses, it is supposed to represent bad luck heading your way, particularly that someone you know is going to die. It is also said that if you have a dream about snakes, an enemy is after you. On the positive side, if you see a deceased relative in your dream, it is a good sign! According to some of our team members, it can either mean that you will live longer or that someone you know will get married.
Do you like birds? There are superstitions for you, too! If you are having a bad day, releasing a bird into the air is supposed to have a calming effect. You can purchase these birds from vendors on the street and then set them free whenever you wish. This represents bad feelings and spirits leaving your body. Another related superstition is geared towards travelers. Throwing meat outside of your car while you are on the outskirts of town is supposed to bring good luck. The surrounding birds will supposedly flock to eat the meat and this will grant you safe travel for your journey.
Jibran Z, HR Manager, remembers a popular Pakistani bird superstition from his grandmother. If you see a black crow standing on the wall of your home, you will receive guests.
“She used to point to a crow sitting on our wall and say, ‘see the crow sitting there? We will be having guests shortly, so you better wear nice clothes and behave well.’ She would cook a bigger meal on days when she saw the crow. Most of the time, this proved to be true!”
Hoping for extra money? Just wait until your palm itches! There is a saying, “Itch in the right palm? I’m about to get rich!” Nabeel I, our Director of Development, explained this more to me: “If you get itch in your right palm, soon you will get money. If you have itch on the left palm, then you might lose money soon.”
There is also the infamous superstition involving black cats, similar to the well-known American superstition. If you are walking and a black cat crosses your path, it signals bad luck and bad things will happen to you. Many people will turn around if they see a black cat crossing their projected path.
Other superstitions in Pakistan include the belief that breaking a glass will bring good luck, doing housework in the evening will ward off evil spirits, and that its bad luck to start a business on a Tuesday. (Although, Allshore was created on a Tuesday!)
I’ve found that while superstitions may vary greatly between cultures, there are still some major similarities, too. By learning what other cultures believe in, we are able to gain a great sense of who people are. Plus, we learn about different things we should be on the lookout for!
Best of luck on your Friday the 13th!