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India is plagued with unending superstitions around almost every facet of life, but when a person is pregnant, logic flies out of the window. Here is a taste of the bizarre superstitious rules most women endure.

black and white pregnant woman nude silhouette

I guess every place in the world has its share of superstitions, and pregnancy in India seems to be prime time. For entertainment purposes, here are some of them and some humorous and not so funny things I found out:

  • Don't eat papayas: This seems to be the most popular one, including with some doctors. Apparently, papayas cause contractions. This is based on the fact that raw papayas contain a latex (or something) that can cause contractions. However, there is nothing to say that these contractions are strong enough to cause an abortion in a woman unready to deliver. No special baby killing properties to them and particularly ripe ones, as a friend of mine found out, when she ate loads of the stuff when she got pregnant unexpectedly. She didn't want a baby that early into her marriage, and she didn't want the responsibility to abort. She is currently a happy mother of a healthy baby born at full term.
  • Don't eat mangoes, pinapples, etc: If they don't normally upset your digestion, go right ahead and have a blast.
  • Don't cut a whole watermelon: Apparently, it looks too much like a ripe belly to some women and they think its a bad omen.
  • Don't go out during an eclipse: That's an old one from when eclipses scared people enough to be thought evil.
  • Don't talk too much about feeling good or praise the baby, etc: Apparently it will jinx your stroke of good luck. More likely, you bore people to tears when you wax eloquent endlessly about your little miracle, and they need a way of shutting you up. Really, appreciating things puts you in a better mood, and encourages nicer things to happen. Don't see harm in that. In fact, I see a world of good.
  • Listen to this music or that and don't listen to this or that: Babies are well insulated in their comfortable cocoons, and really, loud music is probably the only stuff that reaches them. With all the racket of your heart and blood and uh... digestion around them, I doubt if the distant music is going to alarm them unduly. If it makes you happy, go ahead.
  • Pay attention to the words of the song/read religious texts: Probably a way to get you to remember God once in a while. I doubt if a baby is capable of understanding elaborate philosophy, or wicked words. All it probably gets is the sound of your voice and tones at the most. So go ahead, read the telephone directory lovingly if you wish.
  • Don't sit on the floor with both legs on one side: No clue how this one came up. Probably alarmed by the threat of you toppling off the floor.
  • Don't cut your hair: While orthodox Indians are disapproving of married women cutting their hair at the best of times, I was surprised to hear this from a well-educated and "westernized" friend who was convinced that it shortens the life-span of the child in the womb! Not that I'm planning on cutting my hair at the moment, considering how lush and shiny its getting, but this is plain ridiculous.
  • Don't cross your legs when you sit: I got this gem yesterday - apparently, if you do it really fast, you could loop the umbilical cord around the baby's neck like a lasso.
  • Eating a strawberry can make your baby get ugly birthmarks
  • Don't knit: No clue why, but all those films with the deaming of baby and knitting shots are plain wrong - something bad happens. I forget what.
  • Don't make a baby wardrobe or other baby preparations before it is born: Apparently it jinxes the baby or something. This is rather silly, because honestly, who has the time to go shopping for immediate baby needs after its born? The second trimester seems to be when the energy and time support this mission, but..... don't do it 😀 Possibly a hangover from the time when miscarriage and mortality was much higher, and intended to avoid the pain of looking at the stuff if something happened to the baby it was meant for.
  • Look at pictures of beautiful babies to produce beautiful babies: People are trying to give me random pictures of beautiful babies - some with lovely golden hair. Now, there's going to be a serious problem with the peace in our family if I get a blond child considering how we are all Indians, no matter how beautiful it is.
  • Death and crippled people or otherwise abnormal people/children can infect the spirit of the child: This one is plain ridiculous. I can understand that illness carries infection, or death/injuries can cause stress. I fail to see how seeing a Down's child (for example) can cause Downs in a healthy foetus.

And so on....

I'm sure you know your own treasure of such pearls of wisdom. Care to share?

For a long time, Kashmir has been a thrown in the sides of India, Pakistan and Kashmir. Countless men losing their lives, exhorbitant amounts of money spent, arguments, claims, hopes and anger. Its been pver 50 years. The issue is still on.

The world watches with bated breath as the two nuclear armed rivals try and figure life out and hope that the nuclear part of it remains in firmly in the capability rather than the use. It seemed hopeless for a long time. 3 wars, numerous hot moments and endless peace efforts later, no one really sees hope.

I remember being on a discussion forum, where the people of India and Pakistan were arguing desperately about how Kashmir belongs to them. Each side with strong versions of the "truth" and every option under the sky being pulled out for an airing.

I remember a comment I made that got me very strong hatred from my compatriots. I had said, "If it was within my power, and if it would bring peace, I would happily gift Kashmir to Pakistan." Regardless of the history, regardless of what is right, my heart bleeds for the people of the land who have forgotten what a normal llife is all about. Its ages since they have been able to trust strangers, seen a society without soldiers, or felt truly safe in their own land. But even if I could gift it, I couldn't bring happiness. There are people who want to be with India, there are those who would like to join Pakistan and then there are those who want independence. All of them can't be happy with my "gift".

It is true attrocities have been committed by both countries. By militants or by armed forces. It is true that Hindus and Muslims have both known a lot of fear and pain and death in this place. But that has already happened. We can choose to harp on about it, or to move on ensuring that it will not happen again.

For a long time I have even avoided thinking about Kashmir because of the helplessness I feel. I feel frustrated to see politicians sitting safely in Delhi and Islamabad and deciding the moves on the fates of those living the problem. Frustrated, because I haven't seen any result that will ease the situation of the Kashmiris.

Finally, I found a thread of hope. I came across this news article about Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan's visit to India and the progress made in the talks. For the first time, I found a no nonsense willingness to leave aside age old perceptions and assumptions and actually take things as they come from across the border. There is a trust that moves me with hope. I only hope that the Indian Government live up to this trust, and both countries build up on it to move toward a resolution on this festering sore.

I'm quoting the article here, Its worth a read:

ISLAMABAD: Faced with a volley of questions by an accusing Pakistan media over his reported statements during a visit to India, Kashmiri leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan stuck to his guns, saying the truth about cross-border militant training camps could not be hidden, nor could anyone find fault with his desire for peace in Kashmir, and that the United Nations resolutions were "obsolete."

Returning from New Delhi on Thursday, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir drove straight to meet the media in the capital, presumably to clear the air over his statements that have been slammed by Kashmiri Opposition parties here.

The ageing leader, also known as the First Mujahid, said it was "a fact that there were training camps [for militants] in Pakistan and in Azad Kashmir [Pakistan Occupied Kashmir]."

"Speak the truth"

"It was in the open. We cannot keep something like this under wraps. The Americans can give you all the details about these camps. These things cannot be kept hidden in this day and age. We should speak the truth, or we will be exposed as liars," Mr. Khan said.

But, the Kashmiri leader said, he had been misreported as saying these were "terrorist" training camps, while he had stressed the camps were for "freedom fighters."

He said he had also pointed out that President Pervez Musharraf had closed down the training camps and that there was no more infiltration into India. His purpose in India was to attend an intra-Kashmir "hear-to-heart" dialogue, where he asked for free movement of Kashmiris, intra-Kashmir trade and peace, Mr. Khan said.

"We have wasted 50 years in discussing a final solution, and got nothing in return but bloodshed and suffering for Kashmiris. There should be no more discussion on this. Rather we should focus on tackling the situation on the ground in Kashmir, where people are dying. If we focus on the process, improve the atmosphere, it will lead to the solution by itself," Mr. Khan said. "No one can disagree with my point-by-point demands for free movement, trade and peace."

Asked about Indian "inflexibility" to Gen. Musharraf's famous four-point proposals, Mr. Khan shot back, "They gave me a visa even though they considered me as enemy number one. Is this is not flexibility?"

Mr. Khan praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said he was on the right track towards finding a solution to the Kashmir issue. "My impression is that a good environment is being created for a solution to Kashmir, and to take the peace process forward, and the Indian Prime Minister is making all efforts. The round table conference discussed all the issues, and I think they are serious. They are working on demilitarisation, on opening of routes, so these are within the parameters suggested by President Musharraf," he said.

The APHC should have attended the New Delhi roundtable because no Kashmiri should refuse the opportunity to present his point of view, Mr. Khan said.

The U.N. resolutions on Kashmir were "obsolete." He pointed out they were only recommendations. "Do you want to keep harping about them until the last Kashmiri is killed?" he asked a reporter who questioned him on this.

When the reporters pressed him about India's "unyielding" stand, Mr. Khan urged Pakistanis to stop thinking of India "as a municipal committee" which had "not done this or that." Describing India as "10 times a bigger country," he said it would have to keep its "own commitments" in mind before taking any step and could not be pushed around.

He said there was no question of India "trapping" Pakistan in a peace process. "We fail ourselves on many occasions, and blame India for nothing."