8 Bizarre Superstitions of the Maldives
Our Dhivehi society is rich in good and bad omens, some have been discarded and forgotten while others have survived and can be heard today in casual conversations amongst friends and family.
*cue Stevie Wonder’s Superstition*
Here are some strange, comical and common examples:
1. Whilst today this would be regarded as a sign to immediately call pest control, in the olden days a nannugathi or garden snake seen regularly in a home suggests that the household is blessed with wealth and happiness. 2. You might have heard of the infamous eye tic. It is said that an irritating tic in the right eye of a man is a good omen and a tic in the left eye is considered a bad omen, and ladies pay attention; an irritating tic in the right eye of a woman is a bad omen and a tic in the left eye is a good omen.
3. Dragonflies and such insects flying in and out of a home warns of news from foreign lands and visitors. This superstition could have been influenced by the habits of the dragonflies themselves, as they are migratory creatures.
4. Geckos have always been known to have an ear for sensibility; the cluck of a gecko in the midst of two people conversing indicates the honesty of the person who was speaking at that moment.
5. Planting a coconut palm or more specifically a king coconut palm was no funny business, it is said that if a king coconut palm was planted in a house compound, it will lead to barrenness, and worse yet it is believed that if the plant's roots pierce the water table it will doom the one who planted it to death. Clearly this was no laughing matter.
6. White marks on your fingernails or skin peeling at the cuticles are signs that your enemies are plotting against you, or that you should get a manicure and take better care of your nails.
7. Nothing has been said for children born with congenital deformities, but a child born without any congenital deformities in mid Maa Nakaiy (Aug 11 - Aug 23) was believed without a doubt, to become a great personage of her/his times.
8. Last but not least, pigeons! Much has been said about these ruffians, these noisy thugs of our skies, terraces and balconies. It is said that if pigeons were to live with contentment in a home, that home will be blessed with peace and prosperity, however, if these pigeons become unhappy, or if they leave the home, bad luck will descend on the dwellers and the home will inevitably become uninhabitable. Perhaps a thing to keep in mind the next time you shoo away the pigeon picking at your garden plants.
Superstitions; odd, funny and at times eerie are likely rooted in our cultural beliefs, in how our ancestors navigated their lives and their natural environment. The sceptical influence of reason and science may bring an end to our superstitious island ways in time but till then let us delight in some good juju.