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If you’ve been at the receiving end of a “gift” from birds flying above on a bright and sunny morning getting to work, you are not alone. You are among the estimated 1,50,000 of the total population on whom birds poop every year. The probability of getting bird poop on you is that low, and it’s equal to the chance of getting struck by lightning.
While some will cringe and fume at the thought of their expensive suits and silk tops ruined by guano, as bird poop is called, most consider it a sign of good luck. This is just one of those age-old beliefs handed down over generations that have become a part of local cultures and calling it a superstition would even be considered disrespectful by house elders.
So how did this superstition come into being?
To begin with, superstitions – if we were to call them that - do not have logical theories to support them. However, tracing the earliest origins of this superstition would lead one to Russia where it was considered lucky if a bird poops on you – based on the rare odds of being the one picked by a bird to be pooped upon amongst the numerous other people. This began to be considered as a sign of luck that led the chosen people to immediately purchase lotteries and wager other gambling bets.
The theory gradually gained credence globally as birds have always been emblematic of mystique and have carried a symbolic significance. Long before the advancements in science and technology, our ancestors usually looked at their natural surroundings and animals for explanations of events that were otherwise unexplainable. The mysticism around the birds due to their ability to fly made them the messengers of extraterrestrial power or manifestation of spirits, both good and evil, that traversed both worlds. So, when the bird followed you or you kept seeing the same bird, it was considered a sign that it was watching over you and protecting you. And when it pooped on you, it was considered a shower of blessing and a sign that heavens had chosen them to receive good fortune.
Why are there so many interpretations of this theory?
Just as any belief system, this too has been subjected to many interpretations to suit local value systems and personal preferences. Given the spiritual leanings in many Indian families, many people began to believe that a bird pooping on you is a sign from above for you to slow down and introspect on your life. The physical cleaning stage that follows a bird defecating on you symbolizes spiritual cleansing. This interpretation also found resonance in one of Kabir’s dohas where he spoke about learning the virtue of humility and acceptance if someone throws rubbish on you, just as the crow shitting on you. These qualities, he said, would help one in attaining their spiritual goals and achieve greater spiritual heights.
Believers of Vedic astrology too ascribed special significance to birds and bird poop. Bird poop landing directly on one’s head symbolized activation of planet Ketu as the planet Ketu lies right on the top of our head. Planet Ketu is associated with wealth houses like 11th and the 2nd which implies the possibility of financial gain - thus justifying a rush to wager bets such as buying a lottery ticket. Planet Ketu also represents moksha and enlightenment which suggests that bird poop landing on your head is a sign from above that your soul is going in the right direction.
Some associated it with learning to be positive in every situation. So, instead of sulking over a bad start to a day or a ruined suit, one should learn to see the silver lining in every adversity and choose instead to see it as a sign of good fortune to drive oneself confidently forward.
So, should you go chasing all birds in sight?
Apparently, not all birds possess the mystical allure and have the power to shower riches with their poop. The significance of each bird species varies based on different traditions. As per Vedic astrology, if certain birds like pigeons poop on your body, it would be considered a sign of good luck while crow poop landing on you signifies bad luck. However, in other cultures, a crow symbolizes excellent news associated with a guest or partnership. Getting pooped on by a crow is considered as an indication of a romantic encounter or the start of a new relationship.
The symbolic segmentation of birds is not based on their poop alone. Pigeons coming to your house is considered a sign of good luck. However, when the same pigeon starts actually living in your house by creating a nest, it is regarded as a sign of bad luck.
After all, it’s all about timing
While you may have just sighted the right flock of birds around the block, don’t start the chase to find a vantage spot below it just yet. The belief (or superstition) also places emphasis on the time of the day you are showered upon.
If you are pooped on in the early morning, it is considered a sign of positive changes happening in your life. If a bird poops on you around noontime, it is considered a sign of improvement in personal finances. Being a landing spot of bird poop during evening or night would symbolize medical condition or personal harm soon.
If you are the chosen one, is it all money & gold from here?
As much of a good luck one may consider it to be, bird poop has proven to adversely impact humans if adequate care is not exercised upon coming in contact with it. Birds feed on insects, eggs of other bird species, and poisonous animals like snakes and frogs. Hence, their excreta contain harmful components that impact adversely upon contact with the human skin. Bird poop contains a fungus called cryptococcus which can cause severe infections. A bacterium called salmonella is also commonly found in bird poop that can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and weaken the immunity system. In a study by Madras Veterinary College, it was found that 90% of the crow poop samples collected by them contained up to four different genera of parasites that could infect humans who come in contact with it. When bird poop is wiped or brushed off with hands, chances of infection remain even if the hands are washed because the microscopic eggs of the parasites the birds fed on could remain lodged in the human nails. Medical experts suggest that the only way to prevent infection is to wash the area that has come in contact with the dropping, as well as the hands and nails, very thoroughly for up to 3-5 minutes.
Well, this is all that there is to it. Such time-honored practices are like stones that were rolled down the mountains thousands of years ago and have gathered a lot of moss around them. As with every non-scientific belief system, it is eventually up to you to either embrace and pass it down to your progeny or discard it just as folklore and stop using it as indicators of your life path.
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