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In Indian households, leaving home for something important like an exam or job interview is almost always preceded by 3 specific rituals – praying before God's idol, seeking blessings of the parents and grandparents, and eating a bowl of curd and sugar. While seeking the blessings of the lord and parents is understandable, eating curd and sugar left many of us bewildered. Our doting mothers endorsed this as an equally necessary ritual as it was meant to bring good luck. Many Bollywood movies and advertisements have since immortalized this ritual and sealed its place in India's folklore.
So how did this superstition come into being?
Generally, superstitions have their origins rooted in logistical or environmental compulsions of the times they originated in. The ritual of eating curd and sugar before leaving home for something important has medicinal origins that are partly responsible for its sustained practice over time. The earliest reference of this practice was in the days of the maharajas, who used to have curd and sugar before leaving for war. They considered curd as a harbinger of good luck and used sugar as a source of instant energy.
Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old pseudoscientific alternative medicine system has references to the benefits of consuming curd and sugar and gives credence to this age-old practice. According to Ayurveda practitioners, the curd is a Kapha-vardhak food. In a tropical country like India where body temperatures are relatively higher, curd has a cooling and de-stressing effect on the body and mind. Sugar supplies glucose to the brain which can help raise one's energy levels.
In situations such as exams and job interviews, stress levels are generally higher, and the combination of curd and sugar helps sustain the energy levels and improves concentration. This has a positive influence, however little, on one's overall performance in the exam or interview. Over time, the benefits of this food combination in improving one’s metaphysical being took on a ritualistic fervor and led to the populist custom of it being a harbinger of good luck.
While the medicinal benefits of eating curd and sugar as advocated by Ayurveda remain, we need to remove our blindfolds and stop fooling ourselves into believing this to be a charm of good luck. Students, particularly need to be reminded that no lucky charm can substitute hard work and smart work. A healthy and well-balanced diet is as important, and they needn't rely solely on supplementary foods.
Our progeny who will be growing up in a technologically advanced world need to be devoid of unqualified superstitious beliefs and make informed choices based on facts as much as possible. It is up to us to introduce them to that world and for that, the change needs to begin with us. So, the next time we feed curd and sugar to our sons and daughters, they needn't be looking at it as an ingredient of good luck but only as a potent food that is just as sweet as their parent's send-off smile.
Readers are advised to consult a medical doctor before consuming either curd or sugar to avoid any potential adverse effects.
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