‘Dravidian Tamil’ Superstitions about Sneezing and Lizard Chirping (Post No.3236)


Written by London Swaminathan


Date: 9 October 2016


Time uploaded in London: 19-31


Post No.3236


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.


Contact swami_48@yahoo.com




Tamils have superstitions about sneezing, crows, lizard chirping and fluttering of eyes. It is seen in 2000-year-old Sangam Tamil literature.


Tamil Panchang (traditional calendars with Hindu festival days etc.) has got two pages devoted to Pancha Pakshi Shastra (Prediction by Five Birds) and Lizard Predictions. Nobody has done any scientific research into it to prove it or disprove it. The Bird astrology divides the day into five parts allocating one each to vulture, owl, crow, cock and peacock. Actually there is more to it. They tell you what would happen depending upon the nature of flights of birds. It is an interesting area for research students. Brhat Samhita of Varahamihira gives information about wagtail bird predictions.

If we go to the Lizard astrology page, the Panchang divides it into two parts. It tells you what would happen if a lizard falls on you and if the lizard calls (makes sound). It tells you something good or bad would happen depending upon the part of the body it touches or the direction of the sound. Big tabular columns are in the Panchang for birds and lizards predictions.


Lizards in Tamil Sangam Literature
The sound made by the lizards served as omens for the Tamils. Sangam period Tamil poet Kavan mullai putanar says,” the lizard on the Kalli tree makes its characteristic tickling sound and is taken as predicting the events to the wayfarers (Agam 151). Another poet says that the travellers paused a while hearing the tickling sound of the lizard (Agam 387). Even wild animals followed lizard sounds! A boar was just about to enter a millet field, but it went back on hearing the tickling sound of the lizard (Agam 186).
More references:–Agam 9, 151, 289, 387; Narrinai 98, 169,3 33, 9.

Fluttering Eyes


Flutter of eyes also is taken into account to find what is going to happen next. This is supported in Sanskrit literature as well. Tamils are not alone in it. One thing is common in all these strange predictions. Left is good for women and right is good for men. Probably the logic for this is Ardhanari principle of Lord Shiva, i.e. Shiva’s left side is shared by Parvathy. Bible also supports it by saying the woman is made from the left rib of man (For more, please read my Sanskrit in Bible posts)


Sneeze in Tamil Veda Tirukkural


If a person sneezes they say “Bless you” in western countries. Actually it started in India. We say Dirgayush (Long live). We have enough proof for this in Tamil and Sanskrit literature.

Tirukkural, the most famous book of the Tamils, says in Chapter FEIGNED:

When I continue to be receding, he sneezed and thought I would then wish him long life (Kural 1312)

I sneezed; “Live long”, she blessed. Then suddenly she wept saying, “You sneezed thinking of some other lady” (Kural 1317)

I stifled my sneeze. She wept saying, “Is it to hide from me the thought of thee in the mind of thy beloved” (Kural 1318)

This is based on the belief that you sneeze when someone who loves you thinks about you. If some sneezes then the Tamils wished them long life, says Tiruvalluvar in his Tirukkural. Even number and odd number of sneezes also make big difference. Even number of sneezes is good.


My Earlier Posts:-

Beware of Wagtail Birds: Prediction by Varahamihira!

Article No.1661; Dated 19th February 2015.

DIVINATION in The Vedas, Babylonian and Etruscan

Research Article No.  1792; Date: 10th April 2015


I want to add what Arthur Miles say about these superstitions in his book:-


Lizard Chirps
“Superstition plays an important part in daily life. The chirping or fall of the lizard; the shadow of a bird in flight; the flutter of a leaf; the first object one sees when awakening in the morning; are of the utmost importance in the sense of superstitious observance.


The lizard formula is so long and complicated that I wonder how any Indian can remember it. Everything depends upon the number of chirps, and the direction from which they come. As it is not unusual for two or more lizards to be chirping from different directions at the same time, deductions become rather involved. If a lizard chirps twice from the south-east on Monday, it portends rebellion. On Friday, however, the meaning is that the hearer will be decorated. The chirps which on Tuesday indicate enmity, on Saturday denote relationship with a new woman.


The lizard is a courageous little reptile, and to avoid danger or to escape from a palm squirrel, he will not hesitate to throw himself from a rafter to the floor. His fall augurs good or evil, to whoever happens to be underneath. If he falls on one’s head it means death; if on the eyes, it indicates prison. It is lucky if he falls on the forehead or the right arm, for this means coronation or general good health. Falling on the lips or chin is not so good, since there is a chance of losing money or of receiving priestly punishment. On the left arm the fall means great sexual enjoyment, but should it fall on the penis one will suffer penury and want. These are only a few of the lizard superstitions.


Another indication of good or bad influences is contained the sneeze. Should one sneeze but once it indicates failure but sneezing twice is decidedly auspicious. There are employed a number of absurd antics in order to produce the second sneeze.


Some friends and I were sitting under a tree in my garden in Mysore, when a leaf fluttered down. Before it could alight on a lady’s shoulder an Indian surgeon, attached to a regiment stationed in the district, diverted it so that it fluttered to the ground. To do this he jumped up, and overturned a small table. The Surgeon explained that we were sitting under a tamarind tree, which in itself was a very unwise thing to do. After examining the leaf, however, his face lighted up and a smile displaced apprehension. When he had apologized for turning over the table, he told the lady that nothing disastrous would have happened even if the leaf had touched her, as it was not a dead one. Had it been a dead leaf, some dire calamity, which nothing could avert, would have followed.


A caste of Tamil artisans pays particular attention to what they see in the early morning, especially on their New Year’s Day. The women make it their duty to ensure on New Year’s Day their husbands, on waking, see only objects of good omen. Ashes, firewood, and oil, being unlucky, are carefully screened from view. (Fruits, gold coins, flowers, mirror, new clothes are arranged on a plate; they are considered good)


Unlucky Seven! Koravas Supestition!

The Koravas watch for omens before starting out on one of their house breaking expeditions.

Water standing perfectly still is a good omen, but it is unfortunate to see widows, pots of milk, a bull bellowing, or a dog urinating. On the other hand, it is very lucky to hear a bull bellowing at the time of the criminal operation.


The number seven is considered ominous, and a burglary expedition seldom consists of seven men. It is even unlucky utter the number seven. A man who has just been released from jail, or a newly married man, is unlucky for criminal excursions. Should the number seven be unavoidable when starting out, the house-breaking instrument is considered the eighth member of the gang.


The women of this caste resort to divination, if their husbands are sometime absent and they fear the men have been apprehended. A long strand is pulled out of a broom, and at one end of it are tied several smaller strands, which have been dipped in oil. If the strand floats in water, there is no need to worry but if it sinks, the wife starts out at once to find her husband.


The eighteenth day of a month is the luckiest day for committing crimes. A successful criminal adventure on this day is sure to be followed by good luck. Sundays, while they auspicious for weddings, are unlucky for crimes. Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are unlucky until the afternoon for the beginning of burglary, as is also the day of the new moon. Fridays are not suitable for breaking into the homes of Brahmans.


Khondh Tribe’s Superstitions!
If a Kondh meets a woman, whether married or unmarried, when he is starting out on a hunting expedition, he will turn back. He will then make a fresh start, waving every woman that he meets out of his way. If a Kondh woman is menstruating, her husband, sons and brothers will not hunt game until her period is over. The men believe that they will come across no animals at such a time. The Kondh will not kill a crow because it would amount to killing a friend. According to one of the folk tales of the caste, soon after the creation of the world there lived a family of an aged man, a woman, and five children. Plague carried off the children one after the other in quick succession, and the parents being too old and too poor to take the necessary steps for the cremation of the bodies, they were obliged to throw them on the ground a little distance from their home. Vishnu then appeared to them one night in a dream, and promised to create the crow so that it might devour the dead bodies.

tiger-seal-3  tiger-seal

Picture: Tiger Goddess of Indus Valley

Superstition of the Aborigines

Many of the aborigines believe that they can transform themselves into tigers or snakes. Half the soul is supposed to leave the body, and in the guise of a tiger or snake it kill an enemy or satisfy its hunger by feeding on cattle in the jungle. During this time such people are said to remain dull and listless, and to shirk any sort of work. It is also believed soul wanders during sleep, when it may enter the body of a tiger or some other wild animal.


(Foreigners say that all the dark skinned people are Dravidians which is not correct)








Human Sacrifice practised by the Kondhs! (Post No3225)


Compiled by London Swaminathan


Date: 7 October 2016


Time uploaded in London: 6-01 AM


Post No.3225


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.


(Following is a piece from Arthur Mile’s book about the customs of the Kondh Tribes whom he described the DRAVIDIANS!)

The Kondhs live in dread of witchcraft, and are for ever watching for signs of it. In this connection the Madras Police Report records a case in the Vizagapatnam hill districts. The younger of the the three brothers died of fever, and when the body was cremated the upper portion did not burn. The surviving brothers therefore concluded that death had been caused by the witchcraft of a certain Kondh, and they attacked the man and killed him. After cutting their victim’s body into halves, they took the upper part to their village and threw it on the spot where the deceased brothers body had refused to burn. For their crime they were arrested and sentenced to death.


When cholera breaks out in a village, they smear their bodies with pig’s fat which has been liquefied and they continue to do this until the disappearance of the epidemic. It is believed that the cholera Goddess is driven away by the smell of the fat. They also attempt to prevent the approach of the goddess by barricading the paths to the village with ditches, which they fill with thorns and pots stinking oil.



Friendship Oath!

The Kondhs have a friendship oath, which in some way resembles the blood covenant of the Hebrews. Friendship is sworn on sacred rice, which has been consecrated to the god of Jagannath of Puri. Pilgrims visiting Puri get a quantity of this rice, and distribute it to those who ask for it. It is supposed that one cannot utter a lie, or have an evil thought, while holding the rice in the hand. Instances are known of friendship, sworn on the rice, being contracted between towns-men and the poor village peasants; even between a Brahman woman and a Sudra servant. Bound by such friendship, two people allow no festival to pass without an exchange of presents the house of one presents, and no ceremony goes on at the house of one unless the other is invited. If one party dies, the survivor does not consider the bond disconnected but continues to make gifts to the family of the deceased. This friendship is called songatho, and it increases with the barbarity of the division. Among the wilder tribes there are splendid examples of Songatho which have lasted for generations. One hill tribe takes an oath on a leopard’s skin, or while holding a peacock feather in the hand.


Origin of the Kondhs
The legend of the origin of the Kondhs is a story of human sacrifice.

In the beginning, when the ground was all wet, there were only two women living on the earth, and in due course each one was blessed with a son. The two women and their children came from the interior of the earth, bringing with them two plants which were their food. One day, when one of the women was cutting one of the plants, she accidentally cut her finger and the blood dropped on the ground, and instantly the wet earth became dry. The woman cooked the plant and gave it to her son to eat, who asked her why it tasted so much sweeter than usual. She told him that she did not know, but that that night she expected to have a dream and would let him know. The next morning the woman made her son promise to do as she told him if he would prosper in the world. He must forget that she was his mother, and cut flesh from her back and bury it in the ground. This her son did, whereupon the wet soil dried up and became hard, and the animals, trees, and birds came into existence. A partridge then scratched the ground, and millet and rice grew.


The two brothers agreed that, as the sacrifice of the woman brought forth abundance from the ground, they must sacrifice a human being once a year. A god by the name of Boora Panoo, together with his daughters, came to live with the brothers, and, marrying the daughters, the brothers begat children. When the children grew up, there was a dispute as to which one should be sacrificed, and, not being able decide the point, the brothers sacrificed a monkey instead. The goddess of the earth in consequence was very angry, and ordered the proper offering of a human being. The two men sought for ten years for a victim, and finally they found a man with a son five years old. They bought the son from the father, with permission to sacrifice him.


The boy was fettered to prevent his running away, toddy was made from grain, and a post was erected at which a pig was sacrificed. Two days before being offered the boy was tied to the post. On the night before the sacrifice the priest took a stick and poked it into the earth until the earth god answered, and round the hole from whence the goddess had spoken, pieces of wood were arranged lengthways and cross ways and an egg was placed the on the sacrificial day the boy was conducted to the wood, made to lie on it face downward. Pieces of flesh were then removed from his back, and buries at the caste’s place of worship. While other portions were put into the ground near  a drinking well to increase the water. The remainder of the corpse was burnt on the pile of wood. On the next day a buffalo was sacrificed, and a feast given.


The following verse (which was intended to be uttered over human sacrifice) is now recited by the Janni (priest) at the buffalo sacrifice. Come, male slave, come, female slave, what do you say? What do you call out for? You have been brought, ensnared by the Haddi. You have been called, ensnared by the Domba. What can I do, even if you are my child? You are sold for a pot of food





Hair Styles of the Tribes and Castes of India (Post No.3208)


Nayars of Kerala

Compiled by London Swaminathan


Date: 1 October 2016


Time uploaded in London: 21-20


Post No.3208


Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.


Contact swami_48@yahoo.com



From Arthur Miles book , “The Land of the Lingam” , Year 1933


Kondhs Hair Style

Both men and women among Kondhs paid much attention to their hair,decorating it with flowers and huge pins made of deer horn. Young girls wear pieces of broom in their ears until they are married, but once married they adorn themselves with as many  earrings as their husbands can afford.




Hair Style of Nayar women (Kerala) 


The Nair women are the most beautiful women in India. Their bodies, with very few exceptions, would cause a sculptor to take out his sketch book and sharpen his pencil. They wear very little clothing, but what they do wear is frequently washed and changed. Their hair never looks greasy as other Indian hair, and they wash it frequently with the pods of saponaceous plants. Their skin is their great pride, and any eruption on it considered a disgrace. They wear no head dress, but often decorate their hair with flowers. They mutilate their beauty in but one way –the lobes of their ears are dilated with pieces of metal. Contrary to the usual custom, they have their nose ring in the left nostril and they wear many gold bracelets and finger rings. A favourite talisman consists of the hair from an elephant’s tail, plaited and worn on the wrist.




Lama woman

Maali’s (Gardners) Hair Offering


Once the Maali returned without hair on his head or face and looking like a plucked chicken. A few days later, while planting a bed of dahlias he told us the why and wherefore of his denuded condition. A poor family, who have little to give to the gods, will promise the hair of their child. The child is then brought up with this promise in mind, and the sacrifice is made. It is, however, a sacrifice where the poor feel that they can at least offer as much as the rich, and give prodigally of the hirsute offering.


This sacrifice is especially meritorious when made by a woman, who has to face her friends and relations shorn off the beauty she has nurtured and trained with so much care. What becomes of the hair is the secret of the Brahman priests but in the temple of Palani near Madura and in the temple at Tirupati , one can always see sufficient quantities to keep the European markets busy for years. Sleeping on a hair mattress in England, one cannot help casting one’s mind back to the temples of India.





Parting of Woman’s Hair and Sakti Principle 


To illustrate the far fetched meaning dragged into every act of daily life, I quote the following by an Indian writer, because it bears on the Sakti


Written in 1926………


The Hindu ladies in southern India wear their hair parted by a furrow on their crown of head. What is this custom due to?


Ladies in different countries wear their hair arranged in different ways. Some wear it in a single pig tail while others are in two or more pigtails and so on. A large quantity of curl paper is made use of in the countries of the West to give the hair an artificial curl in place of one denied by Dame Nnature. But the Hindu ladies wear their hair parted on the crown a line running from front to back. In the case of grownup and aged dames , the hair is simply gathered in a knot,

Whereas young girls and women wear it in a single pig tail. But everyone wears it parted on either side leaving furrow like streak of skin exposed on the crown of the head…,

Like every other Hindu custom this also followed with a particular significance attached to it. A woman symbolises Sakti or Power. There is also a myth emphasising this statement. Siva, one of the Hindu Trinity, was once conceited and thought he was the all in all. His wife, Uma , wanted to teach him that without her help , he would be able to achieve nothing. With this object in view She, who was always with Him and in Him, left him for a while. Siva all on a sudden felt himself deprived of all his strength and energy to activity! He was lying in a precarious condition, unable even to stir when his wife there. He prayed to her to lift him up. She told him that he might try to stand up without her help, as he could not do so he had to acknowledge her position as Sakti.


After a lot more of the same, the author says, this is the reason why Sakti is assigned a very important place in every form of worship and in temples “……….


When once this fact is grasped the custom of leaving a furrow on the crown of woman’s head parting the hair into the right half and the left half will be intelligible. It symbolises the radiation of the positive and the negative energies from a central place…..,”


The furrow…represents in a masterly manner this completion of the circuit between two mighty positive and negative centres, resulting in the mental plane in the formation of the universe in the beginning, to be later on crystallised and materialised into the coarser world we see ………”


The writer of the above evidently became a little involved. But let us hope that when a woman has got away from the pigtail stage and furrows her hair properly, she will understand the completion of the circuit between two mighty positive and negative centres.





Widows hair style

Brahmin widows shave their head and cover it with her saree. A particular colour saree, like ascetic s saffron robe, is worn them ;but this is not practised anymore.Among the Tamil Vaishnavites, Tenkalai Vaishnavites are forbidden to cut their hairs.