Of wishing wells and wishing trees

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeits of our own behavior — we make guilty of our own disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars.”
These are Shakespeare’s words, who else could have such insight!!
And these words just had my mind racing at how easily we blame things on stars.
I don’t say that all astrology and astronomy is farce, but to what extent some people go to appease the stars-remember the voices of shani ka daan mahadaan heard everywhere on the streets of Delhi and people did drop coins into those bowls/thaalis with a diya burning and some oil, lest they are subject to the wrath of Shani. And how we give up on things, resigning to the destiny or fortune or kismet,and how the palm-readers, the tarot-card readers always thrive-they are in business, and how the holy ones exploit the simple people in the name of sun and stars and how the simple people go out of their way and take loans beyond their means to hold havans and give dakshinas.

And, however upright, scientific and educated we claim to be – most of us think twice before treading on a street which a cat has just crossed. And we refrain from looking at ourselves into cracked mirrors. And as kids, if we accidentally banged heads with somebody we would do it one more time, on purpose ,lest the black dog bite us.
And if we notice a stray eyebrow hair on somebody’s face we restore it to the owner, who wishes upon it and blows it away. And everyone knows the myths and lores about wishing upon a broken star.

And we all tie strings or pieces of cloth to tree branches in hope of getting our prayers answered. So every tree outside a durgah or a temple is laden with colorful wish knots tied by millions of simple aspirants, representing collective hopes of every age and background , from birth of a baby-boy to the end of a war and restoring world peace.

And its not just us Indians, the concept of a wishing well has its roots in the West- a well where, traditionally, wishes were thought to be granted, especially if coins were dropped into the water. And its not just a well and I have seen this in the US and also in Europe, every single smallest water body has loads of coins at the bottom of it – be it a fish pond in the zoo or the smallest fountain in a mall.
So every single plant becomes a sublime wishing tree and every small puddle of clear water enjoys the status of reverend wishing well.

4 thoughts on “Of wishing wells and wishing trees

  1. Gauri Gharpure

    i believe all these things are a fun way to break from routine.. the thing to keep a watch is when and if we cross the line and start clinging on to signs like a desperado..

    let me share with u a little thing tht happened some months back..

    there’s a temple in our building and one rare evening, i really felt like going there.
    there were two young girls sitting with a youngish pujari.. one of the two was asking about her exam results and she was so desperate, so dependent on the tales the pujari was weaving (he looked a pukka rogue) tht it did it for me.. i had decided i would give in some money beforehand, and so i did, but i have not felt like going back to the temple again. priests and temples are meant to show u the way, to liberate you, and not entice into one plausible situation from other…

    if you start clinging to signs like this, it’s time u start rethinking your equation with God..

    wonderful post, Sara.. i am sorry the comment got a wee bit lengthy..

  2. Mitr

    Modern or not I guess each one of us would have come across these beliefs..It is not restricted to just Indians…all one has to do is look for the clues – you will find superstitions/beliefs in every culture – as close as China or as distant as moon 🙂


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