Text: If you pass a sharp object such as a knife or scissor without placing it on a flat surface, it means a bad omen

Context: “Anytime I go back home to India and I’m passing cutlery or like silverware to my friends, specifically a knife or a sharp object, they always tell me to place it on a flat surface or like a surface before they take it, just because if I pass it to them directly, there’s a myth that I’m gonna have a fight with them or they’ll walk out of my life or something bad and negative will happen to them.” This is what my friend told me when I interviewed him. He’s Indian and his friends back home believe in this, but although he doesn’t believe in this, he’s forced to follow this tale. On the positive side, he said that his friends’ beliefs about this make him question if there is “another force in the universe.”

Analysis: This folklore tale delves into deep cultural and interpersonal dynamics. This practice, while seemingly rooted in superstition, underscores a broader cultural wisdom emphasizing caution and respect in human interactions. It resonates with Ülo Valk’s insight that folkloric entities are “shaped by the perspectives…of storytellers” (Valk 31), suggesting that such tales reflect communal values and the social fabric of a culture. Similarly, Domino Renee Perez’s observation that folklore figures like La Llorona “wield power by making often incomprehensible choices” (Perez 155) highlights how folklore governs individual actions, even beyond personal belief. This tale, therefore, is more than a superstition; it’s a ritualistic expression of mindfulness and a nod to the collective wisdom that guides social conduct. It connects individuals to their cultural heritage, fostering a sense of continuity and respect for the unseen forces that shape human relationships. Moreover, this tale interestingly highlights the permeation and resilience of cultural beliefs through social networks and friendships, even among individuals who may not personally subscribe to these beliefs. My friend’s adherence to this practice, despite his skepticism, underscores the compelling nature of cultural norms and the respect for the beliefs of others within one’s community.