The informant, NM, is a Junior at USC and my roommate. She was born in New York, later her family moved around the Midwest, and now they reside in Texas. Her mom and dad were born and raised in India and incorporated their heritage into their lives in America. Natasha grew up surrounded by Indian culture and Hindi practices, so she was taught many superstitions and folk beliefs that she has held with her.
NM-I have lots of superstitions!!
Interviewer- (laughs) Okay, well just pick your favorite.
NM- Okay well I don’t know if this is necessarily my favorite but it’s definitely the most bizarre. So, in India there is this superstition that if you clip your nails after the sun goes down you’ll have bad luck and misfortune brought into your home.
Interviewer-That’s so interesting and specific. Were you taught this as a child, and what was the reasoning or meaning behind it?
NM-Yes, it’s always just been unknown thing not to do that. I don’t know all the details behind it, but I know that it’s so that we don’t upset or disrespect one of the goddesses. She is supposed to come into your home at night and bless it.
The informant’s superstition is one that’s held sacred within the Hindu religion. The goddess that the belief references is, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and fortune. It is understandable that unsanitary things like fingernail clippings would be considered disrespectful to her and result in misfortune. This folk-belief could also be a function of safety and overall cleanliness. The belief has been around for a very long time, way before electricity. Thus, doing things like trimming your nails with whatever sharp instrument you had, with minimal lighting, could have realistically resulted in injury. Additionally, the societal fear of misfortune being brought upon your home as a result of uncleanliness could act as a form of accountability. This emphasis on cleanliness is a common theme within the philosophies of Hinduism.