Have you ever wondered about the many cultural rituals that people have and where they originated from or what the purpose is? Well science has proven to help explain some of the many rituals that we practice. Science helps explain why we do what we do and the benefits of doing said ritual. Below, I will list 9 rituals that have been explained by science. Please take a look to understand some of the most common rituals of our modern day.
1. Throwing Coins into a river – When we think of throwing a coin into a river or a fountain or a body of water, we typically associate it with attaining Good Luck. However, the scientific explanation is that in ancient times, most currency which was made of copper not stainless steel coins like today, would act as a vital metal for the human body. By throwing the coins into the river it would ensure that we intake a sufficient amount of copper as some of the river acted as a source for drinking water.
2. Namaste/Joining both palms together to greet others – Often when we think of this gesture we immediately think of the Hindu culture. We often associate this gesture with “Namaskar” which is a greeting of respect. The scientific reason for this gesture is that by joining both hands together you ensure a meeting of all pressure points. Joining the tips of all fingers together; which act as pressure points of the eyes, ears and mind, activates the pressure points which helps us remember the person we are meeting for a long time. Furthermore, this acts a defense mechanism for attracting germs since no physical contact is made with others.
3. Worshipping the Tulsi plant – The Tulsi plant, a very sacred plant in Hinduism, is recognized as a religious and spiritual plant. This plant has great medicinal properties and acts as a remarkable antibiotic. Ingesting Tulsi everyday in the form of a tea or other means helps increase ones immunity and help prevent disease, stabilize the health and overall prolong life. Also, keeping a Tulsi plant at home prevents insects and mosquitoes from entering the home and also it is noted that snakes avoid Tulsi plants at all cost.
4. Wearing a Toe ring – The significance of wearing a toe ring (for married Hindu women) is that the toe ring is typically worn on the second toe. This toe has a specific nerve that connects the uterus and passes to the heart. Wearing the ring on this toe strengthens the uterus. It apparently keeps it healthy by regulating blood flow while regulating the menstrual cycle. Back then most of these rings were made from silver and as silver is a good conductor it absorbs polar energies from the earth as they pass through and into the body.
5. Temples having bells – Most hindu temples around the world have a bell placed at the entrance or in front of a religious statue or idol. People visit these temples and are expected to ring the bell. According to religious beliefs, the bell is used to create a specific sound for warding off evil forces and making pleasant sounds for the Gods. The scientific reason is that the ringing actually clears our mind and helps us keep full concentration while praying. The sound these bells produce create a vibrational force in our brain that activates both parts of the brain, left and right sides. When the bell is rung it produces a sharp enduring sound which lasts for a minimum of seven seconds in echo mode. The duration of the echo is long enough to activate all seven healing centres of the body thus, emptying the mind from negative thoughts.
6. Worshipping the Peepal Tree – The Peepal Tree is commonly known as a useless plant, it doesn’t bare any fruits, it’s wood is not strong enough to be used for any purpose and only provides shade. However, this tree is highly regarded as sacred and many worship it. The main reason for its existence is that it is one of the only (or possibly even the only) trees that can produce oxygen even at night.
7. Applying Henna on the hand – It is a common practice in many cultures to apply Henna to the hand and feet before getting married. Besides giving a beautiful colour to the hands, Henna acts as a powerful medicinal herb. Weddings are often very stressful and as weddings approach many deal with stress which can lead to headaches, fever or overall anxiety. The application of henna can prevent stress as it acts as a cooling agent to the body and keeps the nerves from becoming tense. The hands and feet house these nerves that once cooled down can help reduce stress and anxiety.
8. Sitting on the floor and eating – The main purpose of this tradition is not for respect. The reason for sitting is to mimic the “Sukasan” position while eating. Sukhasan is a posture in Yoga that helps activate proper breathing. Sitting in this position while eating helps improve digestion as the circulatory system can focus solely on digestion and not on the legs dangling from a chair or supporting us while we stand and eat.
9. Why we shouldn’t sleep with our head facing North – The myth with this ritual is that it invites ghosts or death at your bedside when you sleep in this direction. Science explains that the human body has its own magnetic field because of the flow of blood. Earth acts as a giant magnet. When we sleep with our heads facing north, our body’s magnetic field become completely asymmetrical to the Earth’s magnetic field. This alignment causes problems related to blood pressure and our heart thus needs to work harder.