Friday the 13th: One of the incidents that shaped her belief in Friday the 13th, considered as an “unlucky” day and date, was when Anubhuti Vaid, a radio jockey, was returning home from work after doing a show on the same subject.
“I left office at around 6 pm to come home early but as soon as I crossed DND (flyway) that connects Noida-Delhi, the cab did not move. It had rained that day and everything was still. After waiting in the cab for almost an hour, I got on my foot. As the metro was not fully operational that year, I walked from Maharani Bagh till AIIMS. As soon as I reached AIIMS, I thought of getting to Qutab Minar Metro station and took an autorickshaw,” Vaid said.
However, much to her “disbelief”, the autorickshaw stopped at PTS (Police Training School) near Saket. There, she saw some women waiting for a cab. “I thought, if I could get a cab, I could manage the last metro of 11 pm. I was able to get the cab by 10:40 pm but it took approximately two hours to reach Qutab Minar Metro station because of the traffic. Finally, in the same cab, I was able to get to my place at around 2:40 am. All this happened in the year 2010,” recalled the RJ-turned-video producer.
“So, I genuinely blame that date,” she confessed.
Long considered a harbinger of hard luck, Friday the 13th has earned a bad name just like other superstitions including walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat or breaking a mirror or photo frame. This year of 2019 has two Friday the 13th, one today and another one in December.
Though it’s uncertain as to when it all began, negative superstitions have swirled around number 13 for centuries, particularly in Western cultures that have long associated the number 13 with bad events, or even death, unlike its predecessor number 12 which stands for completeness like 12 Zodiac signs or 12 months of the year.
As per Biblical tradition, it is believed that there were 13 guests who attended the Last Supper, held on Maundy Thursday which had Jesus and his 12 apostles out of whom Judas betrayed him. The next day was Good Friday when Jesus was crucified on the cross. The ill-fated seating arrangement and the crucifixion of Jesus on the following day, which was a Friday, could have also possibly given rise to the long-standing superstition.
However, Aditi Basu Roy, a school principal who celebrates her birthday on September 13, says, “According to Hindu calendar, ‘triyodashi’ (13th day) is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a day for happiness and prosperity. So, is Friday which is dedicated to the planet Venus and Guru Shukrachariya, the counsellor of Ashuras and mentor of Bhishma (Mahabharat). It also signifies clarity and lucidity. This year, my birthday happens to fall on a Friday, and I perceive it as a clear and transparent day which will bring happiness and prosperity,” she tells indianexpress.com.
While some like Vaid would like to tread with caution on the day, for many like Prateek Malik, it is a usual day like any other days of the week and dates of the month. “I didn’t even notice that it’s Friday the 13th until it was brought up in a discussion with a colleague in my school. She mentioned that we should be careful about planning for the day but I think no number or a day can be harmful to us. If we overthink about anything, positive or negative, it can affect us. In fact, I am travelling from Varanasi to Delhi on that day,” said 27-year-old Malik, who works as an assistant manager (academics and training) at Seth M R Jaipuria Schools, New Delhi.
Interestingly, it is widely known that MS Office skipped version 13 and moved from MS Office 2007 (version 12) to MS office 2010 (version 14). Notably, many house numbers, floor numbers, hotel room numbers, street addresses, sectors and residential towers exclude number 13. So much so that Bombay Stock Exchange does not have number 13 as a floor number, some airlines don’t have a row number 13, and Noida and Chandigarh don’t have sector 13.
Vignesh Raghupathy, 31, has an interesting take on the number. “If 13 is something that is spooky, then I must confess that I stayed on the 13th floor all alone for two years in Delhi and it was exciting. I have crossed so many Friday the 13th but nothing spooky has happened. It’s just another day,” said Chennai-based Raghupathy.
Concurred lawyer Aditya Gupta, who first heard the phrase while in school. “Faintly, I heard it in school. I don’t believe in it because I haven’t experienced anything bad in person. More so, I wish to be dictated by reason and not superstitions,” he told indianexpress.com.
Myth or not, Friday the 13th has inspired a lot of literature, including an early 20th-century novel, a horror film franchise and not one but two unwieldy terms — paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia — which describe fear of this supposedly unlucky day. As per Wikipedia, Frigg is the Norse goddess whom Friday is named after, and triskaidekaphobia means the fear of 13. It’s also known as paraskevidekatriaphobia, which is based on the Greek word for Friday.
In fact, the 1980-horror movie Friday the 13th of a hockey mask-wearing killer named Jason became so popular that it is considered one of the best-known films in pop culture history about superstitions. The movie’s popularity soared with multiple sequels, comic books and many terrifying Halloween costumes.
On this debate, Vaid responded, “It’s so strange that I love the film. But there are things that one cannot neglect and one such is Friday the 13th. I don’t believe in superstition but I do believe that there is no smoke without fire. It’s about the fact that it is unlucky.”
For Priyamvada Mangal, photographer and yoga coach, a day doesn’t make things “auspicious or inauspicious”. “Friday the 13th must have coincided with an inauspicious occasion in the past or in history and the media especially movie makers used it to their full advantage for making stories out of it. What you do, your actions and intent matter. And what you believe in is most important. If you have a negative outlook towards everything, you will react in a manner which gives out negativity – you might think it’s that day but it’s actually you. Same applies to keeping a positive mindset,” she advised.
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