[Ed.: The following is an article by Pastor Jyothi Benjamin, in his own words, about the prevalence of superstition in India. Pastor Benjamin is president of the Church of the Lutheran Confession in India (CLCI). The report is lightly edited for clarity.]
Two thousand twenty-two years after the birth of Christ, Christianity still remains as an unknown entity to the main core of the population of India because of the pagan beliefs and evil superstitions. There are 1.4 billion precious souls here in India for whom Christ died, but more than half the Indian population literally thrives on baseless weird superstitions, most of which simply defy logic.
Here are a few examples of superstitious beliefs in India:
- Banyan trees are considered to be the dwelling of ghosts and evil spirits.
- The lemon and chili charm is a regular sight in India and wards off the “goddess” who brings poverty and bad luck.
- Putting a small black dot of kajal on the forehead will protect a child from the evil eye.
- A black cat crossing the road symbolizes bad luck.
- A crow cawing indicates that guests are arriving.
- A single sneeze before beginning of any work brings bad luck.
- One shouldn’t sweep floors in the evening because it drives away wealth from the home.
- Bad luck will befall anyone who hears an owl hoot three times. People believe that owls are the only creatures that live with ghosts.
Recently we visited a remote village in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh State, and I preached on the topic of “Jesus casting out the demons.” I explained to the villagers that Jesus comes into this world to defeat Satan and every demonic force of our world. Because of our loud PA system all the villagers heard the Gospel and many people received the Word of God and believed that Jesus has power to save. On the last night, one man came to the dais for individual prayer. I prayed for him, but strangely he requested me to visit his house to pray for his family also. I visited his home along with him. While entering into his house I saw a string of lemon and chilies hanging in the doorway. I followed him silently through that doorway. I asked him what his prayer request was. He said that his family is fearful because of the banyan tree which is beside his house. He said that he wants Lord’s protection for his family from that very big banyan tree. Also, I observed a black dot on the forehead of his six-month-old child. I understood that that family is suffering from evil superstitions. I felt so sad to see their belief in superstitions.
Sadly, many Indian Christians continue to cling to superstitions because of their strong Hindu background. Superstition gives them a false sense of control over their lives. Many of the superstitions are driving people away from Gospel truth, causing people to rely on superstitions instead of relying fully on our all-sufficient Jesus.
That night I used many Bible passages to convince that family that they do not need to worry about superstitions, and they should not give them importance. Finally they came to believe that Jesus is fully in charge of their lives.
CLCI pastors and evangelists often face challenges in their evangelism because of these powerful village superstitions. The CLCI is working hard to eradicate the influence of these pagan superstitions in our church members’ lives. From the bottom of our hearts we convey our heartfelt thanks to the CLC missionaries who have been helping us through their teachings to overcome these evil superstations. We request you all to pray for us to spread the gospel here in India; to bring hope, grace, and salvation to these millions of people. Thank you!