The Folk Beliefs : Omens
Omens are generally understood to mean the phenomena and objects which forecast coming events. A large number of Punjabis even today have a staunch belief in omens. For them the success or failure of a journey or enterprise depends upon the very first object that one encounters while setting out.
If one comes across a woman carrying a pitcher of water, a child, a gardener’s wife carrying a bunch of flowers, or a Sweeper, it is supposed to be a good omen.
If a man riding a horse, or a young man playing on a flute comes across, even then the success of the venture is supposed to be guaranteed. Out of birds and animals a partridge, chirping and flying on the right, and a donkey braying on the left are supposed to bring good luck.
On the other hand, a woman carrying an empty pitcher, a gardener’s wife with an empty basket, a Brahmin, a Maulavi, or a bald man bring bad luck. A lame, a one-eyed man, or an otherwise disabled person is not good. To see a smouldering object is supposed to be a very bad omen.
If a cat cuts across the path., there is absolutely no possibility of success in the undertaking. Meeting a snake is also bad, but if the snake is killed then the bad effect is warded off. If someone sneezes at the start of a venture, it is inauspicious, but two consecutive sneezes are good.
If a dog whines at night it portends death because a dog is supposed to be the attendant of Yama, and the moment it sees Yama it starts whining. If a dog lies on its back with its legs upwards, it portends a calamity. A cock crowing during the day is bad. Similarly, seeing an owl during daytime is unlucky. Bats are supposed to bring bad luck.
Some omens are associated with days and heavenly bodies. If the festivals of Holi, Lobri and Baisakhi fall on a Tuesday, it is feared that a serious catastrophe will befall the world.