Friday, October 13, 2006

Paraskevidekatriaphobes beware!

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is a phobia, as the name suggests, or fear of Friday the 13th. It’s a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, which is fear of the number "13". So if you are the type who thinks a black cat crossing the street in front of you is bad luck, you better watch out today, Friday, the 13th of October 2006, because this my friend, is doomsday for you.

Out of a 6800 figure on the website I referred to, 56% people claim they are not fearful of this day, while 17% may not even go to work today, especially in the United States. The website has dedicated four pages to the history of Friday the 13th, which proves that in today's age of media hype and fiction-turned-fact [or vice versa], people can believe and be affected by almost anything.

But I'm curious to know, what is the real reason for people to fear this day? For me, it’s just another Friday, and Fridays - both in Christianity and Islam - are considered significant days.

In Islam, the Friday prayer for Muslims all around the world is deemed the most important prayer of the week - so much so that if a Muslim misses more than three Friday prayers consecutively, he or she is considered out of the realm of Islam. A person who dies on a Friday is considered to be among the favorites of God, more so if the Friday falls in the holy month of Ramadan. It could be noted here that the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] died on the last Friday of Ramadan, 632 AD.

Then for Christians there is Good Friday - the day Christ was crucified. The Tower of Babel was built by all humans unitedly to reach the heavens but it could not be completed because God stopped their efforts by giving people different languages; so they could not communicate to collaborate and their work was halted, on a Friday. The Temple of Solomon was also destroyed on a Friday. Also, according to Christian lore, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit on a Friday.

Both Hindus and Vikings reportedly have/had a myth in which 12 gods were invited to a gathering and Loki, the god of mischief, crashed the party and incited a riot. Tradition in both cultures holds that 13 people at a dinner party is bad luck and will end the death of all the party-goers. Coincidently, the Last Supper in Christian tradition hosted 13 people out of which one betrayed the Christ, which resulted in the crucifixion.

It was the same date as today - Friday, the 13th of October, but the year 1307, when King Philip IV of France had the Knights Templar rounded up for torture and execution. As Dan Brown has mentioned in Da Vinci Code, the Knights Templar were an order of warriors within the Roman Catholic Church to combat Islam in the centuries after the Christian Crusades. They branded together to protect Christian travelers visiting Jerusalem. [So Dan Brown was mixing fact with fiction? Hmm...]

The ancient Egyptians believed that life unfolds in 12 stages, the 13th one being death. I don't see how "death" and "bad luck" could be co-related, since my belief, along with many others, is that life after death is the eternal life - the ultimate journey. The Egyptians themselves longed for this spiritual transformation that was death, thus 13 was not an unlucky number in their culture at least.

There's the tale of the ship, "H.M.S. Friday" that set sail on a Friday: "They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday, selected her crew on a Friday and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday, and was never seen or heard from again."

In addition to the legendary significance of Fridays, the sixth day of the week also was execution day in ancient Rome and later Hangman's Day in Britain, according to the website.

It is said that the Moon has always been associated with feminity, which is why the number of lunar months equals the number of menstrual cycles in a year; the number being 13.

Well I must say after all this speculation, I am not deterred in thinking that this Friday the 13th would be any different from my last year's so-called unlucky day: Friday, May 13th - I did not encounter any more bad luck than I usually do on a normal day. You might ask, "What are all these facts and figures you mentioned above, cosmic coincidences?" Well, I can't be too sure, but I think it is up to each and every individual to decide on his or her own whether all these events are collectively negative or positive - some may view death as being unbidden whereas others may see it as the end of an unbidden life. Maybe this day brings me bad luck too - after all, Fridays are holy days when I should go to the mosque and pray, and at the same time Friday nights are party nights - they lead on to the much-yearned-for weekends.

However, one thing is certain - I will not let my life be affected by this or any other "Friday the 13th" tremor. But if my wedding date falls on the 13th and coincides with the sixth day of the week, I'll reschedule, just to be on the safe side.


1 comment:

farheen said...

Nice I like the individual concept cause I think everyone have their own bad luck day every year but dates might change every year.