13 is just another number, isn’t it?

I woke up today to realize it was Friday the 13th and didn’t give it another thought. However those thoughts were soon interrupted by constant Facebook/Twitter updates about how this was an unlucky day. While I’m a firm believer in making your own luck, I couldn’t help but notice the paranoia of my Facebook and Twitter friends.

What’s the big deal and what are we superstitious about?  While I’m sure that they are all just making a blank stab at this event that occurs about three times in a year and there is no deep rooted fear behind their updates, there are others that take this more seriously and have developed a condition called Triskaidekaphobia which is a true fear of the number 13 and all its superstitions.

Growing up in America has been confusing. There is no 13th floor, 13th seat at an event, many airports skip the 13th gate, or any indication that the number that comes after 12 and precedes 14 even exists. Fear based of number 13 is loosely tied to beliefs that haven’t been questioned like: 13 attendees at the last supper which led most people to believe that if you invited 13 people to dinner; one of the 13 would die. This belief was also held by our late President Roosevelt.  Other practice safe habits of driving carefully or avoiding ladder and studies conducted on Friday, the 13th have most often concluded that there are fewer accidents given everyone’s nature to stay home and practice caution.

The reason for my confusion stems from my beliefs. I’m a Sikh and for Sikh’s the number 13 is pronounced “tera” which means “yours.” This also means “I am yours, God.” The word “Waheguru” or “God” appears 13 times in the “Guru Granth Sahib” which is our holy book. Around the 13th of October is also the festival of lights celebration or Diwali which is an auspicious occasion in India where the whole country lights up and gives gift and bakes sweets. Diwali celebrates your inner light and extinguishes all evil and dispels all your demons. There is a Hindu belief that since it is celebrated on the 13th, it will also bring wealth.

Considering I’ve grown up with a belief distilled from positive energy and an auspicious meaning to the number 13, it’s hard for me to see this day as unlucky or unfortunate. Like I said earlier, we make our own luck. We can choose to be afraid or we can choose to embrace this like any other day.

Image courtesy of DaveBleasdale

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