Superstition, when it comes to animals, is indeed strange. While some (read cows) are treated like gods, others are harbingers of bad omen. Thanks to this belief, many an animal is abused and even killed to ward off evil. Owls, snakes and monitor lizards are some of the worst victims of this negative superstition.
However, some animals, while they are considered to bring bad luck, get away with a milder “treatment”. Cats, for instance, are either adored as pets or shooed away as the devil’s messenger. In most parts of India, it is believed ~ even today ~ that cats bring sorrow. And if a feline happens to cross one’s path, the day would be spoilt with no work successfully completed. If it is a black cat, then worse can be expected.
Therefore, people can go to any extent to avoid this evil. The other day, a colleague came across a young girl on the road who was hurrying away, presumably for some important work. Unfortunately for her, a black cat appeared from nowhere and crossed her path. The girl stopped immediately and began looking around, perhaps waiting for someone else to cross first. When nobody turned up, she noticed a toddler playing nearby.
She brought the child to the spot and pushed him across the imaginary line where the cat crossed her path. Thus, she made the baby cross first and thus avoided the bad luck that may have befallen her! When our colleague jokingly pulled her up for her deed, the girl replied that a baby is considered an incarnation of god and so was safe from all evil! Another superstition, our colleague realised.