10, 11, 12, 12A, 14

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The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics on June 14th 2008,Saturday,stated that, “fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occurred yesterday in comparison to other days.” Not that the askance associated with “Friday, the 13th” is turning phlegmatic. But with more than half the number not opting to go to work,eating in restaurants,getting married and venturing forth on anything enterprising,driving – and for that matter even booking tickets – becomes a lot easier !

Legend has it : Never change your bed on Friday;it will bring nightmares , never start on a journey on Friday;it will bring misfortune.Ships that set sail on Friday will have bad luck – as in the case of ‘H.M.S Friday’….about 100 years ago, the British Navy sought to quell once and for all the widespread superstition among seamen that setting sail on Fridays was unlucky.A special ship,H.M.S Friday was commissioned.They laid her keel on a Friday,launched her on a Friday,selected her crew on a Friday and hired J.Friday as her captain.To top it off,the ship embarked on her maiden voyage on a Friday.After 13 days of smooth sailing,it was never seen or heard of again !

Some say Friday’s bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit. Adam bit it, and they were both ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course, Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. It is therefore a day of penance for Christians .

The name “Friday” was derived from a Norse deity worshipped on the sixth day, known either as Frigg (Goddess of marriage and fertility), or Freya (Goddess of sex and fertility), or both, the two figures having become intertwined in the handing down of myths over time (the etymology of “Friday” has been given both ways). Frigg/Freya corresponded to Venus, the Goddess of love of the Romans, who named the sixth day of the week in her honour “dies Veneris.” Friday was actually considered quite lucky by pre-Christian Teutonic people, — especially as a day to get married — because of its traditional association with love and fertility. All that changed when Christianity came along.

The Goddess of the sixth day — most likely Freya in this context, given that the cat was her sacred animal — was recast in post-pagan folklore as a witch, and her day became associated with evil doings. Various legends developed in that vein, but one is of particular interest: As the story goes, the witches of the north used to observe their sabbath by gathering in a cemetery in the dark of the moon. On one such occasion the Friday Goddess, Freya came down from her sanctuary in the mountaintops and appeared before the group- who numbered only 12 at the time-c and gave them one of her cats, after which the witches’ coven — and, by tradition, every properly-formed coven since — comprised exactly 13. This characterization played a part in fear of the number 13.Thus,the deadly combo of ‘Friday’ and the ‘13th’.

Some trace the infamy of the number 13 back to ancient Norse culture. In Norse mythology, the beloved hero Balder was killed at a banquet by the mischievous god Loki, who sprang uninvited in on a party of twelve, bringing the group to 13. Some Christian traditions have it that at the Last Supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table, and that for this reason 13 is considered to carry a curse .You should never sit down to a meal in a group of 13,else,someone out of the 13 would die the very next year.It was on a Friday the 13th in 1307 that King Philip of France arrested the revered Knights Templar and tortured them.The great fire of London started in Pudding Lane in a Bakery. A bakers dozen consists of 13 instead of the usual 12; thus 13 is thought of as unlucky, due to its link to the great fire.

These are some of the most entrenched 13-related beliefs. The Black Friday bushfires in Victoria, Australia occurred on Friday, January 13, 1939. The Uruguayan Rugby team infamously crashed in the Andes mountain range on Friday, 13 October 1972 .Hurricane Charley made landfall near Port Charlotte, Florida on Friday, August 13, 2004. The “Friday the 13th Storm” struck Buffalo, New York on October 13, 2006. UNIX time will reach 1,234,567,890 decimal seconds on February 13, 2009 at 23:31:30 GMT.The asteroid 99942 Apophis will make its close encounter on Friday, April 13, 2029. Satan is the 13th angel. Alexander wanted to be a God and accordingly made a 13th statue of his,in his capital.He died. Apollo 13,on its way to moon,exploded on April 13th 1970. Columbia Space Shuttle sent into space on 16-01-2003 (1+6+0+1+2+0+0+3 = 13) exploded during re-entry and all crew members (including Kalpana Chawla of India) died. Uphaar Cinema Tragedy resulting in the death of 59 persons and injury of about 100 took place on June 13, 1997 – a Friday , in Delhi.

Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the gallows. The Kerala High Court building has not assigned Number 13 to any of its courtrooms. Some airport terminals do not have gates numbered 13.Some hotels do not have a 13th floor.Instead the counting goes 11,12,12A,14 and so on. On some passenger aircrafts, such as those of Continental Airlines, Air NewZealand, Alitalia, Meridiana are divided into two, three, four or six equal groups, there is always one leftover. The human menstrual period occurs in a typical woman every 28 days (nearly 13 times a year), and this in many ancient cultures suggested a connection between thirteen and women. The association of thirteen with bad luck may be a vilification of the “female” number. The legion with which Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon was the Legio XIII Gemina or the 13th legion. In Formula One, there is no number 13 car. The Atlanta Braves have banned the number 13 throughout their Major and Minor League systems. Microsoft has skipped #13 and from Office # 12 has directly gone on to office # 14.After 13 years of being the richest man in the world, Microsoft Corporation chairman Bill Gates lost this title in the list of the world’s billionaires.

Princess Diana died when her car hit the thirteenth pillar of a tunnel in Paris. On first coming to power in 1996 at the centre, the BJP lasted for 13 days. The next time it assumed reins in New Delhi in 1998, the BJP-led coalition’s tenure ran 13 months. Fear of unlucky Friday(Paraskevidekatriaphobia,) + Fear of unlucky 13(Triskaidekaphobia) = Fear of the unluckiest day of all,that is,Friday the 13th(paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia).But the gauche, untoward, inauspicious and ‘quite some mouthful’ has not always been fiendish. In the Indian pantheon there are 13 Buddhas .13 is the number of Jewish principles.In Sikhism, the number 13 is considered special since 13 is “tera”which also means “yours” (as in, “I am yours, O Lord”). Several successful athletes have worn the number 13.

Alex Rodriguez,Dan Marino,Wilt Chamberlain,Chris Mullin,Mats Sundin,Tim Duncan,Michael Ballack and Steve Nash to name a few.The premier of many countries is designated as PRIME MINISTER containing exactly 13 letters. Some other coveted designations containing 13 letters are CHIEF MINISTER, CHIEF ENGINEER, VICE PRESIDENT, etc. Is the lore unpretentious or are we guilty of hogwash ?A Friday 13th on which one breaks a mirror, walks under a ladder, spills the coffee,sneezes, spies a black cat crossing one’s path – but still passes unscathed to the 14th .Many have lived to tell the story but none has arrived at a debunking conclusion.The boldest of steps has perhaps been taken by the “The Thirteen Club” in the USA in which 13 members dine together on every Friday the 13TH. Some news for people who have names in which the letters add up to 13.You are endowed with the “Devil’s Luck”! The name “SADDAM HUSSEIN” contains 13 letters (S,A,D,D,A,M,H,U,S,S,E,I,N) and was captured on 13 th December, 2003.The issue of “Friday the 13th” tops the charts in the files of the un-defined hocus-pocus.A day best spent in the safety of one’s home with doors locked,shutters closed and fingers crossed…

Bhavna Tripathy

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