Sunday, December 1, 2013



At the start of a party or drinking session, Civilians or Pongos may clink their glasses and say “Cheers” and then start drinking!!! 

But you may notice that a Naval Officer does not clink glasses but will just hold up his glass in his hand and say “Cheers” followed by a toast.

Sailors don’t clink glasses.

Here is the reason for this Naval Custom (or you can call it a Navy Superstition):

An Apocryphal Naval Superstition

Most people clink glasses when they meet over a drink and make a toast for good luck and health.

However, Naval Officers never clink glasses when they make a toast. 

They just hold up their glasses and say “Cheers” and voice the toast.

The reason for this is as follows.

In the early days of the past, when a sailor died at sea, his body was buried at sea, committed to the deep waters, to the Davy Jones’s Locker at the bottom of the ocean.

The ship’s bell would be sounded 8 times as a mark of respect to the departed soul of the deceased mariner during the funeral service for burial at sea.

On a ship at sea, 8 bells are sounded at the end of a watch.

The 8 bells sounded at the funeral of the sailor signified “End of the Watch” for the dead sailor.

This the striking of “Eight Bells” (a nautical euphemism for “finished watch”) during burial at sea symbolized the obituary of the dead seaman.

The sounding of 8 bells was a way of pronouncing that the dead sailor’s duty watch was finished forever.

The sound of clinking glasses is similar to the solemn toll of the ship’s bell as the body of a dead sailor was committed to the deep.

Thus, it was assumed that the clinking sound will herald the death of a sailor.

Hence, clinking of glasses on board ships was considered a bad omen.

There was another superstition to lessen the gravity of the evil portent in case a sailor inadvertently clinked his glass.

The sailor quickly silenced a clink that had mistakenly occurred with his hands or he quickly clinked a second time. 

It was thought that this would confuse the devil enough so that he might take a soldier instead.

So it is best not to clink your glass.

And, if by mistake, you clink your glass, remember to quickly clink it a second time.

Of course, this is all a myth, a superstition.

But the next time you see someone reluctant to clink his glass, do ask him if he is a sailor.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
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All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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