Obsession with the evil eye : The Tribune India

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Obsession with the evil eye

Obsession with the evil eye

Photo for representational purpose only.



Rajiv Sharma

Whatever is the caste, creed or religion of a person, one thing that unites all Indians is their firm belief in buri nazar (the evil eye). Most of us are staunch believers in the malevolent glare and its ominous implications. It is widely presumed that anyone who is doing well in his or her job or business or is in the pink of health is the most suitable candidate to draw an evil eye. It is also believed that a person who envies your progress is the most likely to cast a malefic spell on your business or health. 

From petty shopkeepers to big showroom owners, none forgets to hang lemons and chillies outside their establishments to ward off the evil eye. Talismans and amulets are worn by the rich and the poor alike. Even mothers don’t forget to apply a kala tika on the faces of their tiny tots to keep the evil at bay. 

Recently, my uncle, who retired as a senior officer, was taken ill. A fitness freak, his blood pressure suddenly shot up and he had to be admitted in a hospital for a day or two. The other day, when I called him to enquire about his well-being, he was convinced that he had fallen prey to someone’s buri nazar.

Our faith in the evil eye is certainly much deeper than meets the eye. A few years ago, when we were constructing our house, the job of coating the roof with molten tar had to be postponed repeatedly due to the unseasonal rain. I was exasperated because of the frequent interruptions. The contractor advised me to keep cool and assured that he would take care of the frequent hold-ups. 

The next day, when I went to the site, I was pleased to see labourers working under bright sunshine. The contractor approached me with a wide grin and pointed at the two nazarbattus (antidotes for the evil eye) he had hung on the front elevation of the under-construction house. ‘It was the malefic glare which was disrupting the work time and again and I have taken care of it,’ he said assertively.

I was quick to rubbish his claim, ‘Had you bothered to Google the weather before tarring the roof, you would have saved both the money and energy spent on these weird caricatures, and moreover, who knows these nazarbattus may also repel the benevolent eye along with the evil one because they don’t possess the cognitive ability to differentiate between the malefic and favourable gaze. Better get rid of them.’

As he reluctantly removed the grotesque wall hangings, I could clearly notice the look of disapproval on his face.


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