ridding of the effects of the evil eye' is a very popular practice. It is commonly
believed that all kinds of illnesses, pains, epileptic fits and handicaps are caused by
the 'evil eye', or because one is possessed by an evil spirit Bhuta,
Preta, Pishacha. Unless this is nullified, the effects are said to stay. In such
cases, no medication is believed to help the patient, therefore other 'remedies' have
A person is said to possess the evil eye if whatever he or she looks upon is harmed. A person with an evil eye need not necessarily be wicked; usually the effect of the evil eye is unintentional. Such people do not have any distinguishing physical feature to set them apart from the rest. However, one or two 'incriminating' incidents from everyday life may doom a person to the detested category of those with the 'eye'. All those believed to be witches, wizards, and beggars are so castigated. If these people look upon any desirable object, it is believed to get ruined.If a person falls under an evil spell, there are many ways through which it can be broken. Waving a whole chilli over the person and throwing it in fire is another way. If the smoke smells of the chilli, the illness is not attributed to the evil eye or nazar. However, if the smoke does not smell of chillies, it is believed that the person was afflicted by the evil eye, whose spell has now been broken. Nazar utarna of a more elaborate kind is performed by astrologers or professionals who do it with the help of secret and mystic rites. At times, a lemon with four or five chillies tied together, or a piece of stale unleavened bread (roti) are used for the purpose. With the help of mantras, the effects of the evil eye are. They are then either thrown away or left at a crossroad. Therefore, most people are very particular about avoiding these objects when they spot them lying at a crossroad, for fear of catching the eye if they step over them. At times these chillies are also hung on the front door to shield the house from the evil eye.Good-looking children, young boys and girls, brides and grooms, are considered most susceptible to the eye. Small children are generally made to wear special, protective charms and lockets. Eyeliner (see Kajal) is applied to their eyes and a small black dot (kala tika) to their foreheads. This is believed to mar their beauty and make them unappealing to the evil eye. Charms like bits of pottery from a burial ground, the dried foot of a tortoise, the tooth of a crocodile, a bristle from the tail of an elephant, a tiger's claw, or a talisman with magic mantras inscribed on it are all popular. Some people even give ugly names Namakarana to their childrenNazar Utarnaas a pre-emptive measure against nazar. When a north Indian bridegroom leaves for his bride's house, his face is always covered with a screen of flowers, as a camouflage against the evil eye. When he arrives at the bride's house, the mother of the bride performs a ritual for the groom Arati to nullify the effects of any nazar acquired on the way. So too, a bride's mother-in-law performs the same ritual for her when she first enters her in-laws' house.
Nazar is also said to affect healthy domestic animals, trees in blossom, a good harvest or fine houses. Stone slabs inscribed and engraved with letters, characters and figures are often set up at the village boundary to safeguard the inhabitants and their cattle and crops against sickness, epidemic and disease caused by nazar. To protect their homes from the eye, women often draw mystical designs on the threshold. Black mud pots with fierce faces drawn on them are also hung on the door of It is believed that if the malefic effect of the first look is neutralized, subsequent glances will have no effect. All these devices are believed to catch the effect of the evil eye before it affects the crops, the building, or the beings they protect. It is believed that only the first look is deadly, and once its effect is neutralized, subsequent glances will have no effect. Dhrishtamani (eye beads) are used as an indicator of the evil eye. These beads are strung together and worn by children. It is believed that if the child falls under an evil spell, the necklace breaks or the beads change colour. Rudraksha beads are also used as charms, either strung into a necklace or tied on a thread and worn on the body.
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