The desire to ward off the evil-eye or buri nazar in Hindi and drishti in Sanskrit is ubiquitous in India and it takes numerous forms. But what you may ask are the effects of the evil-eye that every one is so keen to prevent? From what I understand, it often comes from envy and jealousy and general negativity directed at you. It can arrive in the form of illness, misfortune and cause misunderstandings between people, inexplicable bad luck and in the worst case, death.
In the West, we are eager to call this superstition and regard it with condescension as unscientific and brush it off as ignorance. Yet nearly every culture has something akin to buri-nazar and it merits more than a casual dismissal. I certainly am not qualified to offer an explanation but with so many people world-wide believing in the power of the evil-eye, it should make us all stop and wonder. Just maybe there is something to it and maybe that something stems from the power of faith; something that scientists have never been able to adequately explain.
To ward off the evil-eye people chant mantras, call upon the services of pandits or Hindu priests and astrologers, wear amulets and place demon’s faces and other assorted effigies on the exteriors of their homes for protection.
In the photograph above, a young mother has placed an “uglification” mark on her baby’s forehead to protect it from harm so that no one will be envious or jealous of her lovely child and to ensure that no harm will come to it.
All over India one sees vehicles adorned with black tassels and pompoms to ward off the evil- eye and as insurance against a potential accident.
Homes also have their special talismans to keep the evil- eye away. These talisman can take many forms. Often the image of a demon’s face is hung outside toward the roof of a home and sometimes demon dolls are placed there or over an entrance. The stringing of lemons with green chiles is another means of keeping the evil- eye at bay.
I do not think of myself as superstitious yet I readily accept that there are forces more powerful in the universe than mankind. If most of the world believes that these amulets and talismans can help ward off evil then I will go along with them and employ a few. I also consider them a charming form of folk art that I enjoy having around me; if they can stave off the evil- eye, so much the better.