Author Archives: cmaguile

Leaving a Purse on the Floor is Bad Luck

SD: Whenever I visit my family in Puerto Rico, If I ever put my purse on the floor they would get mad at me. The same thing happens to me at my house because I always leave my purse and by backpack on the ground and my mom gets really mad because they really believe it. It kind of like makes her scared that I am going to bring bad luck to us and it is just passed down to her from her relative in Puerto Rico. There is not really a reason why it is just a think they get taught when they are little, um and they just carry into adulthood and it is made to feel so real that you actually believe it. I think it is mainly like say you have a test coming up, you just screwed that up.  


SD is a 21 year old student at UCLA whose mother is from Puerto Rican and dad is American. This was taken from a casual interview over FaceTime talking about any folklore she had when she mentioned her mom has many superstitions about things that are bad luck. Neither of the know why, but her mother follows then very strictly. 


It is interesting that these superstitions have so much power with SA’s mother and her whole family living in Puerto Rico following it religiously. There is a great deal of trust and respect for tradition that these practices are followed without knowing the reason why. 

Additionally, the tension between the younger and older generation is interesting because one firmly believes it while the other does not and repeatedly breaks the rule. SD does not see it as having any merit, which gives her mother a great deal of worry that she will bring bad energy into the house. 

Sending Someone the Evil Eye

EA: The ojo (eye) is that people do believe that there are other people that have the ability to. If they have something that belongs to that other person like a picture or something they can with bad things upon them. It is called “hiciste ojo”(“gave the eye”). For example, if someone wants some harm to come to someone else they will take a picture of that person to that individual and they will say I want them too whatever. There is the belief that there are people than have that ability to I guess curse them with bad things. You like a form of voodoo because it is kind of like you have an alter for them. You have a picture of them, you have their hair. You have some thing that belongs to them 

Interviewer: Where did you hear this?

EA: I heard this from my parents and like people, aunts. You know when a lot of bad things are happening to you it is common for people to say “ay, alguien me hiso ojo, necessito una limpia!”(“someone gave me the eye and I need a cleaning”). Then you go to someone that does the good and they take that curse away from you . 


EA is my mother who was born in Southern California, but whose parents are both from Mexico. She and her whole family are Catholic. However, she is not as religious as the rest of her family. She is a Human Resources manager at a small manufacturing company in the San Fernando Valley. The information taken from a casual conversation I was having with my mother about any folklore she had for me while my sister was also present.


It is surprising to me how much magic is involved in this considering how religious many of my family members are. Magic is normally frowned upon in the church as God is the only one that should be able to do things like see your future and change your destiny. However, getting the evil seems to be something that many people in Mexican culture are afraid of. The trope of the witch or “bruha” character that many are afraid of even portrayed through their entertainment, and I’m sure people talk about who they feel practices this dark form of magic. It is also similar to many other forms of contagious magic where you need something of the person in order to curse them, since our belongings and images are extensions of ourselves. 

Arnica and Linaca Mixture for Healing

EA: Arnica is a tea it is like a natural herb, arnica and linaca and it is supposed to be like a a homeopathic remedy you can use for like swelling and just kind of instead of like a Neosporin type thing. It helps to heal a little bit better. Back then when they would make it when you know they did not have modern medicine so they would take it with like leaves or whatever and they would put it on and then they wrap it and then that helps with the cut of whatever you have. 

Interviewer: Did she say how she boiled it?

EA: Yeah she boiled it and lets it simmer for like a while on high heat and then she lowers he heat and lets it simmer. Ten minutes I think she said and it boils it and then you turn it off and then you just let it sit and  then that’s when it gets that vava, which is kind of like a vasiline type texture and then it just like sits there. 

Interviewer: That’s when you know it is done?

EA: Yeah, like a little thick.  

Context: EA is my mother mother who was born in Southern California, but whose parents are both from Mexico. The information taken from a casual conversation I was having with my mother about any folklore she had for me and my sister was also present. She was referring to an ointment that my aunt made for her son when he had a really bad insect bit and gave to us when our dog had a rash. 


In Mexico, even know it is difficult in many places to see or either afford a doctor. This has given rise for the necessity of home remedies. Arnica is in many supplements and gels that are sold in pharmacies. Thus, showing the ability for homeopathic remedies to transfer to modern medicine and being legitimizd by being formally sold in stores. However, people would likely still feel that something like Neosporin is inherently more effective than something homemade when this is not inherently the case. Accordingly, when recommending these home remedies it is often accompanied with an anecdotal success story to prove it’s merit. would be It also shows the versatility of the homemade treatments because they are made with natural ingredients and how it can help your family and having advice when another person you care about is having a difficulty. 

Avocado Pit in your Guacamole

EA: Put the pit of one of the avocados form the guacamole into it after you are finished making you guacamole to keep it from browning. 


EA is my mother who was born in Southern California, but whose parents are both from Mexico. She and her whole family are Catholic. However, she is not as religious as the rest of her family. She is a Human Resources manager at a small manufacturing company in the San Fernando Valley. The information was from when I was making guacamole for lunch and she was telling me what I could do to keep it fresh to eat it later.

Analysis: After I told her I wanted to collect that as folklore she told me it was not folklore because it was true. She said it very matter of fact as if it something that everyone does. Specifically, related to food and medicine the value is placed on whether or not it works. That folklore is something outdated that people believe, but does not actually work. This is obviously not the case given that many recipes and standard cooking practices originated as folklore. It also shows the negative connotation that arises when using the word folklore to describe people’s practices and how they might not like having their culture being referred to as folklore. 

Praying to Your Car

NA: We pray to our car when we get a new car. You basically do like a ritual to the car when you are praying because Indian people believe there is god in everything. Like there is god in a pillow, there is god like that is what we learn when we were younger so it’s like you are praying to the god in the car that nothing will happen to you or the car. 

Interviewer: Do you know what exactly the ritual entails?

NA: Part of it is you have to drive over a coconut you also you know how people wear the red dot on their forehead, the bhindi, it’s not like the fashion kind it is literally just a red dot um you have to do that to your car in certain stops. Then, the is a ritual called like Arti where you put fire on the plate kind of like. I don’t know what Arti is, how to describe it. You basically go in like circles like with the plate and that’s just. I don’t understand why you do that but you do it. So anytime you go to the temple or anything first people will sing songs and read the books we have to read and then at the end of it you do Arti so you go stand in front of the alter where all the gods are and then there is like a silver plate with fire in the middle but its not like a candle it is usually like oil with a cotton swap. Then you have to put a dollar, don’t know why you put a dollar. And then you have to move the plate in a circular motion around the gods for the prayer song 

Interviewer: So you do this in the temple to bless your car?

NA: Oh no you do that for anything, anytime there is a religious ceremony you do that plate thing [Arti] where you go in circles but like when you pray to your car you do that too like you have that with you. 

Interviewer: Can you pray to other things to that are not your car? Is there another common thing you pray to?

NA: You do your car, pictures of elders in your family, your house, anything with like value that you do not want anything bad to happen to. Like you are not going to do your Louis Vuitton bag. I mean if you are really extra you can, but you can do your bike. Something of value. 


NA is a 20 year old USC business student whose family is from Sindhi culture in India. She grew up in southern California. This was taken from an interview conducted with NA. She is also my roommate and I asked her about folklore she had related to her Indian background. This information was gathered from an informal interview conducted over Facetime.


After research, I found this is called a Puja. This protection ritual is tapping into the divine in an object. Not only is this a blessing of an object, but also an indirect blessing of yourself. For example, your car keeps you safe while you are traveling. Therefore, if your car is safe then you are as well. 

Blessings are very common in Sindhi culture where the Arti can be used as a general blessing as well for use for specific purposes. The use of the Bindi is often used to bring out the power in the Chakra. Placing in on the car is likely a way to calling upon the divinity that lives in the car. The coconut seems like an offering of some kind to a god or gods that are often used in blessing rituals.