Nationality: Desi American
Residence: San Francisco, California
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2021
Primary Language: English
The interlocutor (AG) is a roommate of the interviewer (INT). She grew up in the Bay Area with a rich Punjab heritage.
Description: (told over text)
(AG): “The evil eye for Punjabis is called nazar, and like other cultures it means someone is jealous of your successes. It has to do with people’s auras, so if you’re around people who are negative and jealous of you or your success you can get affected by nazar. it can basically impede your life and like the path to move forward like I said the other day.”
(INT): “Is there a way to get rid of it?”
(AG): “Yeah the way my dad’s mom would protect them from nazar would be to take 7 red chilis and then circle them around their head 7 times, then throw the chilis into fire.”
(INT): “Do the chilis do anything? Like what are they there for?”
(AG): “I think its something like how chilies can attract all that bad energy quickly and then they get thrown into fire to destroy it.”
(AG): “I mean, nazar is just like, a thing that’s always present in my life I guess? I’m not too worried about getting affected by nazar since I know how to cleanse it, but then again, I think I’m pretty aware of peoples auras and try to only hang around with people who give off good vibes :)”
I know that a lot of cultures share this belief in an “evil eye,” which is pretty heavily based in the belief that people’s negative energy can affect you badly in the same way that their positive energy can benefit you. I think this belief can also be applied to the need for explaining the unknown, such as why people must endure hardships, illness, and loss. Nazar is a possible explanation for these negative things, and by purifying oneself from the evil eye, they could purify themselves from everything that’s holding them back as well.