Nazar Utarna

Context & Background:

The informant is an old lady from Rajasthan (north India) and my late grandfather’s family friend, and she explains the tradition of warding off bad spirits or bad luck from a person.

Performance: (via phone call)

The act of purifying or taking away the bad spirit is called “Nazar Utarna”. Translation: Remove the evil eye. What we do is, we take a piece of cotton that we use for religious ceremonies and dip it in mustard oil. We then have to take an oath of silence until we complete the whole removal process. We take the oil dipped cotton to the person who we are purifying and wave the cotton around them but not touch them. We go around the entire body in a circular motion, vertically from feet to head, 12 times, to take away all the bad spirits around the person. The cotton has now absorbed all the bad spirits and we go and burn the cotton, either in the kitchen sink or anywhere else. The longer the cotton burns, the more bad spirits you had around you, but now they are gone. Once the cotton has burned, the silence oath is over.  


I asked the lady if this was somehow a religious ceremony, and she said no really. This has elements of religiousness and hinduism, like using the cotton that is used in other religions ceremonies, but it isn’t written in any holy book and the priests don’t tell you to do this type of thing. This is purely a tradition that has been passed down for generations. This ceremony was also performed in my house, and I thought it was really weird and didn’t take it seriously at all, but now that I analyze it more, the concepts of the actions make sense. Like the absorption of the spirit and burning it makes more sense than a lot of other superstitions that I have heard like sage or garlic garlands. This can also be considered as magic, contagious magic, as the cotton is somehow associated with the bad spirits around a person and they are being burned, and homeopathic magic, because anyone can replicate this action. You just need to believe in the magic.

For another version see: 

Rgyan Admin, et al. “Easy Ways To Remove Evil Eye (Buri Nazar Nivarak Sujhav).” Rgyan, 26 Mar. 2020,