Persian Evil Eye Protection Superstition

Roxana can’t even remember the age at which she learned about the Evil Eye and how to combat it, but she is certain she learned this folklore protection superstition from her parents when she was growing up in Orange County, California.  She believes both her parents learned their techniques to rid the Evil Eye from their own Persian parents, and passed the knowledge down to her. The context in which this folklore is performed, Roxana says, is, “If my Mom hears people complimenting me, she’ll burn esfand for me so I don’t get [evil eye]. Like when I broke out freshman year, she said, ‘People have jinxed you. They’ve looked at you with evil eye, with jealousy, so bad fortune has come onto you.’ This is what she’ll do to prevent it. Literally, when bad things happen to me, she says, “it’s the evil eye” Although her parents have been warning her about the Evil Eye since she was a young child, she recalls an incident that occurred in 2007, when she was 18 and had just gotten into college. Roxana remembers, “We went to a family party, and I saw a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in a couple months. They did their usual, ‘Oh Roxana, you look beautiful, you’re such a nice girl, you’re in college, you’re going to be so successful.’ Then we go home, and my mom turns on the oven and puts on esfand – it’s like an herb that smokes a lot – and she says, ‘Come here,’ and started waving all the smoke in my face. And she says, ‘They jinxed you at the party. This will take away all the chemsh (evil eye).’” Roxana says she believes in the power of the Evil Eye, and incorporates it into much of her art. Although this is a tradition that has never been a part of my life, I see why Roxana and so many people believe in the power of this folklore performance to take away bad vibes. I believe that bad mojo and jealously from others can indirectly interfere with one’s own personal goals and good intentions, so I can appreciate the action of using smoke and herbs to force the negativity away. Annotation:  This  Evil Eye Purification Ceremony is also seen documented in Living Tradition of Iran’s Crafts, a book published in 1979 by Jasleen Dhamija.