Superstition: To Ward Off Evil With A Black Rubber Band

“My mom makes me wear a black rubber band or a black clothing item to ward off evil eyes and evil spirits.”

She has spent her whole life always making sure she is wearing a black rubber band, or a black article of clothing. Growing up she was told that this ritual will ensure that all evil eyes and evil spirits will be kept off of her. If she doesn’t have a black rubber band or piece of clothing, then her mom places a black dot, like a freckle, on the center of her cheek. Last year, she moved across the country from her family, and as a going away gift, her mother gave her a black anklet that she wears every day and every night. This person grew up Hindu and the act of having a protective, tangible, symbol is a part of many Hindu traditions that create protection and give blessings. Her mother grew up in a region of India where this tradition is practiced and so she continues to pass it on through another generation of her own family. This person has even started implementing this ritual with those that she loves in her life to ensure evil spirits are kept at bay from them.

My first impression when hearing this ritual was that it is very similar to the evil eye pendants and jewelry many people wear for similar reasons, being to rid off any evil in their lives. This ritual and act appears to have been passed down for generations, a quality important in folklore as there is an emphasis of familial traditions that create the beliefs surrounding this culture. This suggests that there is a strong connection to ancestral cultures and heritage among her family, but also in the Hindu community as well. Furthermore, while to this person the tradition was wearing a black rubber band or the black spot placed on her cheek, she now wears a black jeweled anklet. This shows that while the ritual is still the same, it has progressed and evolved into a piece of jewelry. This can be looked at in a symbolic matter, showing that as folklore and traditions carries on, it is evolved with time and adapts to different circumstances, or audiences when looked at in a wider perspective. It is common ground that folklore is an ever-changing aspect of life, and this simple switch from a rubber band to an anklet is a great example of its resilience. Finally, this person sharing her beliefs with others creates a space for shared cultural identities, another important theme of folklore, as cultural appreciation holds a large spot in the sharing of customs and stories.