This is the use of a folk object to bring safety to one’s family, typically found in India. The informant is from Mumbai, India, and he and his family consistently use this practice whenever they have purchased new things. The concept of this is that the individual hangs green objects, typically limes or green peppers, from something. This is most common when something new has been bought. The purpose of this is to protect their family and their new possession from the evil eye of jealousy. They believe in that culture that other people looking on this object will bring jealous with their eyes and will spell bad fortune for themselves. The hanging objects distract the eyes and no longer spell misfortune. There is another side to this in terms of keeping bugs away as well. The limes and peppers are hung with string. It is said that both of the acidity and spiciness of the two fruits will deter bugs from hanging around the home in which it is hung. There are other accounts that the hanging charms will please the god of misery, Alakshmi, and keep her from causing harm to the family.
learned this practice from his family. It was more important and believe in
past times and now, it is more done out of tradition than anything. The
informant remembers this because it is something his mother would do when he
was younger. He does not believe in the actual superstition of it but
appreciates the reflection of his culture and the preservation of folk
This is used in
Hindu culture, which has many gods to reflect different aspects of society.
Specific things please each one, so this is just likely one of many examples of
implementation of religion in Indian culture’s daily life. This brings a sense
of security to the person, much like physical blue all-knowing eyes are hung in
some Muslim countries like Turkey.
“In Guanajuato there was a beautiful woman who had a husband that was a Count. When her husband left to work, he would always return very late. One day the wife found out that he was cheating on her. She was furious and wanted to punish him. She thought of many ways and one night she thought that when her husband returned one night, he would find his children with slit throats. She carried this idea out and the night came where her husband arrived with the children dead. The husband went crazy at the sight of his children. His screams brought the neighbors to their home, where they took his wife to the police. The wife was sentenced to be burned at the stake in a white dress. Before she was burned, a priest convinced the wife to repent for the sin she had committed. Her regret for her sins was immediate and she howled these words “Mis hijos! Ay mis hijos!” They burned her and she continued to yell this until her death. From that point on, the people of Guanajuato talk about a woman who walks around downtown Guanajuato yelling “Ay mis hijos.” Some have even seen her roam in the white dress she died in.
The informant is a 77-year-old Spanish speaking woman, born in Mexico. Her grandmother told her this story and the informant has passed the tale along to her children and grandchildren. She believes that the tale is a warning in decisions that are made in moments of absolute rage.
I agree with the informant, this crime committed by La Llorona was that of a crime of passion which could have been avoided. The saddest part of the tale is that because of the woman being blinded by rage, the young lives of her children were ended.
Context: The informant is a grandmother of 8 whose parents were originally from Afghanistan but settled in Pakistan. She also lived in Saudi Arabia for many years and has a working knowledge of Farsi, Arabic, and Punjabi along with her native Urdu. She says that a common thing to say when you see someone in new clothes, or looking particularly beautiful; or when someone has very good fortune in (for instance) an exam or a job; or, especially, with children and new babies; is
“Nazr-bad-door” or “Chashme-bad-door”
which, word-for-word, means “look-bad-far-away” or “eye-bad-far-away”, but translates to, “May the Bad Gaze/Evil Eye stay far away from you.”
Analysis: The purpose of this little saying is basically to keep away the Evil Eye, which the informant says can be put on someone if they are envied or have something that others covet (eg, good grades or good health). When the Evil Eye is put on you, you may fall sick, fail in your job or school, lose your money, etc. Children are especially susceptible because they are often the center of attention, especially in the informant’s Pakistani family, and so if someone merely looks at a child with selfish or ungracious thought in their mind, the child could fall ill or have an accident, etc. It is thus important to remember to praise God when you see something beautiful and not be jealous or ungrateful, and this phrase is a way to remind oneself of that, and also to express the desire to protect someone from others’ ill gazes as well. The informant said all this as what people “used to believe”, implying that the traditional phrase is kept even though the specific belief may have been altered or abandoned altogether.