Date of Performance/Collection: March 27
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi
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.
The informant 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 traditions.
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.
This article talks about its use specifically within shopkeepers to bring good fortune as they struggle through bad economic times. They change the fruits each week and use lemons instead of limes.
Menon, “Shopkeepers turn to charms of lemons and chillies for good luck”, The National UAE, March 6, 2010