Residence: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Date of Performance/Collection: April 26, 2017
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Punjabi
What is the evil eye?
“So, basically, the evil eye is a Hindu superstition that a person will have bad luck if they are given too much attention, good or bad, by other people. This can be done because of jealousy, but also can occur if someone gives another person too much praise. Pretty much, it is a curse of bad luck that is cause when somebody looks on your too much, whether with bad intentions or good intentions.”
So what traditions are associated with this superstition?
“Usually, mothers will protect their babies by putting black eyeliner on their eyes or a dot of black eyeliner on the side of the neck to ward off the evil eye. There are also charm bracelets, tattoos, or other objects that can be worn by people to prevent the curse. It can affect anyone, but I’m assuming that people usually protect their children because they don’t want them to die. But yeah, this is a very common Indian tradition that I’ve heard a lot, and when I went to India, it was actually a huge deal that basically everyone believes in. I think it’s a pretty interesting part of my heritage, even though I don’t really believe in it.”
This is a tradition that we have discussed in class, and seems to be shared by many different cultures, not just Indian traditions. There are variations of this story from Turkey, China, Italy, and all over the world, making me wonder if the superstition was developed in one country and spread all around given how many places have a similar tradition. This is an example of contagious magic, as it is passed through contact from one person to another through eye contact.