Sunday, April 22, 2007


India is a mysterious and beautiful country. And it is also one that hoardes a lot of superstition. I've been raised in a fairly liberal family and we were expatriates when I was younger so it is not that bad but it still exists. One of the strange baby gifts I received was a black kajal pencil (eyeliner). "Oh how nice" I expressed to the present bearer. "At least somone thought ot get me something instead of the baby." "This is for the baby" she said. "To ward off the Evil Eye". I nearly spat out the water I was drinking and tried not to laugh. Of course it was all forgotten till we went to a party when baby was 3 months old and a lady would just not take her eyes off her. I thought it was quite flattering, but once we were home she cried non-stop for 3 hours. My Mom said it was the effect of the lady looking at her too much. Ok just to clarify to those of you who have neevr heard of this before. The Evil eye is supposed to take affect when a person longingly (or jealously) looks at something that they cannot have (or is not theirs) and this affects the object in question. It is not restricted to babies. OK so in theory if you looked at your neighbour's Mercedes and longed for it, something bad would happen to the car (hee hee to have a power like that!). Well with babies they could cry, go off their food and a million other things. So you put a black mark on their face or tie beads around their hand to distract the evil eye. Makes Sense? It didn't to me. "But she is collicky" I insisted to my mother at that time. "You don't believe in these things but they do exist" she said. Still Mom is very open minded. When I took baby back to India for the first time it was quite simply weird. "Tie a black thread around her waist" said one. "She has so much hair, she will need a black mark on her face " said another. "No flower clips in her hair it draws too much attention" said my grandmom. "Tie a plastic bag aroung her feeding bottle so that no one can see how much milk she is drinking" said my Grandaunt. Huh? Were these the same adults who brought me up so practically saying these things? At some point baby did go off her food and I had to hear about how children should not be fed in public. I however refuse to make my baby look ugly (I have seen some truly scary looking babies with Kajal smudged all over the face) to appease the evil eye. Although I must admit I did use the little beads around her hands for a while. They looked very fashionable and also, just in case....

Love and Peace,


Divs said...

Wow - I can sooo relate to this! I am of a very similar thinking - conflicted between the numerous superstitions in India and the more scientific approach in life. I always question these superstitions as I feel they weigh me down but I sometimes give in too (like the black beads deal with my newborn). No wonder they call the Indian kids born here in the US as confused desis :-)

Mridula said...

I think most of us relate to the things you have mentioned! Especially because when you're a first time mom - there's "advice" flying in from everywhere!

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