Keeping on the safe side

IT IS ALWAYS WISE to ward off the Evil Eye. The Turks use characteristic amulets known as ‘nazar’. They are usually flat and almost circular with a design that resembles a stylised eye. This is now to seen on the homes of many people with no connection with Turkey. The Arabs and some Jewish people use an amulet, the ‘hamsa’, depicting a hand with five outstretched digits, to protect against the malevolent effects of the Evil Eye.

During road trips in India, I have often seen lorries (trucks) and other vehicles with thick, black, plaited tassels attached on the left and right sides of the driver’s cab. These things fly out sideways as the vehicles speed along.

One of our driver’s, the highly educated and informative Raheem, explained that these tassels are nazars. The drivers attach them to their vehicles to ward off the Evil Eye – an especially wise precaution on many roads in India.

During a recent (December 2022) visit to Panjim in Goa, my wife bought a couple of scarves from a female street vendor. The seller was so happy that my wife had bought from her that she immediately attached a bracelet on my ‘other half’s’ right wrist. The bracelet has a Turkish style Eye nazar and is made of black beads, which might well be designed also to protect against the Evil Eye.

Even more recently, I noticed that an autorickshaw, which we had hired in Bangalore, was adorned with two hefty black tassels just like those seen on lorries. I was struck by these because on the whole autorickshaws in the city do not have them.

I have one minor concern about vehicles whose drivers have attached things to ward off the Evil Eye. That is, I wonder whether the knowledge that their vehicles are equipped with such protection might drive more recklessly than those who do not put any faith in objects that might possibly have a protective value.