6 Most Fascinating Facts about 'Nazar' or the Indian Evil Eye

What is Nazar?

‘Nazar’, originally a word from ancient Arabic, means ‘look, sight, surveillance, or visual attention’.

In Hindi and Urdu, the words ‘buri nazar’ mean ‘bad eye’, and ‘nazar lagna’ or ‘nazar lag gayi’ means to have received the evil eye. It is also common to say ‘nazar na lage’ or ‘may the evil eye not touch you’. As well as ‘buri nazar wale tera muh kala, or ‘O evil eyed one, may your face turn black’.

Here are 6 most fascinating facts about Nazar or the Indian Evil Eye.

1. Are Nazar and Evil Eye the same thing?

Yes, Nazar and Evil Eye are very similar beliefs.

The Evil Eye is a belief starting in antiquity, that others can cast an evil eye of jealousy, malice or envy, or a person or personal object, which brings the receiver harm or misfortune.

In Hindi and Urdu, the words ‘buri nazar’ mean ‘bad eye’, and ‘nazar lagna’ or ‘nazar lag gayi’ means to have received the evil eye.

It is common to say ‘nazar na lage’ or ‘may the evil eye not touch you’. As well as ‘buri nazar wale tera muh kala, or ‘O evil eyed one, may your face turn black’.

It is also believed that at certain points in time in one’s life, a person is most susceptible to ‘buri nazar’ or the ‘bad eye’. These include key life moments such as puberty, marriage, childbirth, or at any large social event or a special occasion where many gather to wish one ‘good luck’ or ‘good fortune’.

2. Where did the concept of Nazar come from?

The belief in the malefic effects of the Evil Eye is said to have originated in ancient Egypt in 3000 BC.

From ancient Egypt, the belief traveled to the Indus Valley Civilization (modern-day India and Pakistan) in 2000 BC, and ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Middle East) in 1500 BC.

It is believed that the concept of the Evil Eye or Nazar may have been first introduced to the people of this region in as early as 2000 BC, presumably via trade and cultural links with ancient Egypt.

In the image alongside of an excavated statue from the ruins of Mohenjo-daro known as the Priest-King sculpture. The subject can be seen wearing an Evil Eye amulet on his forehead and right arm.

Read More About How the Evil Eye became Nazar

In Sanskrit, a language once spoken in ancient North and Central India, the belief in Nazar or the Evil Eye came to be known as ‘Nara Drushti’ or ‘Nara Disti’, meaning ‘bad eye’. While in South India it came to be known as ‘kannu vykkuka’ or ‘to cast a greedy eye’.

In subsequent millennia, the belief in the Evil Eye presumably came back to these lands. This time in the form of Mati or the Greek Evil Eye along with the conquests of Alexander the Great in 300 BC, and the subsequent Hellenistic kingdoms formed by Alexander’s generals across the Middle East and Northwest India.

The belief could have also returned to South India in the form of Malocchio or the Italian Evil Eye along with Roman merchants who sailed to ancient ports dotting the Indian coastline to trade in pepper, herbs, textiles, exotic animals, and even Chinese silk from 30 BC onwards.

Before finally returning in the form of Kem Goz or the Turkish Evil Eye along with Turkish invaders to North India, 1200 AD onwards.

3. How does someone receive Nazar?

Most often it’s a look of jealousy, envy, or malice that is believed to give a person, animal, or even personal object ‘buri nazar’ or ‘bad eye’.

However many believe that nazar can also be given accidentally to most loved family members, friends, and even oneself by way of overpraise, over-adoration, or excessive compliments.

It is an ancient Hindu belief, one shared by ancient Greek philosophers, that the eyes can project powerful rays, invisible to the naked eye, but malicious and harmful to the receiver.

4. What is a Nazar Amulet?

A Nazar Amulet is a good luck charm, meant to protect the wearer from ‘buri nazar’ or the evil eye.

A nazar amulet can be anything from a wall hanging or an ornament, to a necklace, bracelet, ring, earring, pendant, even a small charm bead. The purpose of a nazar amulet is to reflect or absorb ‘buri nazar’ or the evil eye, thereby keeping the wearer safe and protected.

A nazar amulet is also called a ‘nazar battu’ in modern-day India and Pakistan, ‘cheshm nazar’ in modern-day Iran, ‘nazar boncuğu’ in Turkey, and ‘nazar qurbāni’ in Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Shop Nazar Amulets.

5. How do you Prevent Nazar?

In addition to wearing a Nazar Amulet, another popular way to prevent ‘nazar’ is to introduce a deliberate flaw, on an otherwise perfect appearance.

This can range from putting a black mark on babies, children, and young women’s faces. To making a deliberate construction flaw in a new house, or adding a few wrong stitches or a color flaw in a new dress.

The color black is also believed to dispel ‘buri nazar’. With many, including adults, tying a black thread around their neck, on their right arm, or on their right ankle to keep away ‘buri nazar’.

Often attached to the black thread is a small metal cylinder containing holy prayers, known as a ‘taveez’ or ‘ta'wiz’.

Read More on How to Prevent Buri Nazar

To prevent ‘nazar’, the umbilical cord of a newborn is also often preserved and cast into a mental pendant, which is then tied to a baby with black thread, to wear as a bracelet, chain, armband or as a belt.

Many also say ‘Mashallah’ or ‘God wills it’ to create a protective shield from ‘buri nazar’, or say ‘chashm-e-baddoor’ meaning ‘may the evil eye not fall on you’.

Often rock salt, green chillies, neem leaves, and lemons are hung outside houses or inside automobiles to deflect ‘buri nazar’.

You may also notice sculptures of scary ogres outside big houses, or painted on walls and automobiles in bright colors. These are also meant to deflect ‘buri nazar’ and keep the house or automobile protected from the Evil Eye.

6. How do you Cure Nazar?

In the North Indian heartlands, priests are known to remove nazar by hitting a person with peacock feathers or a horse’s tail.

Bathing with rock salt is also said to remove ‘buri nazar’, with the ultimate remedy being to recite holy prayers, conduct a holy ritual, or visit a holy place. As divine grace is believed to be the very opposite of ‘buri nazar’ or the evil eye.

Following are four other ways of removing nazar:

Removing Nazar with Red Chilies and Salt

Chilies are believed to possess the quality of absorbing negative energies from the body, and the salt helps make a humid field around the chilies, which is said to further enhance their negative-energy absorbing abilities.

When using red chilies and salt to remove ‘nazar’, the number of red chilies are taken in odd numbers in the palms of the healer’s hand, and mixed with a comparatively greater proportion of salt.

The healer then closes both their palms to make a fist with the red chilies and salt inside, and turns both fists to face downwards in a cross-arm position.

The healer then waves his or her hands near the affiliated person in a down-to-upwards direction. From the feet or body up to the head, while visualizing the negative energies being pushed from inside the afflicted person to the outside.

The actions above are repeated three times, with the hand moving in clockwork direction, following which the salt and red chilies are burnt in smoldering coal.

It is believed that it’s critical to burn the chilies in a fire as soon as possible, as otherwise, they can emit the absorbed negative energies back into the environment.

Removing Nazar with Bhimseni, Borneo, or Barus Camphor

Bhimseni Camphor, also known as Borneo or Barus Camphor, is a specific type of camphor used in ayurvedic medicines since ancient times.

It is made from the Cinnamomum Camphora or Kapoor tree and is also edible, unlike normal camphor which is poisonous.

The fragrance of Bhimseni Camphor is said to have the ability to absorb distressing vibrations from the environment, concentrating them inside the camphor, which can then be destroyed with fire.

To cure nazar or the evil eye with Bhimseni camphor, the healer takes a piece of camphor in the right hand, and moves it three times in a clockwise direction, starting at the feet and moving to the head of the afflicted person.

Both the healer and the affiliated person visualize negative energies moving from inside the afflicted person to the outside with the movement of the hands.

The piece of camphor is then placed from the hand on the floor and burnt. If the camphor burns steadily with no smoke, it is believed that the person is not afflicted by the evil eye.

If the flame flickers a bit, but still no smoke, it is said the person is mildly affected by ‘buri nazar’ or the evil eye.
If there is mild smoke, then the person is said to be afflicted by ‘buri nazar’, and if there is heavy smoke, then it is said that the effect of the nazar is severe.

However, if on burning the camphor the flame makes a cracking sound and extinguishes immediately, then it is said the ‘buri nazar’ may even induce death.

Removing Nazar with a Lemon

Lemons are also believed to have the ability to absorb negative energies.

When using a lemon to remove nazar, the healer holds a fresh lemon in each hand, and circularly moves his hands from the feet to the head of the afflicted person, repeating the movement three times.

Similar to the other methods, both the healer and the person are to visualize the removal of negative energies from inside the person to the outside.

However, unlike the other methods, the healer does not need to bring together their fists in a downward-facing cross-arm position.

The healer then takes the lemons and immerses them in flowing water, or more preferably burns them on coal.
If the lemons burn immediately without making any sound, the person is said to not be afflicted by nazar or the evil eye.

If the lemons burn with sound but burn in the first attempt, it is said the person’s affliction is mild.

However, if the lemons don’t burn on repeated attempts, burn with a loud noise, or give out a foul stench when burning, then it is said the person’s affliction or nazar is severe.

This belief does state that only lemons without any lines need to be taken. As lemons with a line or lines running from the top to bottom on any one side are believed to possess greater energies used in black magic.

Removing Nazar with Rock Salt and Mustard Seeds 

Similar to red chilies, mustard seeds are also believed to be able to absorb negative energies, and rock salt is believed to make the absorption of these energies most effective.

When removing nazar with mustard seeds, the healer first takes the mustard seeds with a greater proportion of salt in both fists.

The healer then turns both closed fists downwards, crosses their arms, and stands in front of the afflicted person.

They then move both their downward-facing, crossed-fisted hands, down from the feet or body of the afflicted person, up to the head.

While visualizing the negative energies moving from inside the person to the outside, and repeating the step three times in a circular movement.

The salt and mustard seeds are then burned on smoldering coal. If on burning no foul odor is observed, then the person is said to not be afflicted by ‘buri nazar’ or the evil eye.

However, if a foul odor is observed on burning, then the person is said to be afflicted by ‘buri nazar’ or the evil eye, with the intensity of the foul odor mirroring the intensity of the ‘buri nazar’.

Stay Protected from Buri Nazar