The Hindu believes that the evil eye is commonly cast by women, rarely by men, but occasionally even by deities. A few animals also, specifically the jackal and the serpent, are possessors of the evil eye. The Sanskrit word commonly used for the evil eye is drishti which literally means sight.
Evil eye is known as Kudrishti or Karikannu in Hindu religion. The glances of people with impure or harmful intentions, jealousy or rivalry are categorized under evil eye.
It is difficult to determine the precise period or date when the concept of evil eye first originated in Hinduism. But the concept seems to have existed since ancient times. Once the concept was accepted, people initiated various methods to counteract or offset the effects of evil eye.
A host of stories, legends, rituals, prayers and other forms of worship have evolved from this concept and are purely based on regional and oral tradition.
There are no references to evil eye in Hindu scriptures. The literature on the concept is limited, mainly confined to casual references to real life incidents. But the concept is well known and is accepted throughout India among all communities of Hindus. The prayers, methods and rituals adopted to counter evil eye vary from region to region and from community to community.
Many people firmly believe that some of the sufferings they have undergone are solely due to evil eye. But this belief is against the karma theory in Hinduism, which firmly states that suffering is due to the actions of this birth and previous births.
Hindus offer worship to various gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon to ward off the effect of the evil eye. For instance, the breaking of a coconut in front of Ganesha is considered enough to wash off the effects of evil eye. Some people even believed that the amount of jealousy which the rival harbored against the devotee was directly proportionate to the loudness of the cracking noise which the coconut made while breaking. Ganesha who is capable of removing all obstacles that we may face, is also powerful to negate such ill effects.
Yantras (certain mystical or magical diagrams drawn on metal or paper) are also considered to have the power to protect the worshiper from the effects of evil eye. While some people pray to the yatra in their puja room or in the temple, others string the yantra into a long thread (usually black or red in color) and wear it as chain round the neck.
People also wear various other talismans and jewels to counter the effect of evil eye.
Certain people, such as exceptionally beautiful girls, brides-to-be, newly married couples and small babies, are believed to be especially prone to evil eye. To counter the effect of evil eye, elders take a rip lime or few dried chilli and salt or a pinch of rice in their hand and move it in a circular fashion around the head of the girl of the child and finally throw it away or put it in fire.
In the same fashion, in many South Indian marriages, married women take balls of cooked rice mixed with little bit of calcium paste and turmeric powder in their hand and move it in clockwise and anticlockwise fashion above the head of the groom and the bride, mainly to ward off the evil eyes cast on the couple.
Likewise, sometimes the beautiful face of a baby or a bride is marked on the cheek with a dot o charcoal or some other such black substance to divert the attention of those who secretly envy the good looks of the baby or the bride.
Potters used to press coal against the pots while firing with a view to ward of inauspicious glances. Hence, many traditional Indian pots have distinct black spots on them.
In some communities, people believe that giving away one’s old clothes as gifts to the poor will keep evil eyes at bay. In some villages, people offer collective prayers to ward off the evil eyes enemies might have cast against the entire village.
Some people deliberately do not exhibit wealth or other good things they may have, lest the enemy or rival may cast evil eye on them.
People hang the figure or the picture of a frightening demon or such other grotesque object in front of their house to ward off the evil eye against the house or shop.
When a new house is built or completed, a white pumpkin dotted with charcoal paste is hung with a rope in front of house.
Crude seashells and thorny, bitter fruit are tied on a black rope as charms to drive away the effects of evil eye.
There are many who do not believe in the concept of evil eye by taking a rationalist view. But most of them take relief in the concept of evil eye when they face failures in life. Evil eye is used by many people to escape from realities of life, especially those who do not want to own up the mistakes they have made in life.
Some symptoms of being afflicted by the evil eye include:
Addiction, repeated illness, recurring skin diseases, severe headache, earache, pain in eyes, blackouts, numbness of limbs, palpitations, reduction in body heat, and experiencing weakness
Constant tension and depression, excessive fright, increase in unnecessary thoughts and doubts about others
Educational problems Failing in examinations despite hard work, forgetting despite good intellect
Not getting employed, failure in business, recurring financial losses or getting cheated
Marital and family problems
Not getting married, marital discord, infertility, abortions, premature birth, birth of a mentally or physically challenged child, children dying at a young age