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The curse of the evil eye

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

There once was quite a frightening character in the village of Saligao. The mere mention of his name could send chills down the spine of even the most hard-boiled and cynical among the village folk in Goa. His name was Sonzil Agostin. His claim to infamy was the belief of everyone that he had an unfailing “evil eye”– dixtt in Konkani — with which he could wreak havoc, at will.

Sonzil Agostin was an institution, but of whom people spoke only in whispers because of the evil eye superstition. When he came along, one fixed stare could transform a happy and healthy person into a blubbering bundle of depression, pain and woe. The many inexplicable misfortunes that befell people and things that Sonzil Agostin set his evil eye on, prompted even learned and practical people to wonder whether there was really something to this evil-eye business after all.

Removing dixtt. Sketch by Mel D'Souza. Saligao Serenade

Bizarre stories have been related to me about Agostin’s prowess. A branch of a mango tree loaded with the fruit came crashing down when Agostin took just one look at it with his evil eye. A newly-erected building wall collapsed merely because it caught the evil eye of Agostin. A rose tree blooming with roses, withered away no sooner had Agostin passed by and gazed at the owner enviously. The best method to pre-empt any potential damage from Agostin’s evil eye, was, it seems, to hail him or draw his attention first, before he had time to cast his dixtt on you. By this method alone could one ward off the laser-beam damage!

With the passing of Agostin, the era of the much-dreaded evil eye also seems to have largely passed. Indeed the number of dixttikarns who could remove the curse and who grew in number during the time of Agostin and his ilk, has also diminished. But certainly a few dixttikarns still remain even in this modern day and age, called upon by the traditional among us to ward off or remove dixtt. And they use the same “tried and tested” method of old — the recitation of the Christian Creed, while lightly running their hands (in which are three chillies and some salt) over the body of the victim, from head to toe and then the magical circle of protection fashioned with a final gesture.

At the end of this solemn ceremony the chillies and salt were hurled into the rannon (fireplace). If the chillies burned with a crackling sound then the ceremony was deemed successful, someone cheered “Dixtt geli!” (The evil eye is gone!), and the rest replied quickly, “Poi!” (See!). But if the chillies just burned quietly, the dixttikarn and others looked at each other in consternation and interpreted the foul odour emanating from the flames as “Dixtt vochunk nam” (The evil eye has not left).

Till this day there are the traditional and the superstitious who firmly believe in the existence of the evil eye and frequent the houses of dixttikarns in Mapuca and elsewhere, to obtain okot. It may seem rather quaint that people can still believe in such foolish superstitions in these modern times, but then again, such is the power of strong tradition.

6 comments on The curse of the evil eye

  • Joaquim Colaco

    Hi Fr Nascimento,

    I offered to conduct the Dixtt removal technique to a friend who declined.

    Does one have to be specially authorised?

    Please reply.

    Joaquim

  • HELLO FR NASCIMENTO

    I SEE JOAQUIM COLACO BEGAN THE NEW YEAR – AT 3:03AM- ADVERTISING HIS SERVICES. SAD. JC, JOIN ME FOR ONE CAJU AND WATCH THE SETTING SUN. THE WORLD WILL CERTAINLY BE A BETTER PLACE.

    MAY I NOW AT THE VERY LEAST WISH YOU AND ALL GOENKARS IN GOA AND THE WORLD OVER – A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

    MAY I ASK THE PEOPLE OF GOA, TO HUMOUR ME ABOUT THIS EVIL EYE – WOULD IT BE THE SAME FOR EVIL HOME-VIDEO, EVIL PC-CAM CHAT, EVIL- FACEBOOK PHOTO, OR EVIL-WHATSOEVER ?

    I AM SURE LOOKING AT THE MOON WOULD EITHER MAKE ME HOWL OR PERHAPS FIND A DISTANT NEW CONSTELLATION.

    LET ME AT LEAST ENJOY THE CHILLIES FOR A NICE REICHEADO. OTHERWISE I MAY HAVE TO STOP EATING PORK – WERE THE DEVILS NOT DRIVEN INTO THEM ?

    SERIOUSLY!

    VIVA!

    RICARDO.

  • Joao Manuel Pereira

    What is this evil eye all about. I do have my own impressions, being fro GOA (Benaulim) and now in Canada. I do not believe in it, absolutely, specially since it derived from an old HINDU belief – I tried to decifer what a GADDI and Gaddiponn was, too!!! – but being a part of Goan tradition, it may worth delving into it.

  • seby

    Those were the happy days and simple goan life how can the new genaration see it or feel it very sad.I still love the dixt version it was nothing but things changed without even spending money it was not for sure Gaddipun and that was what a goan is made of maddo’s and simple life

  • Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

    Dear Seby,
    Thanks for your comments. God bless you and our new generation.
    Much love and prayers, fr. nascimento mascarenhas

  • Evil Eye is a concept that can be looked at in two ways. I have been selling evil eye jewelry online for over ten years now and I can easily differentiate between the customers and why they buy the evil eye protection. This is why I say…two different ways.

    There are some who treat the evil eye as a normal superstition like walking under a ladder, the black cat etc. Like most of us, we might not be extremely superstitious but why walk under the ladder if you can go around…just in case…
    There is also a large number of people who have extreme belief in the evil eye and I have heard various ways of protecting yourself from the evil eye from these customers. They do not just buy evil eye jewelry for looks but they also use it as a protector not something to get rid of the evil eye once it is upon its victim.

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