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Sunday, September 16, 2012

‘The Book of Joshua’ by Tanya Mendonsa

Cleansing

"There is a superstition in Goa about the evil eye, and many people are believed to have it. Some people are said to possess it inadvertently, without actually bearing any ill will towards the victim. My grandmother had told me amazing stories about this and how, after the power of the evil eye had been 'removed' by someone qualified to do it, the victim had instantly recovered. However, a person who does possess the evil eye and who lays that eye on someone he or she – it generally turns out to be 'she' – is jealous of, often ends up making the victim fall ill or prey to some kind of misfortune. A friend suggested that we would lose nothing by trying to remove the evil eye from Josh if, indeed, he had been subjected to it.'

"There are many methods of removing the curse. We paid for the services of one of the village women who was reputed to be an expert in these matters. She sat Joshua on the green picnic table in our garden and lit a small fire beside it. Chanting in Konkani, the local language, she then waved handfuls of red chillies in circles in front of his face before moving her hands all over his body, as if cleansing it of the infection. The chillies were flung into the fire. More chanting accompanied by more ritual cleansing movements with herbal leaves and lemons followed, with the woman paying special attention to the eyes. Josh was thrilled at all the attention, but nothing changed."

(p. 133, 'The Book of Joshua' by Tanya Mendonsa – Harper)

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