At the outset, let me begin by saying that I appreciate the people who tell me to put a kala tikka on my baby or not to share too many happy pictures of my baby on Facebook or ‘utaro her nazar’. I know you mean well and you’re only telling me to do what you would do for your children or grandchildren to protect them from the evil eye or nazar.
For those who do not know what a kala tika for nazar is – it is a black dot on forehead meaning to protect the bearer of the kala tikka from nazar or evil eye. In fact one of the widely searched topics on the internet is how to remove nazar from baby, nazar lagna remedies. People also ask on which leg to wear black thread and how to make black thread anklet. And for those, who are superstitous but want to come across as modern, the latest in vogue is to put the kala tikka somewhere on the body where it’s hidden for eg. below the feet or the area of the face that is covered by hair ! To each their own…
However, every tradition has a reason. Some of them are based on science and some rooted in fear. Some traditions are relevant even today and some are outdated. I have a problem with the ones that are outdated and people are still following them blindly and the ones that are rooted in fear. More so with the latter. Kala tikka is one such belief followed by hindus as well as Muslims. Kala tikka is a black dot on Hindu baby and the same black dot is called a nazar ka teeka in Islam. The truth about the science behind nazar lagna and benefits of wearing black thread is only that it gives peace of mind to a person who fears the concept of nazar.
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I have always been an open person. Ask me a question and you will get an honest answer. I am a feminist who chooses to stay unbranded but will instil the spirit of feminism in my daughter. Every parent and child is different and your parenting style will depend on who you are as a person, your experience with your own parents and the world and your child’s temperament.
I am the person described below – someone who takes risks in order to experience, to learn the lessons this lifetime is meant to teach her because she believes in the universe and trusts the mankind.
I believe in adventure, conquering my fear
to bungee off the highest bridge in the world.
I believe in the untamed thrill of a challenge,
to free fall 10,000 ft above ground level.
I believe in exploring, experiencing
all that the universe meant me to.
I believe in the law of attraction
but most importantly,
I believe in love
To be the above might not be difficult but to be this woman, is a challenge. A woman who is expected to keep quiet and be polite so that she does not offend anyone, a woman who is taught to cover herself top to bottom so that she does not get raped.
Now imagine the same woman, a mother – a mother of a daughter. Complicated right?
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In the first few days of having Mi, the very fear I had conquered in my life seemed to resurface in the form of protecting my child from the ‘evil eye’. A mother will do everything for her child but is also expected to do ‘anything’ that people suggest to protect her child from a variety of things that can befall a perfectly healthy baby. I had parents, relatives, friends, strangers asking me to put kala teeka on my daughter’s face. Some were sympathetic to my cause and suggested I put the kala teeka on her scalp or her feet so that it won’t show (really ?) !! Some mothers told me they didn’t believe in it either, but what’s the harm?
The harm and why I refuse to put a kala tikka on my baby’s body:
- The tradition of putting kala tikka is rooted in fear. I do not fear and I want my daughter to be fearless.
- The tradition of kala tikka is based on the belief that people are inherently evil and will cast an evil eye on your healthy, smiling, happy baby. I, on the other hand believe in the goodness of people. However, where there is good, there is evil and I believe that if 10% people were to cast an evil eye on your child and even if it were to have any ill effects, such effects should be warded off by the best wishes and love that the other 50% people bless your child with.
- I do not believe in blaming external factors for a situation. If my baby lost a significant amount of weight in her first week, it’s not because people cast an evil eye on her health or because her ever trusting mother disclosed her birthweight to her friends, it’s because all babies lose weight in the first week – some more, some less.
- I do not want my daughter to be superstitious. I want her to believe in herself and the power of her body and her mind.
- I want her to know that there is no such thing as a ‘safe option’ in life and she cannot rely on something or someone to protect her. I want her to know that she will fall and bruise her knees and why her parents are not going to rescue her from bullies. I want her to know that her father was not given a bullet proof jacket to protect himself but he was fearless and so was her mother. I want her to understand that a condom is not 100% foolproof and that mastering self defence is much better that carrying a gun and body guards.
- I want her to be independent and to have her own ideas that experience will teach her. To experience, she needs to sail unchartered waters.
- I want to lead by example – I want her to be fearless in exerting these ideas as her own mother did. I want her to remind me of this resolution if I were to ever succumb to fear.
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This is me. And this is the legacy I want to pass on to my daughter. Every parent and their experience is different. Some are able to say ‘no’, some are not. ‘Doing’ is not as important as being aware of what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s important for us as parents to stop and think about the message that our actions send even if it is the small act of putting a kala tikka on baby’s forehead. After all, shaping the next generation in our hands.