The Nimbu-Mirchi tradition in India is more of a superstition – with people following it blindly so that they can ward off evil eye. But how did this begin?
Remember being stuck at a signal in traffic and buying nimbu-mirchi from the small child who sells it, marketing is a protection from the evil-eye? Most people in India, tie a nimbu-mirchi totka whenever they buy something new to safeguard themselves. But how can lemon and chilli protect us from evil eye? It’s just a mentality.
In ancient India, the tradition began using 7 chillies and 1 lemon. As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Lakshmi – the Goddess of prosperity and well-being has a sister – Alakshmi who is the Goddess of poverty and suffering. Lakshmi likes sweets while Alakshmi likes sour things – thus the lemon. People in the ancient India believed that Alakshmi would eat the nimbi-mirchi and go away from their homes and lives, without causing harm. That is why they tied the ‘nazar battoo’ on their possessions.
There is a bit of science behind the lemon-chilli combination as they are known to be naturally occurring disinfectants that help purify the air around you – thereby aiding good health. Logically, if we insert a thread into the lemon and chilli, we are helping some of their juices to come out which might also act as pest-repellents. These juices that were released may gradually vaporise into the air, thereby purifying it. But who knows that these days? People do it because other people do it – the reason behind this is unknown to most.
While this might just be plain folklore, there is one more story that might be a bit more convincing for the rational mind. Centuries ago, people walked on foot to get from one place to another – ending up walking long distances through forests that many times had no food with a lurking danger of wild animals. The carried nimbu mirchi with them. The lemon – would keep them hydrated while the chilli could be eaten to ascertain if the snake that bit the person was venomous or not. When a person bit on a chilli and couldn’t taste it, it would often mean that the snake was poisonous and numbed the person’s nerves.
There is another perspective to this long-standing tradition. Whatever may be the reason to use lemon and chilli in the ancient past, today it does the work of a placebo. Placebos are pills without any chemical properties – empty medicines – given to patients so that they think that they are taking the medicines and getting better when in reality they are getting better on their own. Similarly, the use of lemon and chilli make people feel safer and protected, thereby reducing their anxiety about untoward events.
Make sure, you do not succumb to fear and superstition. Question, why. Beginning today!
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