a piece of black cloth

Have you ever wondered just how much we believe in superstitions when making our material posessions safer? Especially our cars. Numerous cars / busses / trucks and sometimes even bikes have this little piece of black cloth tied underneath their back bumpers, supposedly to ward off evil(?). Im not sure on the specifics, but from what i’ve been hearing, they have different methods of becoming special pieces, some have duas written and tied in the cloth, while some take them from various mazars claiming peer babas have blessed them before they passed on, while others just do it without anything specific.

Apprently, they prevent the vehicle from being stolen or being involved in an accident. Also used for this purpose, are the first shoes worn by a baby.. you’ll see a lot of cars with these tattered shoes as well in karachi. Dont know about other cities, but this practise is pretty rampant here.. to the extent that i saw a bus the other day with SIX of these little black cloth things on its bumper.

Do they work? Does anyone have personal experience with these? I have’nt got one on my car, but seeing the number of accidents/car snatchings my car has gone through, should i also get one?

12 Comments so far

  1. Original-Anon (unregistered) on June 24th, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

    This post and your engagement post do not belong on the metblog. This is a metro blog and the posts should have something to do with Karachi. These are too general.

  2. mansoor (unregistered) on June 24th, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

    original anon: i beg to differ. I may have missed the mark with the engagement post, but this one is about the practice i’ve seen in here karachi..

  3. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on June 24th, 2006 @ 6:05 pm

    Mansoor, there was a previous post on the same topic some months back. Apparently the consensus in that post was that the black cloth is tied to draw the ‘evil eye’ away from the car and onto the cloth. Hence, the tradition.

  4. Original-Anon (unregistered) on June 24th, 2006 @ 6:07 pm

    Mansoor: By stretching it quite a bit, I will grant that this post has some relevance to Karachi.The basic premise of your post is superstitions.

  5. Inspirex (unregistered) on June 24th, 2006 @ 6:25 pm

    The black cloth serves as a stain of imperfection. A dent in beauty, so to speak. Hence to an extent, it avoids evil eyes. So people believe.

  6. Jamash (unregistered) on June 24th, 2006 @ 7:01 pm

    Yeah I have seen many things dangling from cars specially new ones :) .. I agree with Inspirex in the case of black cloth .. The Origin to this is derived from Hindu culture of pitting a tika to avoid evil eye. I don’t know the theory behind hanging the Shoe, or lemon or what ever else they hang at the back of their cars and i don’t believe in any of it . But ss far as the things related to saints like the flowers of their Shrine, or a part of the Chador is concerned people hang these items usually to their back view mirror and that is done to show their devotion towards the saint or Sufies and I don’t think there is any thing wrong in that cuz that’s not superstition, that devotion.

  7. SWA (unregistered) on June 25th, 2006 @ 10:12 am

    First off, this post is perfectly relevant as it speaks to an aspect of society in Karachi.

    Secondly, Mansoor, I think the only black piece of cloth you should need to protect you against car theft, would be one that has your insurance policy number written on it! best of luck!

  8. IllusionFS (unregistered) on June 25th, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

    Even though I do not believe in superstitions, I too have one black piece of cloth tied at the back of my car. I am just too lazy to take it off.

    I am told it is to protect ‘Nazar-e-Budd’ (Evil Eye)

  9. Kashif (unregistered) on June 25th, 2006 @ 1:03 pm

    Yeah, this is a tradition to ward off the evil eye. I have seen a colleague tying his baby’s old shoe to his new car :) and this is not limited to vehicles, people put crosses on new glass windows etc.

  10. Sooban (unregistered) on June 25th, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

    i thot they put crosses on glasses to let ppl knw that there is glass there, and not to go bumping into it.
    i mean if its new, you wouldnt knw the difference cause it d be so clear, you might jus walk right thru it [read end up embarassing yourself]

    as for posts being deemed as not related to karachi , i d say anythin that is related to karachi or ppl living here should go. but since there is confusion. someone lay down guidlines , if not already done.

  11. danny (unregistered) on June 27th, 2006 @ 12:25 am

    You mentioned that duas are sometimes written on these black cloths — would it not be disrepectful to drag it across the road under your car then? Seems it might be a better idea to keep the cloth somewhere *inside* the car.

  12. mansoor (unregistered) on June 27th, 2006 @ 10:49 am

    kashif: even i thought crosses were put on windows so that people dont crash into them. I’ll have to look into that

    danny: my thoughts precisely! funny thing is, people actually have those ‘chaddars’ you get at mazars which are drapped over the burial site of the peerbaba in the trunks of their cars as well. :S

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