September 18, 2011

Maljo (Mal Yeaux) | Jharay | Yuh is ah Trini!


Triniglish|Trinididioms spoken and explained #103
Yuh is ah Trini | "Mal Yeaux (Maljo) | Jharay"

This thing has been going on too long; and the child is not getting any better. Leah's parents are at their wits' end. Baby girl has been sick for one week; she is not eating much and vomits whenever she does manage to take a mouthful or two. What is wrong? The doctors don't seem to know what is going on and the problem still exists. Hello people.... Wake up and "Jharay de Chile, she has been struck with the 'evil eye' because she is just to damn cute!" So who would do such a thing to such a young child? 

Well listen up... Mal Yeaux (pronounced Maljo in Trinbago) or as some would say 'bad eye' or 'evil eye' can be cast by just anyone - even your next door neighbor! Just ask any Trinidadian, any type of pain or discomfort can be blamed on good 'ole maljo'. Now when one thinks of this malady, in the traditional sense, the conclusion is that only babies can get maljo... If you have assumed as much then you are so incorrect. 

Think back for a moment to a time when you were a child growing up in Trinidad. Think really hard because I will make reference to something that you have seen and have forgotten or have seen but never really given any thought. Can you recall seeing blue bottles lining the fences of your neighbors property? Some of the blue bottles (like the milk of magnesia bottles) were strategically placed in the four corners of the lot or as I have seen they lined the boundaries of the lot - now why would someone go to all this trouble? Do you think it was a way to decorate, to be unique or just another way to make use of the bottles? NO, no, no, these bottles were placed there to ward off evil spirits and people who carried bad spirits looking for an unsuspecting host -yes the adults believed that they too can become a victim of Maljo! The blue bottles, for some reason unknown to me, were believed to ward off the evil spirits. This could have also been accomplished on a personal level by wearing Jumbie beads. Of course you can remember Jumbie beads... Well can you? They were the red and black beads that came from a pod that children used to play with; they were laced into a bracelet and worn to ward of evil. 

OK, so what happens if you did not take the necessary precautions and for some reason you got the bad eye "mal yeaux hex' and your spirit became very troubled leaving you restless and very ill. Well as a child growing up in Trinidad I have seen the ceremony performed to get rid of this 'spirit sickness'. The ceremony was performed by the more experienced and knowledgeable folks in the village and was usually done as part of an East Indian ritual. The way to get rid of the evil was done via a ritual called "Jharay". 

Now how is the "Jharay done"? Now I had to call a few people to put this one together but each person said something different but a few commonalities stood out. The main component was the number five (5). The materials and sayings were all done in 5's. It is a healing prayer that suppresses the evil eye spell, forces it to leave the person and enter a packet of ingredients that is then burned to destroy the evil or simply send it back to the person from whom it came. This ceremony, as I can recall, was mostly done to remove evil from children. However, there are people in Trinidad who use the Jharay to remove not only evil but sickness from adults. However, we will concern ourselves with the removal of the 'evil eye' that gets the sould of child sick!

The jharay ceremony, as mentioned before, is usually done by an East Indian elderly woman, priest or someone who has done it over the years (usually an older experienced nana or nani). I have read about the use of peacock feathers in the ceremony but I can't remember seeing any feathers used in my neighborhood. Five cocoyea leaves from the coconut tree branch are used. The green leaf is stripped from the stalk (stalk is used in the ceremony). This stalk is the same unit that is used to make cocoyea brooms. These brooms are used in just about any traditional Trini home not only to sweep the house or yard but also to beat out evil spirits (this has to do with all people of Trinidad not just East Indians). Now that the cocoyea stalks have been acquired the rest of ingredients used include the following: 5 bird peppers (pronounced bud peppers), five cloves of garlic, some salt (maybe just a pinch) and in some cases black pepper seeds are added - everything is added in fives. The smaller ingredients are wrapped in  a piece of paper or cloth and passed over the child five times in a circular fashion. The same is done with the cocoyea sticks. The key to the ceremony is the prayer that is done while the jharay is performed. The prayer itself is also said five times. In a traditional sense the prayer is said in Hindi but in the real World the prayer is said in English. The priest or priestess simply tell the evil spirit to return to the sender... After this is done the ingredients that were used in the jharay are burned. This part of the ceremony (the burning) is done as a final right to destroy the evil spell but caution must be taken at this point. No one is supposed to look at the ingredients being burnt. Just as is the case in the bible where fleeing from Sodom Lot's wife disobeyed the advise of the angels and looked back and turned into a pillar of salt...When the burning of the cocoyea sticks and ingredients used in the jharay are being burned one must not look in that direction or else the evil spirit will come to you and attach itself to your soul.

Now that ends the Mal Yeaux and Jharay story. However, I can't tell you that Mal Yeaux (Maljo) is real or even if the ritual of purging the evil eye (Jharay) really works. In order for the jharay to work one has to believe that Mal Yeaux (Maljo) is real. All I can say is that I have been there when the jharay was done and I was told that the child had Mal Yeaux (Maljo). This belief does not only exist in Trinidad but in various islands and countries across the Americas and India. The Spanish lands of South America have similar beliefs - we are not alone. Just keep in mind that when modern medicine can't find a reason for your illness that it could be the cause a symptom of a hex from someone with a 'bad eye" also known as Mal Yeaux (Maljo)! Remember the cure - Jharay! 

Now that Leah's parents have an idea of what could be wrong with her they are still perplexed; indeed to repeat myself they are unable to think what to do. They live in Queens in NYC not in the Caribbean where the ingredients area readily available. I am leaving the comment section open here for advice!

 
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1 Response to " Maljo (Mal Yeaux) | Jharay | Yuh is ah Trini! "
  1. Anonymous said...
    May 17, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    THanks for the explanation. Growing up in an Indian household in Trinidad I have had this done for me many times but there is a shortcut easy way as well, which is to simply take some salt in your hand and circle the person/child five times while saying your prayer, then immediately go and wash the salt away. The whole time you must not talk, aside from the prayer or even say out loud that you are going to Jahray the person, you just do it. I suppose so the spirits are not warned and don't hold on tighter or something. I am sure the other way or probably better but this can be used when it is late at night and you can't find all those ingredients, maybe upset, colicky baby or something...

 

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