Andhra Pradesh

Graduates ward off ‘evil eye’ for a living as pandemic robs them of jobs

Two youth performing the ‘dishti removal’ ritual at Nagari in Chittoor district.

Two youth performing the ‘dishti removal’ ritual at Nagari in Chittoor district.

Kiran, a B.Tech graduate from a forest-fringe village in Narayanavanam mandal in Chittoor district, was happy after getting a job at a supermarket in Bengaluru. Being the sole bread winner of his family, this job meant everything to him.

The nation-wide lockdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic last year dashed his hopes as he lost his job. However, he resumed his job after the situation eased. But he lost it again after Bengaluru emerged a COVID hotspot during the second wave of pandemic and he had to return to his native village.

Not left with any option, he joined Ravi, his friend at village and a school dropout as an assistant. The new job is ‘trainee dishti remover’ and the salary ₹2,000 per week. The ‘dishti removal’ ritual is high in demand on Fridays, Sundays and Amavasyas in his locality.

“I can try for some other job. But it is a long process with no guarantee and I have to run my family. It is my prime responsibility is to support my parents, and two unmarried sisters,” says Mr. Kiran.

The partial lockdowns and night curfews elsewhere in metropolitan cities continue to throw many youth out of jobs and they return to their native places with nothing in their hands. Post-lockdown, many families and shops in both urban and semi-urban areas are eager to get the ‘dishti’ (evil eye) removed from their premises and this is one of the best opportunities the likes of Mr. Kiran have as of now.

As against the accessibility of a dozen men to perform ‘dishti removal’ in the limits of municipal corporations such as Tirupati or Chittoor and buzzing towns like Madanapalle, Puttur, Nagari or Srikalahasti, the COVID predicament is prompted the prople from Satyavedu to Kuppam, along the Chittoor-Tamil Nadu border, to perform the ritual.

“Several small businesses have been closed due to pandemic. Getting job at new firms is far cry. My friend has initiated me into dishti removal,” says Venkat (21), who completed his Intermediate from Satyavedu mandal. Many graduates are becoming assistants for the rituals in the rural side of Chittoor district, after losing hope of migrating to Chennai or Bengaluru.

‘Stop-gap arrangement’

“More people want to perform the ritual as the pandemic is rearing its ugly head. It is better to do this than sitting at home idle, which I can not afford to. Of course, it is a stop-gap arrangement. I will start look for jobs as the COVID impact subsides a little,” says Narasimha (26), a B.Com graduate from K.V.B. Puram mandal.


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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 2:54:01 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/graduates-ward-off-evil-eye-for-a-living-as-pandemic-robs-them-of-jobs/article34397164.ece