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Anyone know the answer to this………….

May 6, 2009

I have seen quite a few young children around Delhi with very dark lines under their eyes. I finally got some pictures of these beautiful children and I am wondering if anyone knows what this is for……….





Tomorrow I will share with you just how it was that I got to meet these kids.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Swati permalink
    May 18, 2009 1:37 pm

    This is where Fashion industry gets ideas from :P. Check the link below for use of khol/kajal for smokey eye look.

  2. May 11, 2009 10:48 pm

    I’m loving the beautiful children you’ve photographed, Ellen!

  3. Christy y. permalink
    May 9, 2009 11:15 pm

    Ah! I could sign up for emal updates! Thanks!

    Love all the pics Ellen!

  4. May 7, 2009 5:14 pm

    What is surma made of?


    Here’s a blog you might be interested in reading. It’s a from a couple of American expatriates living in bangalore.

  5. lisa permalink
    May 7, 2009 12:32 pm

    I just love these photos. You are doing such a great job keeping us informed Ellen. I look forward to your emails, and when I check email and see one from AReasonToWrite, I usually open that one first!

  6. May 7, 2009 10:24 am

    Badass – they are just beautiful!

    Naomi – it’s yet another place I intend to drag you along too! 😎

    Deep – that is fascinating – thank you – but I think it makes them look even prettier or at least more intriguing!

    M – thanks for all the details – I knew there had to be a story behind it!

  7. May 7, 2009 9:55 am

    It’s kohl – the original version of it anyway – kajal is the Hindi word for it. (kohl is supposed to be soot from a ghee-burning lamp, mixed with butter or pure coconut oil – modern versions have other fancy sounding chemicals in them instead :-))

    Kohl is used as a beautifying agent usually, but its primary purpose in babies used to be to “cool” the eyes down – cut down glare etc. It is applied on the lower lash line, and since the base of the kohl is oily, it runs in hot weather, and smudges around the eyes. It used to be common for both sexes in N.India, only females in the South.
    Now, modern educated parents don’t put kohl in babies’ eyes at all, so it is only seen in rural areas, or among working-class kids.

    I used to get my kajal from India, my MIL knew someone who made it the old-fashioned way, but she died and I now use commercial kohls – nowhere as good, but my eyes burn without it – have used it all my life.

    BTW, kohl is sometimes confused with surma – surma (original version) is antimony based, and obviously bad for the eyes – surma is used the same way as kohl – applies to lower and upper lash lines, much like eye-liner is now. Most people know of surma’s bad effects nowadays, and don’t use it – but I do know that some communities do.


  8. May 7, 2009 8:31 am

    Also, girls mostly just look pretty with kajal on! He he!

  9. May 7, 2009 8:29 am

    Nopes, it not coal. It’s kinda like eye liner? If that makes any sense? It’s called kajal. Interestingly, that what my full name, Deepanjan, means. Long story behind kajal is, you know when you burn oil lamps you get soot? That soot used to be used as an eyeliner in the old times, I guess we call it “lamp black”, or something. Nowadays I guess most people just use commercially manufactured kajal.

    The belief is that if someone is too pretty, and people say so, then the person may get jinxed. So, I think the black is to ward that off. I guess you’ve noticed stuff like shoes or slippers tied to the fenders of trucks etc? That’s for the same thing.

    Ask your Hindi teacher the meaning of “buri nazar waaley, tera mu kaala”, and you’ll get the whole story behind this superstition. That’s something you see written on a lot of trucks, kinda our version of bumper stickers.

  10. May 7, 2009 5:58 am

    Oh those pictures just make my heart smile. I can’t wait until tomorrow when you share the story. They are beautiful!

  11. May 7, 2009 5:31 am

    Interesting. Cute kids, though.

  12. May 6, 2009 11:54 pm

    Monika – it is coal that they use?

    Lola – I know – they are just gorgeous

    Jurate – they are jealous worthy for sure!

  13. May 6, 2009 11:35 pm

    I have heard the explanation about putting black dots on kids faces to protect them from evil eye, so that no one (evil spirits or gods) gets jealous of how cute and perfect they are :o)

    But I was by Indians that some parents put those thick lines under kids eyes because they believe that is also good for the eyes…

  14. May 6, 2009 11:23 pm

    I don’t understand that explanation at all, but they are beautiful children for sure.

  15. May 6, 2009 10:55 pm

    oh this… u know in india they believe in something called “nazar” basically when someone is cute and people say that it will be jinxed kinds and they say that anything black prevents from this specially kajal (kohl)

    so people put this thick lines to prevent their kids, some also put big black rounds on the face

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