Envy in the Egyptian Culture

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Once Egyptians hear the word envy, you can clearly observe signs of anxiety and tension begin to appear, and some may start to mumble some words that protect them. Envy is considered a great enemy for Egyptians, where they accuse it of all their problems and the main cause of diseases and losses, even if the cause is known and physical.

The fear of envy has prompted many people to use either religious means to prevent it, as reciting some verses from the Quran or by going to the church to seek protection against it, or by using many other different means such as spraying water and salt on the door of the house, especially when the family believes that envy comes from the neighbors.

One of the most famous means of prevention of envy is the blue bead or as it is called in Arabic “kharaza zara’a”. It is always found on the doors of the houses or hanged on the wall in small shops to protect the house or shop. Mothers may make their children wear a string with this blue bead, they say that this act may protect the children from the eye of the envious.

Another way is “the palm”, which is placed in the car or on the door of the house. This is an Egyptian method used when someone else talks in front of you about your property, or when a child is born or when you get a car or anything else. People would raise their hands and say “Khamsa w khmesa” which refers to the five fingers of the hand.

Egyptians also use a doll called “the envy bride”, an old popular custom inherited by generations. This doll is a paper in a bride’s shape, and then poked with a pin, along with repeating words such as “Your rise from the eye of all who have seen you or not prayed”. Then, they poke the doll and every person that they suspect of being envious, especially for children. Finally, the doll is burnt in order to kill the power of envy.

Another way to protect from envy is by using incense, when the mother fills the incense burner and then spreads it in all corners of the house, especially on Friday, as most of the family gather then. Usually mothers do that to protect the family members from envy. All these methods are used by Egyptians, especially in the local neighborhoods and in the countryside, where many stories spread about someone envious who caused the death of cattle, or caused an illness of children, or even the loss of money for some families, and also, about the necessity to protect from envy.

Egyptians use the palm to protect them from envy:
When they want to protect their things
Every morning
To protect their children
When someone talks about their things

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