-Embracing Bengali Folk Islam & Complex Lived Experiences In The Diaspora:

I remember in a time of hardship when I was a teenager, my mother wrote out the Yasin Sura from the Quran, written in Arabic and with red ink on a blank sheet of paper. She folded it up and asked me to look for a boulder to stick it under. But none was around so she opted to find the heaviest glass vase we had and stick it underneath until the time of hardship passed. Many times, I remember her lighting incense and waving the smoke into all the corners of the house to clear the air for the angels. And I remember stories of my grandmother and her stone washing ritual with milk. I never understood the significance of it until I read about folk rituals connected to nature and the spirits and power which live in stones. And more stories of magic, witchcraft, healers and jinn possessions.

“It is equally important not to easily dismiss or ridicule other ways of knowing.”

I believe many of these things are dismissed as silly superstitions. And while it is important not to exoticize such things, it is equally important not to easily dismiss or ridicule other ways of knowing. Such knowledge of the supernatural and natural is connected to the local tantric, body centric, cultures which I now clearly recognize in my family’s vocabulary and ways of living. Cut hair, baby teeth, and clipped fingernails would be returned and buried back to the earth because, as my mother would say, “you never know who may be after you to possess you. The earth will protect it.”

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