Call it desperation, superstition, or genuine faith, a talisman is a symbol of hope. These are popular with almost all religions; a point that was proven when we interacted with the talisman peddler at the VIP road junction.
The English word for talismans comes from the Greek word telesma, meaning sacred object or initiation into mystery. In order to gain their powers, talismans are consecrated during a special ritual, which charges them with spiritual energy. A crucial factor in the efficiency of talismans is the belief of the owner. Superstition apart, there is a scientific story behind the working of these talismans. The metals that these are made of like, copper, bronze and at times even silver are proven to do good to the body when in contact. This is a whole lot of science that western scientists are discovering and something that our old traditions have always upheld, every metal has some cosmic and bodily good in it which when in contact with the human body, helps in processes like stabilising the blood flow, temperature and other health benefits. They are usually worn directly on the body, as pendants, rings or necklaces. In Telugu, we call it a “tayathu”.
For a couple of decades now, the ‘Tayathu Sayibu’; Khurshid Bhai has been quietly selling talismans to believers, wishing them good health and good luck. Seated near Spencer’s on the VIP road junction at his table-cum-stall, he sells them at Rs.10-20 a piece, saying, “Allah is up there watching over us and this is just a materialistic reminder for us to know that there’s a force taking care of you”.
Khurshid is a firm believer of the good effects of talismans. He lives nearby and sets up his shop every day after offering the 05:00 AM namaaz and then doing community service at the mosque. He has a family he needs to feed he reveals, without divulging much. He earns anything between Rs.100-250 per day selling all kinds of talismans and rings. “For generations my family has been in this profession. I get my talismans and other materials from various places all over India. Though I am a Muslim, these talismans have certain properties and materials common with Hindu beliefs too. Hence, I source them from various holy places.”
The road ahead, he feels is tough for them, but he enjoys his job because he is a seller of hope and well-being. Whether it works or not, he says people believe it will do good, and that’s like half the battle won. “You come to me, seeking help and solace for a problem you have, be it financial, mental or health related. You believe in the tayathu I give, and belief is the mother of all hope. So I sell hope, and I am happy I do it every day” he says in closing.