« AnteriorContinuar »
of round iron, which they call arrows. Many, as a bravado, put other things through their tongues, as living snakes, bamboos, ramrods, &c. Others, to excite the attention of the crowd still more, procure images of houses, gods, temples, &c. and placing them on a single bamboo, hold them up in their hands, and put the bamboo through their tongues. In 1805, at Calcutta, a few base fellows made a bamboo stage, placed a prostitute upon it, and carried her through the streets, her paramour accompanying them, having one of her ancle ornaments in the slit of his tongue. Another year, a man put his finger through the tongue of another person, and they went along dancing and making indecent gestures together. Others put bamboos, ropes, canes, the stalk of a climbing plant, the long tube of the hooka, &c. through their sides, and rubbing these things with oil, wbile two persons go before, and two behind to hold the ends of the things which have been passed through the sides, they dance backwards and forwards, making indecent gestures. These people pass through the streets with these marks of self-torture upon them, followed by crowds of idle people. They are paid by the towns or villages where these acts are perfomed, and a levy is made on the inhabitants to defray the expense. On the evening of this day, some supyasees pierce the skin of their forcheads, and place a rod of iron in it as a socket, and on this rod fasten a lamp, which is kept burning all night. The persons bearing these lamps sit all night in or near Shivu's temple, occasionally calling upon this god by different names. On the same evening, different parties of sunyasees hold conversations respecting Shivu in verse.
On the following day, in the afternoon, the ceremony Galled Churuku, or the swinging by hooks fastened in the back, is performed. The posts are erected in some open place in the town or suburbs ; they are generally fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five cubits bigh. In some places a kind of worship is paid at the foot of the tree to Shivu, when two pigeons are let loose, or slain. In other parts, i. e. in the neighborhood of Calcutta, the worship of Shivu is performed at his temple ; after which the crowd proceed to the swinging posts, and commence the horrid work of torture.The man who is to swing prostrates himself before the tree, and a person, with his dusty fingers, makes a mark where the hooks are to be put. Another person immediately gives him a smart slap on the back, and pinches up the skin hard with his thumb and fingers ; while another thrusts the book through, taking hold of about an inch of the skin ; the other
hook is then in like manner put through the skin on the other side of the back, and the man gets up on his feet. As he is rising, some water is thrown in his face. He then mounts on a man's back, or is elevated in some other way; and the strings which are attached to the hooks in his back are tied to the rope at one end of the horizontal bamboo, and the rope at the other end is held by several men, who, drawing it down, raise up the end on which the man swings, and by their running round with the rope the machine is turned. In swinging, the man describes a circle of about thirty feet diameter. Some swing only a few minutes, others half an hour or more : I have heard of men who continued swinging for hours. In the southern parts of Bengal a piece of cloth is wrapt round the body underneath the hooks, lest the flesh should tear, and the wretch fall, and be dashed to pieces ; but the whole weight of the body rests on the hooks. Some of these persons take the wooden pipe, and smoke while swinging, as though insensible of the least pain. Others take up fruit in their hands, and either eat it or throw it among the crowd. On one occasion, in the north of Bengal, a man took a large piece of wood in his mouth, and swung for a considerable time without any cloth round his body to preserve him, should the flesh of his back tear. On some occasions, these sunyasees have hooks run through their thighs as well as backs. About the year 1800, five women swung in this manner, with hooks through their backs and thighs, at Kidurpooru, near Calcutta. It is not very uncommon for the flesh to tear, and the person to fall; instances are related of such persons perishing on the spot. A few years ago, a man fell from the post at Kidurpooru, while whirling round with great rapidity; and falling on a poor woman who was selling parched rice, killed her on the spot ; the man died the next day. At a village near Buljbuj, some years since, the swing fell, and broke a man's leg. The man who was upon it, as soon as he was loosed, ran to another tree, was drawn up, and whirled round again, as though nothing had happened. I bave heard of one man's swinging three times in one day on different trees ; and a Brambun assured me, that he had seen four men swing on one tree ; while swinging, this tree was carried round the field by the crowd.
On the day of swinging, in some places, a sunyasee is laid before the temple of Shivu as dead, and is afterwards carried to the place where they burn the dead. Here they read many incantations and perform certain ceremonies, after which the supposed dead sunyasee arises, when they dance around bim, proclaiming the name of Shivu.
The next morning the sunyasees go to Shivu's temple, and perform worship to him, when they take off the poita which they had worn during the festival. On this day, they beg, or take from their houses, a quantity of rice, and other things, which they make into a kind of frumenty, in the place where they burn the dead. These things they offer, with some burnt fish, to departed ghosts.
Each day of the festival the sunyasees worship the sun, pouring water, flowers, &c. on a clay image of the alligator, repeating muntrus.
THE HEAVEN of Shivu is very resplendent with gems, pearls, coral, gold, silver, &c. Here reside numerous gods, giants, heavenly choristers, dancers, courtezans, and sages. Flowers of every season are constantly in bloom bere ; whilst the waters of the heavenly Ganges glide along in purling streams. The seasons are uninterruptedly enjoyed ; and on a golden throne, adorned with jewels, sit Shivu and Doorga engaged in eternal conversation.
Brunnha.—The Brambuns, in their morning and evening worship, repeat an incantation, containing a description of the image of Brumba ; at noon they perform an act of worship in honour of this god, presenting to him sometimes a single flower ; at the time of a burnt offering clarified butter is pre. sented to Brumba. In the month of Maghu, at the full mann, an earthern image of this god is worshipped, with that of Shivu on bis right hand, and that of Vishnoo on bis left. This festival lasts only one day, and the three gods are, the next day, thrown into the river. This worship is accompanied with songs, dances, music, &c. as at all other festivals ; but the worship of Brumha is most frequently celebrated by a number of young men of the baser sort, who defray the expences by a subscription.-Bloody sacrifices are never offered to Brumha.
The heaven of Brumha is 800 miles long, 400 broad, and 40 high. Narudu, when attempting to describe this heaven, declared himself utterly incompetent to the task ; that he could not do it in two hundred years ; that it contained in a superior degree all that was in the other heavens ; and that whatever existed in the creation of Brumha on earth, from the smallest insect to the largest animal, was to be found there.
Indru.--The worship of Indru is celebrated annually, in the day time, on the 14th of the lunar month Bhadru. The usual ceremonies of worship are accompanied with singing, music, dancing, &c. In Bengal the greater number of those who keep this festival are women ; in whose names the cer. emonies are performed by officiating Bramhuns. It lasts one day, after which the image is thrown into ihe river. This festival, which is accompapied with the greatest festivities, is celebrated all over Bengal; each one repeating it annually during fourteen years. On the day of worship, a few blades of doorva grass are tied round the right arm of a man, and the left of a woman. Some persons wear this string, which contains fourteen knots, fer a month after the festival is over. Fourteen kinds of fruit, fourteen cakes, &c. must be presented to the image. This worship is performed for the purpose of procuring riches, or a house, or a son, or pleasure, or a residence after death in lodru's heaven.
lodru is supposed to preside over the elements, so that in times of drought, prayers are addressed to him as the giver of rain.
Indru's heaven is thus described ; This heaven was made by Vishwu-kurmu, the architect of the gods. “It is 800 miles in circumference, and 40 miles high ; its pillars are composed of diamonds; all its elevated seats, beds, &c. are of gold ; its palaces are also of gold. It is so ornamented with all kinds of precious stones, jasper, chrysolite, sapphire, emeralds, &c. that it exceeds in splendour the brightness of twelve suds united. It is surrounded with gardens and forests, containing among other trees the parijatu, the fragrance of the flowers of which extends 300 miles, that is, fills the whole heaven. In the pleasure grounds are pools of water, warm in winter, and cold in summer, abounding with fish, waterfowl, water-lilies, &c. the landing places of which are of gold. All kinds of trees and flowering shrubs abound in these gardens. The winds are most refreshing, never boisterous; and the heat of the sun is never oppressive. Gods, sages, the winds, clouds, Olravutu, (Indru's elephant,) and other celestial beings, dwell in this heaven. The inhabitants are continually entertained with songs, dances, music, and every species of mirth. Neither sickness, sorrow, nor sudden death, are found in these regions, nor are its inhabitants affected with hunger or thirst.
Sooryu, the sun, is worshipped daily by the Brahmins, when flowers, &c. are offered, accompanied with incantations.
On a Sunday, at the rising of the sun, in any month, but especially in the month of Maghu, a number of persons, chiefly women, perform the worship of Sooryu :-The sun is annually worshipped on the first Sunday in the month Maghu. The name of this worship is called Dhurmubhaoo, or Sooryu-bhaoo. The ceremonies vary in different places, but in the district of Calcutta the women appear to be the principal actors, though none are excluded ; and even Mussulmen are so far Hindooized as to join in the idolatry. “I saw it once," says a friend who informed me, “thus conducted :at the dawn of the morning a great number of offerings were carried into the open field, and placed in a row. The offerings consisted of fruits, sweet-meats, pigeons, and kids. A small pot was placed by each person's offering, cuntaining about a pint and a half of water. A device made of waterplant, a species of Millingtonia, intended to represent the sun, was placed on the edge of the pot, and a small twig of the mango-tree, with a few leaves on it, put into it, as people in England keep flowers. The pot with all its appendages represented the sun perhaps as the vivifier of nature. By each offering also was placed (what shall I call it ?) an incensealtar, or censer, called dhoonabhee. It resembled a chafing-dish, made of copper, and stood upon a pedestal about a foot long. It contained coals of fire ; and a kind of incense from time to time, was thrown into it, principally the pitch of the salu-tree, called dhoona. Near each offering was placed a lamp, which was kept burning all day. The women also took their station near the offerings. Al sun-rise they walked four times round the whole row of offerings, with the right hand towards them, and the smoking dhoonachees placed on their heads : after which they resumed their stations again, where they continued in an erect posture, fasting the whole day, occasionally throwing a little incense into the dhoonachee.. Towards evening the Bramhun who attended the ceremony threw the pigeons up into the air ; wbich, being young, could not fly too far, and were scrambled for and carried away by the crowd. The officiating bramhun perforated the ears of the kids with a needle ; after which they were seized by the first person who touched them. About sun set the officers again took up the smoking dhoonachees, and made three circuits round the rows of offerings. After this the offerings and lighted lamps were taken away by their respective owners, who threw the lamps into a pool of water."