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Every year, in the month Phalgoonu, the Hindoos make the image of Shivu, and worship it for one day, throwing the image the next day into the water. This worship is performed in the night, and is accompanied with singing, dancing, music, feasting, &c. The image worshipped is either that of Shivu with five faces, or that with one face. In the month Maghu also, a festival in honour of Shivu is held for one day, when the image of this god, sitting on a bull, with Parvutee on his knee is worshipped. This form of Shivu is called HuruGouree.
In the month Choitru an abominable festival in honouro this god is celebrated : when many Hindoos, assuming the name of sunyasees, inflict on themselves the greatest cruelties. Some of the chief sunyasees purify themselves for a month previously to these ceremonies, by going to some celebrated temple or image of Shivu, and there eating only once a day, abstaining trom certain gratifications, repeating the name of Shivu, dancing before his image, &c. Other sunyasees perform these preparatory ceremonies for fifteen, and others for only ten days : during which time parties of men and boys dance in the streets, baving their bodies covered with ashes, &c. and a long piece of false hair mixed with mud wrapped round the head like a turban. A large drum accompanies each party, making a horrid din.
On the first day of the festival, these sunyasees cast themselves from a bamboo stage with three resting places, the highest about twenty feet from the ground. From this height these persons cast themselves on iron spikes stuck in bags of straw. These spikes are laid in a reclining posture, and when the person falls they almost constantly fall down instead of entering his body. There are iostances, however, of persons being killed, and others wounded ; but they are very
A few years ago, a person at Kidurpooru, near Calcutta, cast himself on a knife used in cleaning fish, which entered his side, and was the cause of his death. He threw himself from the stage twice on the same day ; the second time, (which was fatal,) to gratify a prostitute with whom he lived. In some villages, several of these stages are erected, and as many as two or three hundred people cast themselves on these. spikes in one day, in the presence of great crowds of people. The worshippers of Shivu make a great boast of the power of their god in preserving bis followers in circumstances of such danger.
The next day is spent in idleness, the sunyasees lying about Shivu's temple, and wandering about like persons half drunk,
or jaded with revelling. On the following day, a large fire is kindled opposite Shivu's temple ; and when the burnt wood has been formed into a great heap, one of the chief sunyasees, with a bunch of canes in his hand, flattens the heap a little, and walks over it with his feet bare. After him, the other sunyasees spread the fire about, walk across it, dance upon it, and then cast the embers into the air, and at each other.
The next morning early, the work of piercing the tongues and sides commences. In the year 1806, I went to Kaleeghatu, in company with two or three friends, to witness these practices : at wbich place we arrived at about 5 o'clock in the morning. We overtook numerous companies who were proceeding thither, having with them drums and other instruments of music ; also spits, canes, and different articles to pierce their tongues and sides. Some with tinkling rings on their ancles, were dancing and exhibiting indecent gestures as they passed aloog, while others rent the air with the sounds of their filthy songs. As we entered the village where the temple of this great goddess is situated, the crowds were so great that we could with difficulty get our vehicles along, and at last were completely blocked up.
We then alighted, and went amongst the crowd. But who can describe a scene like this ?-Here, men of all ages, who intended to have their tongue pierced, or their sides bored, were buying garlands of flowers to hang round their necks, or tie round their heads ;-there, others were carrying their offerings to the goddess ; above the heads of the crowd were seen nothing but the feathers belonging to the great drums, and the instruments of torture which each victim was carrying in his hand. These wretched slaves of superstition were distinguisbed from others, by the quantity of oil rubbed on their bodies, and by streaks and dots of mud all over them : some of the chief men belonging to each company were covered with ashes, or dressed in a most fantastic manner, like the fool among mountebanks. For the sake of low sport. some were dressed as English women : and others had on a hat, to excite the crowd to laugh at Europeans. As soon as we could force our way, we proceeded to the temple of Kalee, where the crowd, inflamed to madness, almost trampled upon one another, to obtain a sight of the idol. to the door way, when a Bramhun, who was one of the owaers of the idol, addressed one of my companions in broken English :-“Money-money-for black mother.” My friend, not much liking the looks of his black mother, declared he
We went up
should give her nothing. From this spot we went into the temple-yard, where two or three blacksmiths had begun the work of piercing the tongues and boring the sides of these infatuated disciples of Shivu. The first man seemed reluctant to hold out his tongue ; but the blacksmith, rubbing it with something like flour, and having a piece of cloth betwixt his fingers, laid firm hold, dragged it out, and, placing his lancet under it in the middle, pierced it through, and let the fellow go. The next person, whose tongue we saw cut, directed the blacksmith to cut it on a contrary side, as it had been already cut twice. This man seemed to go through the business of having his tongue slit with perfect sung froid. The company of natives were entirely unmoved, and the blacksmith, pocketing the trifling fee given by each for whom he did this favour, laughed at the sport. I could not help asking, whether they were not punishing these men for lying. After seeing the operation performed on one or two more, we went to another group, where they were boring the sides. The first we saw undergoing this operation was a boy, who might be twelve or thirteen years old, and who had been brought thither by his elder brother to submit to this cruelty. A thread rubbed with clarified butter was drawn through the skin on each side, with a kind of lancet having an eye like a needle. He did not flinch, but hung by his hands over the shoulders of his brother. I asked a man who had just had his sides bored, why he did this ? He said, he had made a vow to Kalee at a time of dangerous illness, and was now performing this vow : a bye-stander added, it was an act of holiness, or merit. Passing from this group, we saw a man dancing backwards and forwards with two canes run through his sides as thick as a man's little finger. In returning to Calcutta we
saw many with things of different thicknesses thrust through their sides and tongues, and several with the pointed handles of irou shovels, containing fire, sticking in their sides. Into this fire every now and then they threw Indian pitch, which for the moment blazed very high. I saw one man whose singular mode of self-torture struck me much : his breast, arms, and other parts of his body, were entirely covered with pins, as thick as nails or packing needles. This is called vanu-phora.* The person had made a vow to Shivu thus to pierce his body, praying the god to remove some evil frorn him.
Some sunyasees at this festival put swords through the holes in their tongues : others spears ; others thick pieces
* Piercing with arrows.
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, while 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 books 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 high. 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 bimself 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 bard 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
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 tew 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 have heard of one man's swinging three times in one day on different trees ; and a Bramhun 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