Page images

sacrifice of not less than twelve fowls in one year and two goats in the next year and so on in each alternate year. Each family, as I have already said, contributes four fowls for each hunting net owned by it, and for the price of the two goats a proportionate subscription is collected by the Kōṭwär from each family. The Naya officiates as the sacrificer. An open space at one extremity of the tanda is cleaned with cowdug or mud and water by a woman of the Nāyā's family who after ablutions goes there with water in a new vessel. After cleaning the spot with the water brought in the new earthen jar, she places on the ground thus cleaned a new winnowing basket containing about a seer (two lbs.) of āruā rice, a little vermillion, a little salt, a few pieces of turmeric and a few chillies, and goes away. The Nāyā holding another sup or winnowing basket in his hand now goes to the thaan and leaves it there and then goes to some stream or spring for ablution. On his return, he takes the sup and taking the māti with him goes to the place where sacrifices are to be offered and there asks the māti to put himself in his accustomed hypnotic state. The māti goes on muttering his mantras until he begins to swing his head (jhupnā) and works himself up into something like a frenzy, when he is believed to be possessed by some spirit. The Nuyā now places a little rice from his winnowing basket on the palm of the māti's hand and asks him, "Who art thou ?" The mati, or rather the spirit that has possessed him, replies "I am such and such thut (names)." Then the Nāyā tells him, "Do thou examine the rice and see whether the sacrifices we are going to offer on this day of Magh (or Asarh) will bring us luck. Thou art a spirit and of course seest future events. " The spirit through the mouth of the māti says, "Come boys, it will be all right. Begin your sacrifices. You will have nothing to fear." It is said that on such occasions, the māti or rather the spirit that comes to him invariably predicts success. The goat or fowls to be sacrificed are next brought to the māti for examination. The Naya tells him, "Examine these too; see

1 Generally it is either the Sipahi bhût, or Lügü, or Mahādeo, or Devi, who is believed to possess the māti on such cecasions.

whether they are sound or not; and whether they will please the deities." The mati takes up in his arms one of the fowls or the goat, as the case may be, and says accordingly,—“ Go to ; these are all right; begin your sacrifices." Now the Naya takes a little water in his right hand and sprinkles it on the head and body of each of the goats or fowl. He next puts three marks of vermillion (sindur) on the ground and a sindūr mark on the head and a sindūr mark on each of the two horns of the goats; in the case of fowls a sindur mark is made on the head of each. Now the Nāyā with his face turned to the east and one of the goats or fowls, as the case may be, in his arms stands on his left leg with the right leg placed behind it. He prays, "To-day in this month of Magh (or Asarh) we are offering the promised (mānilā) sacrifices to all the Sāngi bhūts. May the tanda remain in health and happiness. May no disease or other ill enter the tanda ". He then sits down on his feet, places the goat or fowl to his left, and asks all the villagers to sprinkle rice. The other goat or fowls, as the case may be, are placed by its side. All present sprinkle on the victims rice from the sup. Then the Nāyā invokes all the gods whose names he.can call up, and prays,-" To-day in this month of Magh, we call upon you, Oh Sängi bhūts, do ye command and control (hānkão, dābāo) all bhūts from outside (upria chapria). You verily are the masters (maliks, i.e, over other bhuts). Do not allow disease and calamity to approach the tanda. Then the victims are offered up by cutting their throats with an axe in the case of goats and with a knife in the case of fowls. The red goat 1 is sacrificed before the black one. The victim's head is put down on the ground, a little blood from the body is dropped on this head, and then more blood is poured on a leaf-cup. When all the blood in the body has been thus let into the leaf-cup, the body is put aside. The other victims are dealt with in turn in the same way. Then the heads of the sacrificed goats or fowls are taken up, the hair on them is burnt, and the meat chopped into pieces. In the case of the goats, the brains of the red goat are mixed with 1 The red goat is said to be really for Dürgå and the black one for K ālī.

[ocr errors]

ārua rice and wrapped up in two sal leaves and roasted by placing burning charcoal above and under this bundle. The roasted brains are taken to the spot where the sacrifices were offered and a little of it is taken with his nails by the Nāyā and offered to the Sungi-bhūts; while offering it, the Nayā says, "Here I offer you the head and neck (muri-khandi) of the goats. We shall eat it and so will you too." 1Only the Nāyā and the men of his clan in the tanda may eat this roasted brain. The flesh of the head of the red goat is boiled in water with āruā rice and a little oil and turmeric. This too may be eaten only by the Naya and the men of his clan in the tanda. The entrails, lungs and heart of the victims can be eaten only by the women of the Naya's clan. The rest of the flesh of the red goat, as also the flesh of the head and body of the black goat, is divided among all the families of the ṭāndā, including the Nāyā's family, and they take their respective shares home. The fowls sacrificed to the Sangi-bhūts are dealt with in the same

as the black goat. Women may on no account partake of the meat of the head either of any fowls or goats or other animals offered to any deity or even of those obtained by hunting, although they may eat the meat of fowls or animals purchased from outside the tānḍā and not sacrificed to any deity. The Sangi-bhūts, as I have said, are characterized as ārhāizs or spirits possessing power over other spirits.

Sacrifices to Ningchha Bhuts.-With the exception of some minor ailments, most of the ills that flesh is heir to is attributed by the Birhōr to the action of spirits. In all cases of sickness, the assistance of the mati is sought; and he finds out either by the Khāri-hōrā or by the dub-hōra process described above, or by rubbing a little oil on a sal leaf and looking in it for the reflection of the hut which is responsible for the illness. If it is a bhut of the family who has caused the trouble the customary sacrifices to him are offered. If, however, it is a bhut from outside the house, the māti declares from which direction of the compass it has come and indicates the number and colour of the

The idea appears to be that of " cating with the gods ".

fowls it requires. The ningchha ceremony is now performed by the mati in the following manner. He takes up each fowl, waves it three times round the head of the patient, places some ārūā rice on the extended palm of the patient's hand, and the fowl is made to eat a little of this rice, The māti orders the fowl, saying, "So long you have given trouble. Get hence from to-day. Here are offerings for you. Do not give further trouble." The mati with a companion now takes the fowl in the direction from which the afflicting spirit is believed to have come, to the common boundary of two settlements or villages. While the māti goes out of the hut of the sick man, the latter throws away the rice remaining in his hand in the direction in which the māti goes with the fowl. Arrived at the boundary of two settlements, the māti sits down with bis face to the east, puts three marks of vermilion on the ground, and drops grains of rice over the head of the fowl. While the fowl eats the rice as it falls on the ground, the māti kills the fowl by twisting its head with his hands. The head thus torn off from the body is placed on the ground, and blood from the body is dropped over it by the māti while he addresses the spirit thus, "To-day I offer thee this (sacrifice); do not come to so and so's (names the head of the sick man's family) house again. If thou comest again to the house, curse (talak) be on thee." Now the māti stands up with his face turned in the direction of the tanda and with legs apart, and through the space between the two legs throws away the body of the fowl behind him in the direction from which the bhut is supposed to have come. Thus is the spirit driven away; and the māli makes water on a leaf-cup, and pours the urine from the cup on the severed head of the fowl, saying-" Here is liquor for thee. Do not approach the sick man again." The body of the fowl (or fowls) is now taken away by the māti and his companion to some place other than that of the sick man's hut, roast it and eat it.

When the mānitā bhūt of some other family is found by the māti to have caused the trouble, the sacrifices required by the bhūt are provided, and the māti after waving them three times

over the head of the patient and making them eat rice-grains from the hands of the patient as described above scoretly takes cut the fowls, kills them by twisting their heads, and leaves the severed beads near the hut of the family whose bhut caused the sickness.

Driving away spirits by force.-Another method by which a māti detects and drives back a mischievous spirit not belonging to the tanda is this. The māti with a cane in hand goes to bed thinking of the spirit which is causing illness, and then in a dream he sees the bhut and at once gets up and chases it out of the village.


The Uthu section of the Birhōrs, whose time is entirely taken up in the quest for food and precautions against the consequent dangers from natural and supernatural sources, have no leisure to in lulge in regular religious festival. From year's end to year's end they are in a state of almost constant anxiety for securing food. The Jaghis, however, particularly those amongst them who have taken to regular cultivation of land, have periods of respite from incessant struggle for existence, when hopeful anticipations of plenty of food or the actual acquisition of such food make them rejoice, and they express their joyfulness and thanksgiving in festivals which they appear to have adopted from their more civilized neighbours and congeners, the Mundas and the Santāls. These festivals or parōbs are the Soso-Bōnga and Nawājām festivals in the month of Aṣārh (July), the Karam and Jitia in the month of Bhado (September), Dasai in Aswin (October) and Sōhōrāi in Kārtik (November). These festivals have not all been accepted by every Jaghi group. Some clans have adopted some but not others, and others have accepted one or more of these festivals but not the rest. Thus I have found the Shamjhākoā and Mūrūm clans that I know observing only the Karam and Sōhōrai festivals but not the Jitia nor the Dūsaipurobs. The Laṭhā, Chauli Hembrōm, Nagpuria, Turi Mahli, and Gidhi clans have adopted the Karam but not the other festivals. The A ndi clan have adopted the Jiția and Sōkōrāi

« PreviousContinue »