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festivals but not the Karam and the Dasai parōbs. The Hembrōm clan has adopted the Dasai but not the other festivals and the Bhuiyā, Khāngār and Gerōã clans have adopted the Sōhōrāi but not the other three festivals. All the landed Jaghi Birhōrs that I have known have, however, adopted from the Mundās and other neighbours the Sōsō Bōnga and the Nawajōm festivals. The rites observed in these festivals are given below.
The Sōsō-Bōngå festival.—One evening in Asārh (July) after transplantation of the paddy seedlings is finished, the cultivator brings a few branches of the sōsō (semicarpis anacardium) plant and calls in a person who has learnt the details of the ceremony. The courtyard (āngān) of the house is cleaned with water mixed with cowdung, and the figure of a square is drawn with rice-flour in one part of the ängan. Around the square on each side of it three or five figures of the shape of petals of flowers are drawn with coal-dust; and above each of these petals two similar petal-like figures are drawn one above another, the middle row with red earth and the uppermost row with coal-dust. A winnowing basket (sup) with a hen's egg and a twig of the sōsō plant on it is placed before him. The man now recites the Asur legend and at the same time goes on rubbing the rice on the sup with his hand. At the end he calls upon the Evil Eye to give up its victims. The yolk of the egg is offered to Singbōngā and mixed with rice and baked. Next morning one of the sōsō branches are planted in the manure pit of the cultivator and one in each of his cultivated fields to ward off the Evil Eye from the crops.
Nawa Jom.-This is the ceremony of eating the New Rice. On the morning following the Sōsō-bōngā festival, the owner of the fields, on his return from the fields after planting the sōsō branches, bathes and comes home. In the meanwhile his wife has cleaned the ängan again with cowdung and water and gathered some fresh ōsō leaves and some new upland (gōṛā) rice from a neighbour's field, threshed the rice and made chiură (flattened rice) of it. A little milk in a jug or cup, some chiură on sōsō leaves, and molasses (gür) and clarified butter (ghi) on leaf-cups
are placed in the angan where the man first takes up the jug of milk in his hand in a standing posture goes on dropping the milk on the chiuri placed on the ground over sōsō leaves. As he drops the milk he prays,-"Sirmāre Sing-Bōngā tihingdō em kānāing dud kusum. Nejomēnē. Lai hāsū bōkō-hāsū bānuā tihing, etc." "Thou Singbōngă in heaven, to-day I am giving (Thee) milk (lit., milk-flower). Eat (drink) this. From to-day may there be no sickness in stomach or head." A little chiură is also offered to the ancestor-spirits (Būṛhā-Būṛhi) by putting the chiurā on sōsō-leaves at the āding. Then all eat new chiurā and drink rice-beer. A screen is hung over the spot in the angin where the offerings to Singbonga were made. In the afternoon when rice has been boiled and meat of fowl cooked, a little of this rice and meat are offered to the Buṛha-Buṛhi in the ading by the head of the family. Then all the members of the family and any friends who may have been invited partake of the feast. The leaf-plates on which they have eaten are stowed away in a corner of the hut. When in the evening the canopy has been removed from the angan, these leaf-plates are thrown away in the āngān.
The Kuram Festival.-The Karam festival is held on the eleventh day of the moon in the month of Bhado. A Karam (Nauclea parvifolia) branch is brought to the angān where it is cere moniously planted. And the story (Kāhāni) of the two Karam and Dharam brothers is recited by some one who knows it by heart.
The Jitia Festival.-This is celebrated twelve days after the Karam festival. The head of the family and his wife remain fasting the whole day. The min plants in his āngān a branch of Julia, pipir tree (ficus religiosa), and the branch of the sekrē or sidha tree, and a twig of the mohuā (basia latifolia) tree, a bamboo and a sugarcane all tied together with a straw rope in their middle. The Jitia Kahini is recited by some one who knows it, preferably by a Brahman if available. Offerings of Gulaichi flower, bael (Aegle Marm:gos) leaves, āruā rice, milk, molasses, clarified butter (ghi), rice-flour cakes (piṭhā), and
flattened rice (chiuru) are offered to the Jitia branch and its associatcs.
Such in brief is a rough outline of the religious ideas of the Birkōrs as I have understood them and their religious practices as I have partially observed them-some, when they were being actually performed, and others, by making the men enact the ceremonies for my benefit. The impression borne in upon me by all that I have seen with my eyes and heard from the people themselves, is that their religion is concerned with beings who are to them not vague impersonal powers or energies but conscious personal agents as real and living to them as their ownselves. Risley's characterization of the religion of the Chōṭā Nāgpur aboriginal that "in most cases the indefinite something which they fear and attempt to propitiate is not a person at all in any sense of the word" appears to be only a part of the truth. These impersonal powers are the subject matter of their magic which I shall deal with in another paper, and occupy but a subordinate part in their thoughts. True, they conceive of themselves, as Risley says, as "passing through life surrounded by a ghostly company of impersonal powers, elements and tendencies." It is no less true, however, that what absorbs most of their thoughts is not these impersonal powers or energies who are amenable to control but those real personal beings whose name is legion and between whom and themselves a never-ceasing trial of strength is silently going on. When the power of such a spirit proves too strong for man, a promise is made to provide him regularly with food to sustain his powers, and the Birhōr enters into personal relations with him, provides him with food calculated to susta n and increase his strength and-"eats with him "-partakes of a communal feast-to increase and strengthen his own soul-stuff. The more fortunate amongst them can enter into direct communion with them in dreams and trances when their inner eyes "in a fine frenzy rolling "have vivid visions of the gods. These persons known as mātis or Deonṛās are believed to have attained in
! Repot of the Census of Inl a, 1901, Vol. I, Part I, p. 352.
a more or less degree, what the Birhōr regards as the summum bonum of life-the power to control and direct the impersonal energies and powers-and the stray personal powers, and secure the good-will of the more important personal powers or deities. A study of the religious ideas and practices of the tribe ap, ears to indicate that the religious consciousness of the Birhōrs consists in a continual sense of the presence all around them of super-physical and semi-spiritual personal powers and impersonal energies; their religious sentiment consists mainly in a feeling of awe and fear in the presence of such powers and energies, and a consequent sense of mysterious sacredness; their religious rituals have for their object the propitiation and conciliation of these personal powers of various grades of potency and sanctity with a view to secure "luck” and avoid misfortune, to prevent disease and dearth of food, and energize and ennoble life, and their magico-religious rites aim at securing greater strength to themselves to repel the evil influence of the harmful lesser personal powers, and impersonal energies and at ridding themselves of these malevolent powers and keeping them out of harm's way by threats and tricks and spells.
MISCELLANEOUS CONTRIBUTIONS I.-The Topography of Garhgaon and its Environs in 1662-1663 A.D.
By Jadunath Sarkar, M. A.
Throughout the Persian diary of Mir Jumla's invasion of Kuch Bihar and Assam, composed by Shihabuddin Talish (see this Journal, December 1915), is scattered much information about the topography of Garhgaon (the ancient capital of Assam) and the country round it. Such information is of priceless importance to the historian, as the surface of the ground has been completely changed during the ensuing two centuries and a half by frequent earthquakes and particularly by the extensive floods of 1735 and of another year near the end of the eighteenth century.1
Modern maps fail to enable us to trace all the places and rivers mentioned in this paper. But the local antiquarians of the Sibsagar district may, with the help of the information here supplied, identify some of them, and note to what extent they have changed or disappeared. It is hoped that the data here supplied will be of use to the Archæological Department in making excavations or spotting ancient sites.
1 In the reign of Rajeswar, little more than a hilf century ago, a sudden and overwhelming flood poured from the Dihong, inundating the whole country and sweeping away, with a resistless torrent, whole villages and even districts such is described to have been its violence, that the general features of the country, and the course of the river were materially altered by it." (Capt. J. B. Neuville's On the Geography and Population of Assam, page 4.) "Not only have we the evidence of their histories for this fact [viz, the singalar rise of the Dihong in 1735 (?)] but sufficient proof exists in the gre it alterations in the state of the rivers which then occurred." (Lt. R. Wilcox's Memoir of a Survey of Assam executed in 1825-8, page 28; see also Appendix II on page 128.) I have taken the above extracts from Selections from the Records of the Bengal Government, XXIII. (Calcutta