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the ryots. (Bombay Gazetteer, XV. pt. 1, 128). But Bijapur was now in the grip of a civil war, the Adil Shahi State was hastening to a dissolution, and Shivaji's possession of South Konkan and North Kanara remained unchallenged till after his death.

VII.-Birth and Funeral Ceremonies among the Hos.

By Girindra Nath Sarkar, B.A.

LIKE all other people a Ho has a great desire for a child specially a male one to keep his memory alive after his death and to give him food, drink, and comfort in his old age.

Barren women are despised and supposed to be cursed by Sing-bongā (the Sun-god). Barrenness is generally attributed to bad morals or some sin committed by the woman in her previous life. But measures are taken to make a barren woman fruitful. The woman is made to drink a decoction of the root of the käed creeper and if she conceives she ties the root round her waist as a charm against all evils that might befall the child in the womb. The Hos believe that children are born by the will of Singbonga (The Sun-god). They say Sing bongā emetānā (God gives it), but they are all aware of the fact that a woman cannot conceive without intercourse with a man. The Hos also believe that the souls of the dead never die, but are reborn in infants. The dead are recognized in the new-born children by the semblance which they bear to the former. Thus when a child resembles his grandfather the father says that his father is born again to grace his family.


A Ho woman takes pregnancy as a matter of course and does not take any particular care as to her diet or behaviour during the first few months. Unlike the Hindus no ceremonies are observed a no 1g the Hos, at the seventh or other month of pregnancy. But when the time for delivery draws near she is stricly forbidden to frequent the places supposed to be presided ovər by the bongās (spirits), holds herself aloof from vonen who are suspectel of sorcery and witchcraft and avoids coming out after dark.


Each family generally has one hut with a single room where The lying it keeps everything that is necessary for daily life. This is the bed-room as well as the storeroom. They cook their meals and sit ordinarily on the verandah which is a raised floor about three feet wide. The master and the mistress of the house sleep in the hut with all their children. When the time for delivery arrives the room is reserved for the expectant mother and her husband. The huts of the Hos are windowless and therefore entirely safe from any cold blast. The would-be mother and the father enter the lying-in-room and its door is shut against all other persons. Delay in delivery is believed to be caused by the eye of some evil spirit or the fact that before marriage the mother had intercourse with some young man other than her lawfully married husband who cursed her for having been taken away from him and united with another man. In the latter case she confesses her misconduct and gives out the name of the lover who is asked to reveal the truth and he does so at once. Now a propitiatory sacrifice, generally a fowl, is offered to Sing-bonga. Thus the labour pains are lessened and the delivery becomes easy. Sometimes it is also believed that midwives through their magic power protract the delivery so that they may be called to facilitate it. When the would-be mother is conscious that baby is about to be born she sits down in a kneeling down posture The Birth. stretching her thighs wide. Her husband supports her from behind leaning against the wall. As soon as the child comes down on the floor the mother picks it up in her hands. The father cuts the umbilical cord with the skin of the maize plant (gāngāi singi) which has a sharp edge. Hos do not use a knife for this purpose lest the navel-string might take septic poison. The cutting of the umbilical cord over the mother wipes the babe's body if found covered with membranes with a piece of rag and after handing over the child to her husband proceeds to remove the after-birth and to clean the floor. The father now gives the child back to its mother and prepares hot water with which the mother bathes herself and her child. The mother


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now spreads a palm-leaf mat and lies down on it suckling the child. The father then bathes and cooks rice for himself and his wife. Nobody is allowed to remain in the confinement room except the husband, the wife and the child who are, so to speak, secluded for a month and are regarded as ceremonially unclean. Nobody would touch either their bed or clothes. The mother and her husband bathe every day with tepid water throughout the month of their confinement. She takes hot rice instead of stale rice. She is strictly forbidden to take pot-herb, fish and meat, but is allowed to drink mild rice-beer as a stimulant. The after-birth is buried under ground somewhere outside the confinement room and is carefully covered with earth so that no evil eye may fall on it to do harm to the child.


Just a month after delivery comes the time for Enda-chatu he Enda- (throwing away of the earthen vessels). The chatu Cere earthen pitchers and vessels that were used in the confinement room for cooking rice, boiling water and keeping drink are thrown away. The walls and the floor of the hut are daubed with cowdung and the parents with the child are re-admitted into society and feast is given to all the relatives.

Even after being released from confinement the mother as well as the father has to take certain precautions. They have to be careful when they go to bathe in tanks lest the NageBonga (water-deity) might do some harm to the child. They should not ease themselves in places where Bongas are supposed to live, nor should they bathe in tanks lest the Nage-Bonga (water-deity) might do some harm to the child.

The Name


The naming of a Ho child takes place in some cases on the tenth day and in other cases on the twentieth giving Cere day from the date of birth. Being firm believers in the principle of re-birth, the Hos invariably name their children after their deceased grandfathers or grandmothers and great-grandfathers or great-grandmothers. In choosing a name for the new-born child the Hos, like the Orions, perform a [sort of lottery by dropping grains of rice

into water.

A grain of husked rice is dropped into a pot filled with water and simultaneously a name is suggested. A second grain of rice is dropped into the sime pot. İf the second grain touches the first one and lie closely parallel to it at the bottom of the vessel, then it is mysteriously indicated that the name suggested has been predestined for the child. Sometimes as soon as a name is uttered, a certain number of grains or husked rice are taken on the palm of the ban1 and then the whole number is determined to be odd. or even by putting the grains on the ground two by two. If the number is found odd, the name is rejected, if it is found even the name is given to the child. The process continues until the number is found even, failing which the name of some great and influential man is selected with the unanimous consent of the community. The name-giving is attended by no special ceremony.


Premature death is generally ascribed to the evil-eye or 10 the anger of some spirit (bonga). But when Death and Funeral Cerean old man dies the Hos that the man has monies.


died of natural decay. When cholera or pox breaks out in a village-but epidemic diseases are very rare in Ho villages-and the number of the dead swells terribly, it is suspected that some evil spirit is at work. In such a case the villagers go in a body with all their used earthen vessels and throw them away beyond the village, where they perform a ceremony to drive the evil spirit away from the village with the help of a man reputed for scaring away spirits.

As soon as a Ho breathes his last, his female relatives rent the air with loud wailings which declare the death. Other fellow-villagers instantly come to the deceased's house and weep for him. For this act of sympathy they get some reward. Those who do not join the mourning party are looked upon as enemies. The widow will put off all her jewellery and abstain from rice both boiled and fried-until the cremation is over. So also do the agnates of the deceased,

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