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and stay of his wife, and the wife is the sharer of her husband's weal or woe:
The wife, where danger or dishonor lurks,
Who guards her, or with her the worst endures. Wherever, therefore, you carry my husband, my footsteps will dog you thither. Our very first intercourse with the good and the righteous leads to the growth of confidence and kindly feeling, which is always productive of the most beneficial results.” Whereupon Yama replied, “O thoughtful lady, thy words are agreeable to my heart; they are fraught with meaning and good sense. I shall willingly grant you another boon save the life of your husband." “Allow me, then, O virtuous king, to ask for a hundred begotten sons to my father, who has no son," said Sabitri.
"I grant the boon,” said Yama, “now that all your wishes have been consummated, do not continue to follow me any longer. You are far away from your father-in-law's cottage; return home at once.”
Sabitri replied, “O virtuous king, we are apt to repose more confidence in the righteous than in ourselves ; their kindness amply requites our love and regard." Yama said, "I am very much satisfied with your edifying speech, and am disposed to grant you another boon.” Sabitri feeling grateful for the several boons granted unto her, presumed this time to ask for the resurrection of her husband as well as for the birth from them of a hundred powerful, wise and virtuous sons, to be the glory of the country and the ornament of society.
"Be it so," said Yama cheerfully and disappeared.
It is obvious that the fertile imagination of the hereditary priests of Hindoosthan, who, from their traditional mental abstraction, delighted more in the concoction of legendary lore than of the solid, sober realities of life, invented the above Brata or vow, mainly for the consolation of ignorant
females, to avert the hardships of widowhood, than which a more unmitigated evil is not to be found in the domestic economy of the Hindoos. The unhallowed institution of the immolation of widows alive, was primarily traceable to the dread of this terrible calamity, which preyed, as it were, on the vitals of humanity. Hence the performance of this Brata is the culminating point of meritorious work in popular estimation, promising to the performer the perpetual enjoyment of connubial happiness, which is more valued by a Hindoo female than all the riches of Golconda.
It is annually celebrated in the Bengalee month of Joysto both by widows and by women whose husbands are alive, by the former, in the hope of averting the evil in another life,' by the latter, in the expectation of continuing to enjoy conjugal bliss both in this world and the next.
On the celebration of this Brata on the fourteenth night of the decrease of the moon, the husband, being dressed in clean new clothes, is made to sit on a carpet, the wife, previously washing and drying his feet, puts round his neck a garland of flowers and worships him with sandal and flowers, wrestling hard in prayer for his prolonged life. This being done, she provides for him a good dinner, consisting of different kinds of fruits, sweetmeats, sweet and sour milk and ghee-fried loochees, &c. It should be mentioned here that a widowed lady offers the same homage to the god, Naraian, in the place of a husband.
The usual incantation is read by the priest, and she repeats it inaudibly, the substance being in harmony with her cherished desire. He gets his usual fee of two or four rupees and all the offerings in rice, fruits, sweetmeats, clothes, brass utensils, &c. If not dead, a woman has to perform this Brata regularly for fourteen long years, at the end of 'which the expense is tenfold more, in clothes, beddings, brass utensils, and an entertainment to Brahmins, friends and neighbours, than in the ordinary previous years,
Besides the Bratas described above, there are many others of more or less note, which are annually observed by vast numbers of females, who, from their early religious tendencies, seem to enjoy a monopoly of them. It is, however, a singular fact that the primary object of all these religious vows is the possession of all sorts of worldly happiness, seldom supplemented by a desire of endless blessedness hereafter.
This is unquestionably a lamentable desideratum in the original conception and design of the popular Hindoo Shastras, clearly demonstrating its superficiality and poverty.
OBSERVANCES AND RITES DURING PREGNANCY.
From the period of conception a woman is enjoined by way of precaution, to live under certain rules and restrictions, the observance of which is to ensure a safe delivery as well as the safety of the offspring. She is not allowed to put on clothes over which birds of the air have vn, lest their return might prolong the period of her delivery. She fastens a knot to one end of the Achal of her Saree* and keeps it tied about her waist, and spits on her breast once a day before washing her body, and is not allowed to sit or walk in the open compound in order to avoid evil spirits; as a safeguard against their inroads, she constantly wears in the knot of her hair a slender reed five inches long.
When in a state of pregnancy, a Hindoo female is treated with peculiar care, tenderness and affection. She is generally brought from her father-in-law's house to that of her father, where all the members of the family shew her the greatest love lest she should not survive the throes of childbirth. Indeed the first childbirth of a young Hindoo girl is justly considered a struggle between life and death. As a religious safeguard and guarantee for safe delivery, she is made to wear rouud her neck a small Madoolee (a very small casket made of gold, silver, or copper), containing some flowers previously consecrated to Baba Thacoort and to drink daily until her delivery a few drops of holy water after touching it with the Madoolee.
It is perhaps generally known that a Hindoo girl is married between 9 and 12 years of age-an age when her European sister would not even dream of being united in the bonds of wedlock; and the natural consequence is, she becomes a mother at thirteen or fourteen years. An eminent writer who had studied the subject carefully thus remarks : 6 Till their thirteenth year, they are stout and vigorous; but after that period, they alter much faster than the women in any of the nations of Europe.” Her tender age, her sedentary life, her ignorance of the laws of hygiene, the common dread of childbirth, the want of proper midwives as well as of timely medical aid (should any be necessary), conspire
A Saree is a piece of cloth, 5 yards long with colored borders.
+ A Hindoo god generally kept by the lower orders of the people, such as Domes, Chirals and Bagthees.