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sometimes to cause an untimely death. She must continue to observe many precautions until her accouchement is completed.

In the fifth month of her pregnancy takes place her Kacha Shád.* The day must be an auspicious one according to Hindoo astrologers, and she is treated that day with special indulgence, inasmuch as all the delicacies of the season are given to her without restriction. In the seventh month she is treated with Bhájá Shád, when she eats with a few other females (whose husbands and children are all alive) all sorts of parched peas and rice as well as Methais and other sweetmeats ; in the ninth month, the Paunchámritat ceremony is held, when she is made to wear a red-bordered Akhanda Saree (a piece of cloth ten cubits long with the edges uncut), which is preserved with the greatest care lest any jealous and mischievous woman who has lost her children, should clandestinely cut and take away a portion of the same, which is considered a very portentous omen for the preservation of the new born babe.

On the celebration of Paunchámrita above mentioned the officiating priest, after repeating the usual incantation, pours into her mouth a little of the delicacies, without the same coming in contact with her teeth. She is forbidden to eat anything else that day except fruits and sweetmeats ; and then a good day is appointed for the celebration of the grand final Shad, when all the female relatives and connections of the family are invited. In Calcutta, Hindoo females of respectability are not permitted to be seen, much less to walk in the streets ; they live in a state of perfect seclusion, entirely apart from the male members of the family, it being considered a very great disgrace should a respectable female be in any way exposed to public gaze. The very construction of a Hindoo family dwelling house clearly indicates the prevalence of the close zenana system ; the inmates must have an inner and an outer apartment, there must be an inclosed court-yard reached by tortuous passages, closed by low constructed doors, through which one has to wriggle rather than to walk; the sun seldom shines into it; small contracted staircases, foul confined air, no circulation or ventilation are the result : the noxious effluvia evaporating from this or that side of the house, especially from the lower floor, is a nuisance which the inmates put up with,

Kacha means raw; the term Shód is synonymous with desire. The ceremony is so called from the female being allowed that day to eat all kinds of native pickles, preserves, sweetmeats, confectionery, several kinds of fruits then in season, sweet and sour milk, &c., but not rice or any sort of food grains. Her desire is gratified, lest the girl should not survive the childbirth. It should be mentioned here that from the second month of her preganancy, she feels a great longing to eat Páthkholá (a sort of half burnt very thin earthen cake) which pregnant girls relish very much on account of its peculiar sodha flavour.

Paunchámrita means five kinds of delicacies, the food of the gods, consisting of milk ghee (clarified butter), dhahie (curded milk), cowdung and honey.

with scarcely any complaint. The drainage and water works have certainly effected considerable improvement towards the promotion of cleanliness, but still the dirty and filthy state of most of the family dwelling houses is a notorious fact. By a small door only there exists. a communication between the inner and outer apartment; should the house be a small one, say from three to four cottahs, which is generally the case in such a crowded city as Calcutta, and should the women talk loud enough to be heard by men outside, they are not only instantly checked but severely reprimanded for the liberty. The great privacy of the close zenana system is, however, broken by females being obliged to travel in a Railway carriage : though Hindoos of rank, whenever they have occasion to go on pilgrimage by Rail, generally engage a reserved compartment for the females, yet they cannot manage to preserve absolute privacy when going into or coming out of the carriage at the Railway Stations.

To return to the grand final Shad, on the day appointed an awning is put up over the court-yard of the house. Palkees are sent to each of the families invited ; and the guests (nearest female relatives) begin to come in from ten in the morning; a general spirit of hilarity prevails on all sides, noise and bustle ensue, the women are busy in receiving their guests, preparations are being made for the grand feast, the men outside direct the Palkee bearers where next to go, the little children have their own share of juvenile frolic, the young damsels and the aged matrons are seen speaking to their respective friends with mutual love, affection and confidence; and signs of joviality and conviviality are seen every where. It is on such occasions that women unbosom themselves to each other, and freely and unreservedly communicate their feelings, their thoughts, their wishes, nay their secrets to friends of congenial spirit and temper ; their conversation knows no end, their amiable loveliness almost spontaneously developes itself; they unburden their minds of the heavy load of accumulated thoughts ; their joys and sorrows, their happiness and misery, their sympathy and emotion, pleasurable or painful, have their full scope. If they are naturally garrulous they become more so at such a jovial assemblage, so that one can dive deepest down into their hearts on such an occasion. Many a matrimonial match is proposed and matured at such meetings, and to crown the whole, sisters of kindred spirit embrace each other with all the warmth of genuine love and affection. If their minds are contracted by reason of scanty culture, their hearts are full of affection, sympathy and susceptibility, which cannot fail to exercise a beneficial influence on human nature,

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On such occasions, females are allowed to have some amusement or támáshá, according to their liking, (but of course not such as betrays a vitiated taste, overstepping the bounds of decorum, which was the case some years back). Dancing girls and Panchålleys are entertained, who contribute not a little to the amusement of the assembled guests. Immured within the walls of a close zenana they are seldom suffered to enjoy such unrestrained liberty. Otto of roses, rose water out of gold or silver pots, nosegays, and paun or betel are freely distributed among them. They sit on benches or chairs, or squat down barefooted on forash bichana (a clean white sheet), and enjoy the támáshá to their hearts' content. These amusements continue till evening, entertaining the guests with songs on gods and goddesses (Doorga, Krishna and his mistress, Rádhá) : those relating to Doorga have a reference to the ill treatment she experienced at the hands of her parents, but those pertaining to Krishna and Rádhá tell of his juvenile frolics with his mother and the milkmaids, and amorous songs on disappointed love, which, though they may appear harmless to their worshippers, have nevertheless a partial tendency to debase the minds of females. By way of encouragement, the singing and dancing girls receive, besides their hire, presents of money, clothes and shawls, according to the circumstances of the parties retaining them. To do our women justice, however, it is pleasing to reflect that the progress of enlightenment has of late years wrought a salutary change in their minds. Instead of the former Kabees (songs) which were shamefully characterised by the worst species of obscenity and immorality, they have imbibed a taste for more sober and refined entertainments. Moral and intellectual improvement amongst perfectly secluded females is a sure harbinger of national regeneration. The young and the sprightly, as is naturally to be expected, enjoy these amusements most; but the more elderly and thoughtful females make the best of the opportunity in conversation about domestic affairs with those of their own age and kinship. They have certainly no distaste for these frivolous entertainments, but the thoughts and cares of home press more heavily on their minds. Age and experience have taught them to regard the enjoyment of unalloyed domestic felicity as the chief end of life. A good Hindoo housewife is a model of moral excellence.

About four o'clock in the afternoon, when almost all the guests are assembled together, long parallel rows of pirays, or wooden seats, the one quite apart from the other--are arranged in straight lines in the courtyard, in the midst of which is placed the seat of the pregnant girl, which, by way of distinction, is painted white with rice paste (alpáná) with appropriate devices. Adorned with ornaments of glittering gold, bedecked with precious stones, and dressed in an embroidered Benares Saree, she walks gracefully towards her particular seat, which is a signal for others (widows excepted) to follow; they all squat down on the wooden seats, before which are placed small pieces of green plantain leaves and a few little earthen plates and a cup, which are intended to serve the purposes of plates and glasses. Before her stands a light, a conch is sounded, and a rupee with which her forehead is touched is kept for the gods, for safe delivery. Fruits of different kinds, about fifteen or sixteen sorts of sweetmeats, loochee, kachoory, papur (flour fried with ghee) in the shape of cháppátees, vegetable curries of several kinds, sweet and sour milk, are provided for the guests, the female relatives of the girl serving as stewards. No adult male member of the family is allowed to assist in the feast, because Hindoo females blush to eat before men. Being most pre-eminent in point of caste, Brahmin women are served first. Here the rules of caste are strictly observed, and no departure therefrom is tolerated. It is not uncommon that uninvited females, or more properly speaking, intruders contrive by some means or other, to mix with the company; but they are soon singled out by the more shrewd and experienced, and to their chagrin and disappointment, instantly removed from their seats. They do not, however, go away with curses on their lips, but receive a few things and are ordered to leave the house without a Palkee.*

After the feast is over, the women, washing their hands and mouths, express their good wishes for the safe delivery of the girl, and make preparations for returning home. Here confusion and bustle ensue consequent on the simultaneous desire of all to return home first, and as the sun begins to set, their anxiety becomes more intense to see the faces of their absent children; laying aside their wonted modesty, some of them almost unblushingly make a rush and enter the first Palkee that comes in their way, regardless alike of their sex and the rules of


* A rather contemptible practice still lurks in the Hindoo community at the time of dining on such public occasions. The females for the most part place a portion of the dinner aside for the sake of carrying it home for their absent children ; even a rich woman feels no hesitation or humiliation in following the example of her less fortunate sisters. We can only account for this unseemly practice on the supposition that the Hindoo ladies do not like to partake of good things without sharing them with their beloved children at home. The wish is not an unnatural one but the practice most unquestionably is. In making provision for a grand feast, the Hindoos are obliged to treble the quantity of food for the number of guests invited, specially when it is a pucca jalpan, consisting of loochees and sundeshes (sweetmeats). If they invite 1oo families they must provide for about 300 persons, for the reasons specified above. It is a pity that in a matter of public entertainment both males and females cannot resist the temptation of appropriating a portion of the food to other than the legitimate purpose. Here feminine modesty is violated by infringing the ordinary rules of etiquette.


decorum. If 100 families are invited, about ten Palkees are retained. Hackney carriages are sometimes substituted in place of Palkees, but whatever arrangements are made it is next to impossible to satisfy at least 200 people at one and the same time. The guests are never expected to find their own conveyances. Before coming, some of them keep the Palanquin waiting for an hour or so, while they are engaged at their toilet and adorning their persons with divers ornaments. It is not unfrequently the case on such occasions that females in poor circumstances borrow ornaments from their more prosperous friends, in order to appear in society to the best advantage. In the absence of mental accomplishments, Hindoo ladies necessarily set a high value on the jewels about their persons. Some twenty years back, massive articles of gold were considered the most recherché ornaments, so much so that some rich ladies were adorned with gold articles alone to the weight of 6 or 7 tbs. ; to an English lady, this might appear incredible, but it is a fact which does not admit of any contradiction. Hindoo females are religiously forbidden to wear gold ornaments about their feet, it being considered a mark of disrespect to Lukxmee (goddess of prosperity,) hence they put on pairs of solid massive silver malls or anklets, weighing sometimes about 3lbs. ; though such massive articles are a great incumbrance to the free motion of the limbs, they are nevertheless used with great pleasure. Indeed it has been sarcastically remarked that were a Hindoo lady offered a gold grindstone to wear round her neck, weighing some polbs. she would gladly accept the offer and go through the ordeal. But as the spread of English education has improved the minds of the people, it has likewise improved their taste ; instead of massive gold ornaments, ladies of the present day prefer those of delicate diamond cut workmanship, set with pearls and precious stones such as chick, sittahaur, táráháur, seetee, tabij, bajoo, jasum, nabaruttun taga, bracelets of six or seven patterns, and ear-rings of three or four, kinds, for which girls in very early youth perforate their ears in 8 or 10 places, as also their noses in two places. By their choice of the modern ornaments they shew their preference for elegance to mere weight. Brilliant Pearl necklaces* of from seven to nine rows, and costly

* That the Hindoos have, for a long time, manifested a strong passion for ornaments, is a his. torical fact. Even so far back as the Mahratta dynasty, it was said of Dowlut Rao Sindhia that “his necklaces were gorgeous, consisting of many rows of Pearls, as large as small marbles, strung alternately with emeralds. The Pearl (moti) was his passion and the necklace was constantly undergoing change whenever a finer bead was found ; the title of “ Lord of a hundred Provinces" was far less esteemed by him than that of motiwalla the “Man of Pearls,” by which he was commonly designated in his Camp. It was perhaps a sight of this description that led Macaulay to say—“Our plain English coats command more respect than all the gorgeous orient pearl of the East," indicating thereby the involuntary awe of savage for civilized life.

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