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community as well as to itself. A woman dying within twentyone days of childbirth or a child dying within twenty-one days of birth may never be admitted to the community of ancestorspirits, as their spirits are always dangerous. In their case, therefore, a new doorway to the hut is opened to take their corpses to the grave. These corpses are buried in a place apart from that where other corpses are buried. Women and not men bury such corpses; the men only dig their graves and go away. Thorns are pricked on their feet to prevent them from leaving their graves. The corpse in the grave is formally made over by the mati to the charge of some spirit of a hill or jungle of the neighbourhood. In doing so the mati works himself up to a state of supposed possession, and says "O, spirit of such and

such hill or forest (names)! We make over so-and-so (names the deceased) to you. Guard her well and let her remain here. " The māti (or rather, as it is believed, the spirit through the mouth of the māti) says, "I do take charge". If the first spirit asked to take charge does not make such a reply, another spirit is similarly addressed, and so on, until some spirit agrees to take charge of the dangerous corpse. Should a boy or a girl die before the earboring ceremony, the ears of the corpse are perforated before itis carried to the grave, so that the shade may get admittance finto the community of Birhōr spirits.

The corpses of children and

Modes of disposal of the dead.


women dying in childbirth are In other cases cremation is

preferred, but burial is optional and is the normal mode of disposal during the rains and at all seasons if the family is poor.

On death, the corpse is washed and anointed with oil and
If the deceased was

Toilet of the corpse, and the funeral procession.

pounded turmeric.

married, vermilion marks are made on the

forehead. The corpse is then stretched

out and bound on an unprovided wooden bier and carried head first towards the grave or cremation-ground as the case may be. Except in the cases of a woman dying within twenty-one days of childbirth and a child dying within twenty-one days of birth,

who are carried out by women through a newly-opened doorway, all other Birhōr corpses are taken out of the hut by men through the ordinary doorway. An earthen jug filled with water, a cup of oil, and a torch are taken by a member of the funeral proces sion which comprises all adult members of the fända. When the party reach the boundary-line (külhi-mūṛhi) of their settlement, the bier with the corpse on it is put down on the ground for a few minutes, and then carried to the plate of burial or cremation.

At the burial-ground, a grave about three feet deep, three feet wide, and six feet long is dug by men. The corpse Burial.

is carried three times round the grave and then laid down flat in the grave with its head pointing south. The trunk of the corpse is covered over with a piece of cloth. The deceased's son or grandson holds a lighted torch in his right hand and someone stands besides him pressing his left eye with one hand. With his left eye thus closed, he walks round the grave three times and then lays the torch over the corpse's mouth. Those who can afford to do so put a few pice into the corpse's mouth. A miniature hunting-net, an axe, two fainis or small sticks used in supporting a net while stretched a little tobacco and lime in a leaf or in a lime-box, and, if possible, a brass plate are placed in the grave beside the head of a male corpse. Some Jāghi Birhors also put a piece of new cloth there. While these are placed in the grave, some elder of the tanḍā addresses the corpse, saying, " Go thou and hunt that way. Do not come this way again". In the case of a female corpse, a bundle of chop fibres is placed in the grave and the corpse is told: "Work those with these. Do not come back to us ". A clod of earth is then thrown into the grave in the name of each absent relative; and finally all present throw earth into the grave and close it up. Small blocks of stone are placed over the grave to prevent jackals or other animals from exhuming the corpse. When a corpse is to be cremated, a funeral pyre is arranged by the men. The corpse is carried three times round this pyre and then laid flat on it


with its head pointing south. The son or grandson circumambulates the corpse three times, and then with his left eye closed, as described above, puts the lighted torch into the corpse's month and straightway leaves the ground without looking backwards, goes to some stream or spring, where he bathes and returns home. After fire is first set to the corpse in this way by the son or grandson, wood is placed on the corpse in the name of each absent relative and then by every one present. When the corpse is wholly burnt, the women of the tanḍā bring jars of water from some stream or spring close by and with a winnowing basket pour it on the embers. Then the women with their left hands pick up first a tooth, next a finger-bone, then a thigh-bone and finally the remaining bones. These they carefully wash in water and put into a new earthen jug. This jug with the bones in it is carried home and hung up on some tree near the deceased's hut to remain there until the Hoyon ceremony. Then all go and purify themselves by bathing in some stream or spring, and return towards their fāndā.

After the Funeral.

When the funeral party return after the purificatory bath to the limits of their ṭāṇḍā,

they have to undergo a further purification by fire and fumigation. Some burning charcoal has already been placed there by the women, and on the approach of the party a quantity of the aromatic resin of the Sal tree (Shorea robusta) is sprinkled on the fire to produce a strong-smelling smoke. Arriving there each one of the party touches the fire with his left great toe and waves his left hand over the fire. Then they proceed to the space (angan) in front of the deceased's hut, and there water in which a bit of copper and some leaves of the sacred basil have been dipped is sprinkled on their persons. Then the men in a body enter the hut of the deceased. When the corpse was removed from the hut, the part of the floor where the deceased breathed his last had immediately been cleaned with mud or cowdung diluted in water, and ashes spread over it in the belief that the footprints of the spirit which caused

the death would be discernible in the ashes. The men scrutinize the supposed footprints in the ashes to discover whether the spirit was a family spirit or an interloper. If the footprints look like those of a person entering the hut, it is concluded that death was caused by a spirit of the house. If the footprints look like those of a person going out of the hut, it is concluded that it is some outside spirit—perhaps one of a different ṭāṇḍā— which is responsible for the death. The māti again works himself into a state of supposed spirit possession and declares what sacrifices are necessary to propitiate the spirit, if it is a spirit of the tāndā. If it is an outside spirit, the māti performs the 'ninchha ' ceremony, so that the spirit may not come again to the house.

On the evening of the day after the death, a son or parent or widow or other member of the deceased's family goes with a leaf-plate of boiled rice and pot-herb or pulse, a leaf-cup of water, a little tobacco (if the deceased used to take it) and lime, and a glowing faggot to the outskirts (kulhi-muṛi) of the settlement, where the corpse was put-down by the palbearers on their way to the burial or cremation ground. As the person puts these down on the ground, he or she addresses the shade of the deceased saying, "Here now, we have brought food for thee, we have brought tobacco and lime for thee. Take these and be quiet". If the deceased was a babe at the breast, mother's milk is taken to the spot instead of rice and other articles.


On the seventh or ninth day after death the bones of the cremated corpse are buried in a small hole just outside the fāndā under some tree, and covered up with a stone slab, saying "Ancestor spirits, carry the bones to the original home [of the clan ]." It is believed that the ancestor-spirits of the deceased carry the bones to the original home of the clan. Then all the Birhōrs of the settlement go outside the limits of the ṭāṇḍā and shave themselves. Women have their nails pared. Then they bathe themselves in some stream and return to the tandā. The widow of the deceased, when she goes to the stream for bathing,

throws away the iron bracelet hitherto worn by her as a sign of the married state. After bathing, she puts on a new săṛi-cloth, called the widow's cloth (rändi sāri), presented to her by her father or brother who come to the tanda for the occasion.


In the evening a few men go to the spot on the outskirts of the tanḍā where the corpse rested on its way to the burial place or cremation ground. There they put up a miniature leaf-shed running north to south in length, and then go back to their tāndā. The whole tāṇḍā now maintain absolute silence. Three or five other men go to the new shed carrying with them two sickles, a new basket and a chicken. A few other men wait in breathless silence at the deceased's house, where a lamp is kept burning. Arrived at the miniature leaf-shed the men who go there with the chicken sacrifice it, saying, "All ye stray spirits, spirits of persons who were long lost or died a bad death, leave ye the spirit of the newly-deceased. Here we offer this fowl to you; do ye give up his spirit." Saying this, the men strike one sickle against another and call out the name of their recently-deceased relative and exclaim," Come, so-and-so (names)! Look ! thy house is burning." With repeated exclamations like this the party return home, followed, as they believe, by the spirit of their dead relative. In the meanwhile the door of the deceased's old hut is closed against their approach. Arrived at the door, they call out-" Which of you are sleeping and which of you are awake?" Those within the hut ask.-"Are you our own people or strangers ?" "We are your people, and not strangers ", is the reply. Thereupon they ask, "What then do you want?" The men reply, "We have taken out sorrow, and bring you happiness". The door is then opened and they are admitted into the hut. On entering the hut, they ask with bated breath, "Has the shade come in?" The reply is always in the affirmative. A māti, however, must be called in. He takes up a handful of rice, sprinkles it round his head-swings his head from side to side with increaseing rapidity until he gets into a state of spirit-possession in order to see if the spirit has really entered the hut. One of the men

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