« PreviousContinue »
Her clouds of grief and sorrow threw;
And Hope with fainting pinions flew. But Love, an angel at the door, Still bade them smile, though they were poor, And Love was right you may be sure.
v. And now, how sad they sat and sigh'd,
Each day of some dear joy bereft;
And not one ray of hope was left,
Domestic love! celestial spark !
Still shall thy lasting flame survive;
Keep life's all-changing scene alive.
RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES OF THE INDIANS,
“ Religentem esse oportet; religiosum nefas.” Aul, Gel. “ A man should be religious, not superstitious." .
The remarkable display of Indian manners, which are here (in the bay of Condatchi) seen in all their varieties, is perhaps the most striking object of all those which most attract the attention of a stranger during the pearl fishery. Every cast has its representatives; the arts practised by some, the ceremonies performed by others, and the appearance of all, present the richest repast to the curiosity of a European. In one place he may see jugglers and vagabonds, of every description, practising their tricks with a degree of suppleness and skill which appears supernatural to the inhabitants of a cold climate; in another, he may observe bakers, brahmins, priests, pandarams, and devotees of every sect, either in order to extort charity, or in consequence of some vow, going through the most painful operations with a degree of obstinate resolution, which I could scarcely have believed, had I not been an eye witness.
The most painful acts of penance which the Indians undergo, are in order to regain their cast*, when they
* Those who, by any crime, or neglect of superstition's rites, have, according to the decrees of the priests, forfeited their cast, are not only condemned to infamy themselves, but their children, and children's children to all generations, are sup. posed to share in the guilt and contamination. No one of another cast will intermarry with them, they are allowed no trade or profession, and obliged to beg continually for sustenance; thus become a dead weight on society,
have lost it, either by eating things forbidden by the rules of their sect, or by having such connection with people of a different description, as is supposed to defile them. In this state they are held in abhorrence by persons of their own sect, debarred from all intercourse with them, and prohibited even to touch them. From such a dreadful state of defilement they can be purified only by paying a large sum of money, or by undergoing the most incredible penances: among those I shall mention a few of the most remarkable. One of them will vow to hold his arm eleva ed over his head for a certain number of years, without once leto ting it down; and this he will actually continue to do; till the arm can never afterwards be recovered to its natural position. Another will keep his hand shut till the nails of his fingers absolutely grow into the flesh, and appear quite through the back of his hand. Many never suffer their hair to be combed, or their beards to be shaved; in this state the hair of their heads, which is of a brown or burnt colour, gets matted, and appears not unlike the mops we use in Europe; or, hangs down in long dishevelled strings, similar to, that which grows on a species of French lap-dogs. Some will vow never to lie down, while, at the same time, they wear round their necks a large iron instrument, not unlike a gri liron without a handle..
But one of the most extraordinary of these ceremo nies which I have witnessed is, swinging for their cast, as it is termed. A very high and strong post, or cocoa tree, is planted firmly in the ground, crossways; on its top another beam is placed in such a manner as to turn round on a pivot, and made fast to the upright
post by ropes reeved through both, like the yards to the mast of a ship, and from the end of the transverse beam ropes and pullies are suspended to hoist up the devotee. He then is brought out, attended by a number of people dancing before him, and is led thrice round the swinging post by the brahmins and his relations, with loud shouts, accompanied by music. In the mean time a sheep is sacrificed, and the blood sprinkled about on the surrounding multitude, who are eager that it shall fall upon them. Barren women, in particular, are anxious to catch the drops, in hopes of being by this means rendered fruitful; and with a view to secure the efficacy of this charm, they contrive to work themselves up, during the ceremony, to the highest pitch of religious delirium, tearing their hair and shrieking in the most dreadful manner. After the sacrifice is performed, the devotee is placed on his belly flat on the ground, and two very large hooks, which have been previously fixed to the rope suspended from the end of the cross beam, are inserted deep into the flesh of his back, just under the shoulder; other ropes are also placed under his breast and across his thighs, to help to sustain the weight of his body. He is then, by means of the ropes and pullies, hoisted up to the cross tree, immediately under which he continues suspended, and in this position he is drawn round the post two or three times. During this painful ceremony he repeats a certain number of prayers, and continues to throw among the crowd flowers, which he had taken up with him for the purpose: these are considered as sacred relicks, which will keep away all disease, and ensure happiness ever after; and
the surrounding multitude scramble for them as eagerly as an English mob for money thrown among die, to them.
This ceremony is by no means unfrequent, and I say this have had occasion to be present at more than one at man's f Columbo*. In the last I saw there, performed in which 1799, the cross beam broke, and the man, falling tools inte the ground, was killed on the spot. A Moor, of the scinent Moply cast, had previously observed to the crowd, who sed, os were principally Malabars, of the same sect with the pasurit devotee, that the timber was not strong enough to reach tim bear the man, and would certainly break. This pro- pty or ving actually to be the case, the Malabars affirmed thing that the Moor had, by his prediction, bewitched it; fed of and, in revenge, they attacked him with such fury, is no uh that he would certainly had been killed, had not a few pical the European officers rescued him out of their hands. tight ane
L " To weep is our prerogative; . . To show, by pitying looks and melting eyes, How with a suff'ring friend we sympathise."
Tate's Translation of Juvenal. ..... When Dives and the Philanthropist Hayward were left alone, the latter, after a struggle in which he
* Columbo is the capital of the island of Ceylon, and all together, for its size, one of the most populous towns of India. You meet there, besides Europeans and Cingalese, the proper natives of the island, almost every race of Asiatics.
a ga riche