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9. Funeral rites.
Io. The Paida ceremony.
barley, sesamum, sugar and saffron placed on the top of
II CUSTOM'S A T BIRTA/ 235
the surrounding villages. If the occasion of the ceremony be a death, male and female calves are taken and their marriage is performed; oil and turmeric are rubbed on their bodies, and they are led seven times round the high pole. The heifer is then given to a Brähman, and the male, being first branded on one flank with a figure of a trident and on the other with a representation of the sun and moon, is set at liberty for life, and no Hindu will injure it. This last practice is, however, falling into desuetude, owing to the injury which such animals inflict on the crops. A Jät who performs the Paida ceremony obtains great consideration in the community, and his opinion is given weight in caste disputes. A similar liberality is observed in other ways by wealthy men; thus one rich proprietor in Hoshangābād, whose son was to be married, gave a feast to all the residents of every village through which the wedding procession passed on its way to the bride's house. Another presented each of his wedding guests with new cloth to the value of ten or twelve rupees, and as in the case of a prominent family the number of guests may be a thousand or more, the cost of such liberality can be easily realised. Similarly Colonel Tod states that on the occasion of their weddings the Jäts of Bikaner even blocked up the highways to obtain visitors, whose numbers formed the measure of the liberality and munificence of the donor of the fête. Indeed, the desire for the social distinction which accrues to generous hosts on such occasions has proved to be the undoing of many a once notable family.
If a woman is barren, she is taken to the meeting of the boundaries of three villages and bathed there. On the birth of a boy a brass dish is hammered to announce the event, but on that of a girl only a winnowing-fan. The navelstring is buried in the lying-in room. When the newborn child is a few days old, it is taken out of doors and made to bow to the sun. When a man proposes to adopt a son the caste-fellows are invited, and in their presence the boy is seated in his lap, while music is played and songs are sung by the women. Each of the guests then comes up and presents the boy with a cocoanut, while sugar is distributed and a feast is afterwards given.
II. Customs at birth.
The favourite deity of the caste is Siva or Mahādeo, whom they consider to be their ultimate ancestor. On the festival of Shivrātri (Siva's night) they observe a total fast, and pass the whole day and night singing songs in honour of the god, while offerings of bel" leaves, flowers, rice and sandalwood are made on the following morning. In Hoshangābād the caste have two minor deities, Rämji Deo and Bairam Deo, who are presumably the spirits of defunct warriors. These are worshipped on the eleventh day of every month, and many Jāts wear an impression of their images on a piece of gold or silver round the neck. On the Dasahra festival the caste worship their swords and horses in memory of their soldier ancestors, and they revere their implements of husbandry on the Akshaya Tritiya of Baisakh (June), the commencement of the agricultural year, while each cultivator does the same on the days that he completes the sowing of his rain crops and winter crops.
The caste employ Brähmans for the performance of their ceremonies, and also as their gurus or spiritual preceptors. They eat flesh and drink liquor in the Central Provinces, but in Hoshangābād they do not consume either birds or fish; and when they eat mutton or the flesh of the wild pig, they do this only outside the house, in order not to offend their women, who will not eat flesh. In Hoshangābād the Jäts, like other immigrants from Märwär, commonly wear their hair long and keep the face unshaven, and this gives them rather a wild and farouche appearance among the neatly shorn Hindus of the Nerbudda Valley.” They are of light complexion, the difference in shade between the Jäts and ordinary residents in the locality being apparent to the casual observer. Their women are fond of the hollow anklets known as bora, which contain small balls or pebbles, and tinkle as they walk. Girls are tattooed before marriage, and while the operation is being carried out the women of the caste collect and sing songs to divert the sufferer's attention from the pain. The men have pagris or turbans made of many little strings of twisted cloth, which come down over the ears. If a man kills a cow or a squirrel, he must stay outside the village for five weeks and nobody looks upon his
13. Social CustomS.
* Aegle marmelos. * Hoshangābād Settlement Report, loc. cit.
II SOCIAL CUSTOMS 237
face. After this he should go and bathe in the Ganges, but if he is too poor the Nerbudda may be substituted for it with the permission of the caste committee. The penalty for killing a cat is almost as severe, but to slay a dog involves no sin. If a man who has committed a murder escapes conviction but his guilt is known to the caste, it is absolutely incumbent on him to go and bathe in the Ganges and be purified there, having his head and face shaved. After this he may be readmitted to caste intercourse. The caste observe some curious rules or taboos: they never drink the milk of a black cow ; their women do not have their noses bored for nose-rings, but if a woman loses several children she will have the nose bored of the next one which is born ; women never wear glass bangles, but have them made of ivory or lac and clay; they never wear the bazuband or armlet with bars crossed on hinges which can be pulled in or out, but instead of it the kara or rigid bangle; and the caste never keep a basil plant in the house for worship, though they may revere it outside the house. As the basil is the emblem of Vishnu, and the Jäts consider themselves to be descended from Siva, they would naturally not be inclined to pay any special respect to the plant. The Jäts are good cultivators, and at the thirty years' settlement (1865) several members of the caste held considerable estates; but a number of these have now been lost, owing probably to extravagance of living. In Saugor the Jāts are commonly employed as masons or navvies.
1. General notice.
2. Exogamous divisions.
LIST OF PARAGRAPHS
I. General notice. 5. Religion.
Jhādi Telenga."—A small caste in the Bastar State who appear to be a mixture of Gonds and the lower Telugu castes, the name meaning ‘The jungly Telugus. Those living in the open country are called Måndar Telengas. In the census of 1901 these Telengas were wrongly classified under the Balji or Balija caste. They numbered about 5ooo persons. The caste have three divisions according to their comparative purity of descent, which are named Purāit, Surăit and Pohni. The son of a Purāit by a woman of different caste will be a Surăit, and the son of a Surăit by such a woman will be a Pohni. Such alliances are now, however, infrequent, and most of the Telengas in Bastar belong to the Purāit or legitimate group. A Pohni will take cooked food from the two higher groups and a Surăit from a Purāit. The last will take water from the two lower groups, but not food. For the purposes of marriage the caste is divided into the usual exogamous septs, and these are further arranged in two groups. The first group contains the following septs: Kudmulwādu, from kudmul, a preparation of rice; Kolmulwādu, from kolmul, a treasure-pit; Lingawādu, from the linga emblem; and Nāgulwädu, a ploughman. The second group contains the following septs: Kodamajjiwādu, * This article is entirely based on Rai Bahadur Panda Baijnath, Superan account of the caste furnished by intendent, Bastar State.