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ring and clothes and jewels.' Sometimes they think that an ancestor has been born again in a calf, and the Gunia ascertains who he is in the same manner. Then this calf is not castrated if a bull, nor put to the plough if it is a cow, and when it dies they will not take off its hide for sale but bury it with the hide on.
It is believed that if a barren woman can get hold of the first hair of another woman's child or its navel-cord, she can transfer the mother's fertility to herself, so they dispose of these articles very carefully. If they wish the child to grow fat, they bury the navel-cord in a manure-heap. The upper milk teeth are thrown on to the roof, and the lower ones buried under a water-pot. They say that the upper ones should be in a high place, and the lower ones in a low place. The teeth thrown on the roof may be meant for the rats, who in exchange for them will give the child strong white teeth like their own, while those thrown under the water-pot will cause the new teeth to grow large and quickly, like the grass under a water-pot. Diseases of children are attributed to evil spirits. The illness called Sukhi, in which the body and limbs grow weak and have a dried-up appearance, is very common, and is probably caused by malnutrition. They attribute it to the machinations of an owl which has heard the child's name or obtained a piece of its soiled clothing. If a stone or piece of wood is thrown at the owl to scare it away, it will pick this up, and after wetting it in a stream, put it out in the sun to dry. As the stone or wood dries up, so will the child's body dry up and wither. In order to cure this illness they use charms and amulets, and also let the child wallow in a pig-sty so that it may become as fat as the pigs. They say that they always beat a brass dish at a birth so that the noise may penetrate the child's ears, and this will remove any obstruction there may be to its hearing. If the child appears to be deaf, they lay it several times in a deep grain-bin for about half an hour at a time; when it cries the noise echoes in the bin, and this is supposed to remove the obstruction to its power of hearing. If they wish the boy to be a good dancer, they get a little of the flesh of the kingfisher or hawk which hangs poised in the air over water by the rapid vibration of its wings, on the
DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD
look-out for a fish, and give him this to eat.
If they wish him to speak well, they touch his finger with the tip of a razor, and think that he will become talkative like a barber. If they want him to run fast, they look for a stone on which a hare has dropped some dung and rub this on his legs, or they get a piece of a deer's horn and hang it round his neck as a charm. If a girl or boy is very dark-coloured, they get the branches of a creeper called malkangni, and express the oil from them, and rub it on the child's face, and think it will make the face reddish. Thus they apparently consider a black colour to be ugly.
(e) FUNERAL RITES
Burial of the dead has probably been the general custom 32. Disof the Gonds in the past, and the introduction of cremation posal of may be ascribed to Hindu influence. The latter method of disposal involves greater expense on account of the fuel, and is an honour reserved for elders and important men, though in proportion as the body of the tribe in any locality becomes well-to-do it may be more generally adopted. dead are usually buried with the feet pointing to the north in opposition to the Hindu practice, and this fact has been adduced in evidence of the Gond belief that their ancestors came from the north. The Māria Gonds of Bastar, however, place the feet to the west in the direction of the setting sun, and with the face upwards. In some places the Hindu custom of placing the head to the north has been adopted. Formerly it is said that the dead were buried in or near the house in which they died, so that their spirits would thus the more easily be born again in children, but this practice has now ceased.
In most British Districts Hindu ceremonial 1 tends more and more to be adopted, but in Bastar State and Chānda some interesting customs remain.
Among the Māria Gonds a drum is beaten to announce 33. Funeral a death, and the news is sent to relatives and friends in other ceremony. villages. The funeral takes place on the second or third day, when these have assembled. They bring some pieces of cloth, and these, together with the deceased's own clothes
1 See article on Kurmi.
and some money, are buried with him, so that they may accompany his spirit to the other world. Sometimes the women will put a ring of iron on the body. The body is borne on a hurdle to the burial- or burning-ground, which is invariably to the east of the village, followed by all the men and women of the place. Arrived there, the bearers with the body on their shoulders face round to the west, and about ten yards in front of them are placed three sāj leaves in a line with a space of a yard between each, the first representing the supreme being, the second disembodied spirits, and the third witchcraft. Sometimes a little rice is put on the leaves. An axe is struck three times on the ground, and a villager now cries to the corpse to disclose the cause of his death, and immediately the bearers, impelled, as they believe, by the dead man, carry the body to one of the leaves. If they halt before the first, then the death was in the course of nature; if before the second, it arose from the anger of offended spirits ; if before the third, witchcraft was the cause. The ordeal may be thrice repeated, the arrangement of the leaves being changed each time. If witchcraft is indicated as the cause of death, and confirmed by the repeated tests, the corpse is asked to point out the sorcerer or witch, and the body is carried along until it halts before some one in the crowd, who is at once seized and disposed of as a witch.
Sometimes the corpse may be carried to the house of a witch in another village to a distance of eight or ten miles. In Mandla in such cases a Gunia or exorciser formerly called on the corpse to go forward and point out the witch. The bearers then, impelled by the corpse, made one step forward and stopped. The exorciser then again adjured the corpse, and they made a step, and this was repeated again and again until they halted in front of the supposed witch. All the beholders and the bearers themselves thus thought that they were impelled by the corpse, and the episode is a good illustration of the power of suggestion. Frequently the detected witch was of the deceased's wives. In Mandla the cause of the man's death was determined in the digging of his grave. When piling in the earth removed for the grave after burial, if it reached exactly to the surface of the ground, they thought that the
dead man had died after living the proper span of his life. If the earth made a mound over the hole, they thought he had lived beyond his allotted time and called him Sīgpur, that is a term for a measure of grain heaped as high as it will stand above the brim. But if the earth was insufficient and did not reach to the level of the ground, they held that he had been prematurely cut off, and had been killed by an enemy or by a witch through magic.
Children at breast are buried at the roots of a mahua tree, as it is thought that they will suck liquor from them and be nourished as if by their mother's milk. The mahua is the tree from whose flowers spirits are distilled. The body of an adult may also be burnt under a mahua tree so that the tree may give him a supply of liquor in the next world. Sometimes the corpse is bathed in water, sprinkled over with milk and then anointed with a mixture of mahua oil, turmeric and charcoal, which will prevent it from being reincarnated in a human body. In the case of a man killed by a tiger the body is burned, and a bamboo image of a tiger is made and thrown outside the village. None but the nearest relatives will touch the body of a man killed by a tiger, and they only because they are obliged to do so. None of the ornaments are removed from the corpse, and sometimes any other ornaments possessed by the deceased are added to them, as it is thought that otherwise the tiger into which his spirit passes will come back to look for them and kill some other person in the house. In some localities any one who touches the body of a man killed or even wounded by a tiger or panther is put temporarily out of caste. Yet the Gonds will eat the flesh of tigers and panthers, and also of animals killed and partly devoured by them. When a man has been killed by a tiger, or when he has died of disease and before death vermin have appeared in a wound, the whole family are temporarily out of caste and have to be purified by an elaborate ceremony in which the Bhumka or village priest officiates. The method of laying the spirit of a man killed by a tiger resembles that described in the article on Baiga.
Mourning is usually observed for three days. The mourners abstain from work and indulgence in luxuries, and
34. Mourn- the house is cleaned and washed. The Gonds often take ing and
food on the spot after the burial or burning of a corpse and offerings to the dead. they usually drink liquor. On the third day a feast is given.
In Chhindwāra a bullock or cow is slaughtered on the death of a male or female Gond respectively. They tie it up by the horns to a tree so that its forelegs are in the air, and a man slashes it across the head once or twice until it dies. The head is buried under a platform outside the village in the name of the deceased. Sometimes the spirit of the dead man is supposed to enter into one of the persons present and inform the party how he died, whether from witchcraft or by natural causes. He also points out the place where the bullock's or cow's head is to be buried, and here they make a platform to his spirit with a memorial stone. Red lead is applied to the stone and the blood of a chicken poured over it, and the party then consume the bodies of the cow and chicken. In Mandla the mourners are shaved at the grave nine or ten days after the death by the brother-in-law or son-in-law of the deceased, and they cook and eat food there and drink liquor. Then they come home and put oil on the head of the heir and tie a piece of new cloth round his head. They give the dead man's clothes and also a cow or bullock to the Pardhān priest, and offer a goat to the dead man, first feeding the animal with rice, and saying to the dead man's spirit, 'Your son- or brother-in-law has given you this.' Sometimes the rule is that the priest should receive all the ornaments worn on the right side of a man or the left side of a woman, including those on the head, arm and leg. If they give him a cow or bullock, they will choose the one which goes last when the animals are let out to graze.
Then they cook and eat it in the compound. They have no regular anniversary ceremonies, but on the new moon of Kunwār (September) they will throw some rice' and pulse in front of the house and pour water on it in honour of the dead. The widow breaks her glass bangles when the funeral takes place, and if she is willing she may be married to the dead man's younger brother on the expiry of the period of mourning.
In Bastar, at some convenient time after the death, a stone is set up in memory of any dead person who was an