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the goddess, raised several feet on an ornamented pedestal. On either side of her are usually placed images of her two sons; Ganesha, the god of wisdom, with his elephant head; and Kartikeya, the god of war, riding on a peacock. These are worshipped on this occasion, together with a multitude of demi-goddesses, the companions of Durga in her wars.
In the evening, about eight o'clock, the principal pujah, or worship, is renewed with augmented zeal. But what constitutes pujah, or worship, in that land? Watch the devotee, and you will soon discover. He enters the hall ; he approaches the image, and prostrates himself before it. After the usual ablutions, and other preparatory rites, he next twists himself into a variety of grotesque postures; sometimes sitting on the floor, sometimes standing ; sometimes looking in one direction, and sometimes in another. Then follows the ordinary routine of observances, [by the officiating Brahman;] sprinklings of the idol with holy water ; rinsings of its mouth; washings of its feet ; wipings of it with a dry cloth ; throwings of flowers and green leaves over it; adornings of it with gaudy ornaments; exhalings of perfume ; alternate tinklings and plasterings of the sacred bell with the ashes of sandal wood; mutterings of invocation for temporal blessings; and a winding up of the whole with the lowliest act of prostration, in which the worshipper stretches himself at full length, disposing his body in such a manner as at once to touch the ground with the eight principal parts of his body, viz., the feet, the thighs, the hands, the breast, the mouth, the nose, the eyes, and the forehead !
Then succeeds a round of carousals and festivity. The spectators are entertained with fruits and sweetmeats. Guests of distinction have atar, or the essence of roses, and rich conserves, abundantly administered. Musicians, with various hand and wind instruments, are introduced into the hall. Numbers of abandoned females, gayly attired, and glittering with jewels, are hired for the occasion to exhibit their wanton dances, and rehearse their indecent songs in praise of the idol, amid the plaudits of surrounding worshippers.
Another essential part of the worship consists in the presentation of different kinds of offerings to the idol. These offerings, after being presented with due form and ceremony, are eventually distributed among the attendant priests. No share of them is expected to be returned to the worshipper ; so that, on his part, it is a real sacrifice. Whatever articles are once offered,
become consecrated, and are supposed to have some new and valuable qualities thereby imparted to them. Hence the more ignorant natives often come craving for a small portion of the sacred food, to be carried home, to cure diseases.
But it is to the almost incredible profusion of the offerings presented at such festivals that we would desire to call your special attention. In general it may be said that the bulk of the people, rich and poor, expend by far the larger moiety of their earnings or income on offerings to idols, and the countless rites and exhibitions connected with idol worship. At the celebration of one festival, a wealthy native has been known to offer after this manner - eighty thousand pounds' weight of sweetmeats ; eighty thousand pounds' weight of sugar; a thousand suits of cloth garments; a thousand suits of silk; a thousand offerings of rice, plantains, and other fruits. On another occasion, a wealthy native has been known to have expended upwards of thirty thousand pounds sterling on the offerings, the observances, and the exhibition, of a single festival; and upwards of ten thousand pounds annually, ever afterwards to the termination of his life. Indeed, such is the blindfold zeal of these benighted people, that instances are not unfrequent of natives of rank and wealth reducing themselves and families to poverty by their lavish expenditure in the service of the gods, and in upholding the pomp and dignity of their worship. In the city of Calcutta alone, at the lowest and most moderate estimate, it has been calculated that half a million, at least, is annually expended on the celebration of the Durga Pujah festival. How vast, how inconceivably vast, then, must be the aggregate expended by rich and poor on all the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rites, ceremonies, and festivals, held in honor of a countless pantheon of divinities !
Ah! it is when gazing at these heaps of offering, so lavishly poured into the treasury of the false gods of heathenism, that one is constrained to reflect, in bitterness of spirit, on the miserable contrast presented by the scanty, stinted, and shrivelled offerings of the professed worshippers of the true God in a Christian land! Would that, in this respect, the disciples of Christ could be induced to learn a lesson from the blinded votaries of Hinduism! Take the case of a renowned city, the third, in point of wealth and commercial importance, in the British empire; a city on whose escutcheon and banner is inscribed the noble motto, that it is to "flourish by the righteousness of the Word.” What has been, on the part of its citizens, the manifestation of a liberality that must needs astound all Christendom, and, if it were possible, cause the very universe to resound with the never-dying echoes of its fame? Why, this great city, whose merchants are princes and the honorable of the earth, - this mighty city, that sits as a queen among the principalities of the nations, — this celebrated city did, on a late occasion, in very truth, contribute the sum of twenty thousand pounds to promote, within itself, the cause of that Redeemer to whose vicarious sacrifice and mediatorial government it owes existence, and riches, and salvation, — all the possessions and comforts of time, - all the prospects and crowns of immortality! Well, be it so! We at once cheerfully concede that, compared with the doings of others in this professedly Christian land, this is one of the best and noblest specimens of modern benevolence. But turn now to, benighted Hindustan. Look to one of its chief commercial emporia. There, or a single festival, in honor of a monstrous image of wood or clay, you find upwards of five hundred thousand pounds expended — not once, but annually! After this, talk, if ye will, of your liberalities. Boast of them. Eulogize them to the skies. Parade them, as munificent, in public journals. Extol them beyond measure at your great anniversaries. Would that, when next disposed to trumpet forth the praise of your own doings, ye would go and proclaim your magnificent contributions to the cause of your God and Savior in the presence of the deluded heathen, who replenish with free-will offerings the halls of their idol Durga. Ah ! methinks that, instead of deigning to reply, they might point, in scornful silence, to the multiplied tokens and pledges of their own prodigal bounty, and leave you to draw an inference which might well cover you with confusion and dismay! For what could the inference be, were the silence and symbolic movement rightly interpreted and imbodied in words? What could it be but this ? — "If the amount of free-will offerings be a measure of sincerity in our religious profession, surely our sincerity must be a hundred fold deeper than yours. If extent of sacrifice of worldly substance, to which we all so naturally cling, be a measure of our love to the object of worship, surely our love to our god, which you reckon a poor dumb idol, must be a hundred fold more intense than yours towards Him whom you profess to regard as the only true God and Savior. If visible fruits be the test of reality