Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 20, 1909.djvu/253
1909.) A correspondent of the Times of India (Oct. 28, 1907) gives an account of a similar rite of bathing Khandoba, the great local god of the Deccan, whose shrine is at Jejuri in the Poona district. The rite is performed at the full moon of the month Chaitra (March-April). When the ceremony was performed in 1897, for some reason, the spirit of the deity embodied in the image did not return to its temple, and it was found that by some mistake it had entered an image in another adjoining shrine. To remedy this, a special rite was performed to recall the god to his own image. The idol was carried in procession towards the shrine in which the spirit of its deity had taken temporary refuge. In front was led the sacred horse of the god. This had formerly been a most gentle animal, but, after the service was completed and the procession started to return, he became unusually excited, and seemed to be pressed down, as if bearing an unusually heavy burden. When he reached the precipitous flight of stone steps leading to the shrine of Khandoba, he bounded up to the top, performing the almost impossible ascent in safety, and entered the shrine ; and, though he had never before seen it, he carefully selected that of Khandoba from a number of other temples. Here the spirit of the deity is believed to have dismounted and to have entered his own image; at any rate, the horse shook himself as if he had been released from a heavy burden. It was found impossible to lead the animal back by the route which he had followed, and he was brought down the hill by another and more circuitous way. Cholera had up to this time been raging in the place, but on the return of the god it suddenly ceased, and those who were dying of the disease recovered.
The custom of bathing a deity prevails also in Rajputana, where the Mother goddess is solemnly bathed every year. The intention is to remove pollution, to revive her jaded energies, and to give her a new access of divine power. For instances of the same rite, see MacCulloch, ChildJiood of Fiction^ p. 75 et seq., quoting among other authorities Berenger-Feraud, Superstitions et Siirvivances ; leurs origitis et transformations, vol. i., p. 436 et seq. W. Crooke.