Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 24, 1913.djvu/445

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Tlif Rclioioti of Maiiipur. 417

requirements of tlie new reli\f;;ion in the matter of shaving. This was got over temporarily by importing five barbers, but, as the number of converts increased, it soon became impossible for five barbers, however diligent and expert, to attend to them all, and some new arrangement iiad to be made. Each of the barbers had a certain number of villages assigned to him, and to each of these he sent the imple- ments of his trade and in return demanded a small fee in rice from each holder, and the payment of these fees is held to satisfy all the requirements of religion. This system exists still. The supremacy of the Raja is another point which must not be overlooked ; although there is a Brahman Somaj to which all questions regarding Hindu rites are referred, yet its orders require the approval of the Raja before they become effective. In matters of diet the Mani- puri is very orthodox, and in many matters is more par- ticular than Hindus generally are in these days. This is due partly to the isolation in which, till recently, they lived, and partly to their desire to mark the difference between themselves and the Hill tribes, whom they despise.

The Manipuri is a very cheerful person, fond of any form of amusement, and he has accepted gladly all the festivals of the Hindu calendar, but to show his independence he observes them a day later than other Hindus. He indulges largely in religious plays and dances illustrating incidents in the life of Krishna (Plate VHI.). The fight with the Demon and the mighty crane sent by the wicked Kansa to slay the boy Krishna is a favourite subject. The first part of the ceremony is conducted indoors, and strangers are not admitted. At its conclusion the boy representa- tives of Krishna, Balaram, and their cowherd companions, in gorgeous costumes, march out into some open space where the images of Krishna and Radha have been placed on a stage before which the boys dance and play at ball as their prototypes are said to have done in days long gone by in the jungles of Brindaban. The crane and