Page:Folklore1919.djvu/301

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289
The Cults of the Mother Goddesses in India.

mothers of butter: sweet drink! the cows we here bathe: sweet drink!” As they danced they struck their right thighs with their right hands — probably with the intention of expelling evil influences and promoting fertility: or they used to beat the earth with their right feet, and danced, following the course of the sun.[1] At the sowing rite of the Garos the priest invokes Rokimē, “Mother of rice,” and striking the earth with a chopper-handle reminds the goddess that certain flowers have blossomed in the jungle, which is a sign that it is now time to sow the rice of which she is the Mother.[2] With this beating of the ground with a chopper-handle we may compare the Greek vase painting interpreted by Miss J. E. Harrison, where a Satyr is beating the ground to wake the Earth Mother, Pandora.[3] At the Orāon Jeth Jātra festival, according to Colonel Dalton,[4] the girls used to pat the Earth to make her fruitful. Later enquiries, however, show that it is the young men who carry fans made of wild date leaves, or yak tails, which they wave over the Earth as if coaxing her to bear abundant crops. Mr. Sarat Chandra Roy points out that, in Orāon belief, this is the function of males, not of women. Hence women are not allowed to plough or sow, but they may transplant the rice seedlings after they have been grown by the men, because it is the business of women to tend them, as they do in the case of their own babies.[5] The first act done when a male child is born among the Nāyars of Malabar is to beat the Earth with a coconut leaf, or, in the case of a girl, to grind some turmeric in a mortar. This

  1. A. B. Keith, “The Vedic Mahāvrata,” Transactions Third International Congress for the History of Religion, ii. 55.
  2. A. Playfair, The Garos, 93.
  3. Journal Hellenic Society, xx. (1900), 106 et seq., xxi. (1901), 6; L. K. Farnell, Cults of the Greek States, iii. 26, 112, 205.
  4. Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, 198.
  5. Sarat Chandra Roy, op. cit. 320. For a doubtful example of thrashing the Earth to make her fruitful from New Caledonia, see E. S. Hartland, Primitive Paternity, i. 111 note.