Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/264

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230 Collectanea.

Observances at the Hin'^u Nerv Year. — In south India Vishu, the Hindu New Year's Day, falls early in April. There is a general belief that the prosperity of the coming year depends upon the first object which the householder happens to see on that morning when he wakes. Oxen, a cow, gold, silver, coco-nuts, flowers, or vegetables are auspicious ; oil, firewood, a cat, or ashes are in- auspicious. Accordingly a careful man takes precautions to select the lucky articles, known as Kari^ and places them in such a position that his gaze is safe to fall upon them when he wakes. {Madras Times, April 15, 1909.)

Field Spirits in the Konkan. — In the Konkan, that part of India which lies on the south-west coast, there is a general belief in the existence of guardian field spirits, known as Rakhanddr or " pro- tectors." They live in a bush, the stump of a tree, or a heap of stones on the boundaries of the fields, and they are propitiated on the night before reaping begins with an offering of boiled rice, vegetables, cakes fried in oil, lampblack, and bangles, the gifts being arranged to suit the wishes of the spirit, which may be of either the male or female sex. The spirit may be stolen by some malicious resident of a neighbouring village, who removes it to his own field, with the natural result that, as the crop of the original owner diminishes, that of the thief flourishes. In some villages there are persons who make a business of abducting such useful spirits. When a spirit has been stolen, the remedy is for the owner to visit the field into which he believes it to have been enticed, and to induce it by gifts and promises of worship to take its seat on a leaf of the yam plant, and then to hasten back with it and install it in its original home. The control of these spirits is the business of the Gaonkdr or village headman, who, when the time comes for manuring the rice fields, heads the procession into the precincts of the field spirit, and opens the season by plucking a leaf from the spirit's tree, a feat which he alone dares to perform. He also takes command in the annual sacred hunt, and offers part of any game which has been killed at the village spirit's shrine. He also undertakes the duty of expelling evil spirits from the village. This rite, known as Kirka, is done twice in the year, before and after the rainy season, on the first occasion the spirits being driven towards the plain of the Deccan, and on the second