Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/41

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an Autumn Festival of the Hindus. 31

medium of one of his Pujāris or priests, offers a prayer to the goddess imploring her to ensure the due performance of the rites. The girl, as the medium of the goddess, presents through the priest to the Chief the garland of flowers which she wore, and announces that no evil spirits will interrupt the ceremonies. She also predicts the prospects of the coming year. She must be about seven or eight years old, and as in other places, impersonates the goddess of fertility. "She is allowed to take her part in the ceremony every year until she arrives at puberty, and even after that, if she is chaste and continues to live peaceably with the priest. But as the latter is generally a married man, the girl is usually made over to some other man of the caste who has no objection to take her as his wife without a formal marriage, and when this happens another girl is chosen by the priest and trained to her duties."

After these ceremonies the Rāja formally hands over the management of the State to his Dīwān, or prime-minister, so that he may devote himself undisturbed to the conduct of the rites. He is subjected to various taboos : he may wear no clothing except a loin-cloth and a small sheet; his body is besmeared with sandal paste, and in place of a turban he wears a garland of flowers; he must not ride in any vehicle, nor can he wear shoes, and he must sleep on the ground; he may neither salute any one nor receive salutes. During this period of taboo an ascetic is selected and enthroned as his religious representative.[1] Once he is consecrated, this personage must remain on the same spot during the nine days' festival; when overcome by hunger he is given only a small quantity of milk and plantains, but otherwise he is not regularly fed.[2] The devotee is

  1. Compare the functions of the Rāj Jogi at Mewār, who takes charge of the State sword, above, p. 29. On the subject of temporary kings see Sir J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, 3rd ed. part iii. p. 149 sqq.
  2. This abstinence may be intended as a means of purifying the Rāja's representative, or it may be a form of sympathetic magic. See Sir J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, 3rd ed. part ii. p. 157, note 2, 161.