Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/42

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32 The Dasahra :

consecrated by digging a pit in the Darbar hall, in the middle of which is a raised platform of ashes, covered with a new blanket or cloth, on which he is seated. Near him is placed holy water and a sword, and wheat is sown on an altar.^*^ He must remain in a sitting position, confined by a plank laid across his thighs which is pegged to the ground, while a second plank supports his head and back.^^ During his term of office neither he nor the Raja may see one another. Formerly, as his remuneration for this service, he used to receive a rent-free village, but he is now rewarded by a gift of jewels and money. In olden days he was allowed to plunder the bazar after his duty was over ; ^"- now he merely goes round and collects alms.

On the next, the second day of the feast, the Raja worships the gods, for which purpose he is carried round in a car dragged with ropes by members of one of the Gond tribes. The female attendants at the temples wave lights over him, and, carrying a quiverful of arrows and a dagger, he worships the goddess of wealth and his arms. On the seventh day he performs the rite of " invitation to the del tree" {aegle inarmelos). A fruit is picked and some leaves are offered to the terrible goddess, Chamunda. This night is known as " the great worship," and is considered the most sacred of the Dasahra rites. On the ninth day nine unmarried girls are worshipped and fed as impersonations of the goddess; clothes are given to them, and Brahmans are

1" See inj'ra, p. 47.

^^We may perhaps compare this with the immobility of the Mikado. "In ancient limes, he was obliged to sit on the throne for some hours every morning, with the imperial crown on his head, but to sit altogether like a statue, without stirring either hands or feet, nor indeed any part of his body, because by this means it was thought that he could preserve peace and tran- quillity in his empire." Sir J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, 3rd ed. part ii. p. 3 sq.

1^ For the custom of legalised looting of the bazar, as an incident in a rite de passage, see W. Crooke, Things Indian (1906), p. 401 ; E. Crawley, The Mystic Rose {1902), p. 280.