Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/44

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34 The Dasahra :

Government. -^^ The following account of the Jeypore ceremony was recorded about thirty years ago :

" A man representing the victim for sacrifice was, from the day of the New Moon, immured in a cage-like box in a shed specially erected for the purpose during the nine days of the festival. In front of this was placed a lamp, which was kept alight without intermission, and beside it was placed a sword daubed with sandal-wood paste and deco- rated with flowers. While in the cage the man neither ate nor drank, nor might he sneeze : it was said that even the ordinary functions of nature were denied him during his confinement. At midnight of the ninth day of the festival, a pure black sheep was wrapped in a cloth which covered the animal entirely, marked with red powder and adorned with leaves of the «fw tree.^^ It was taken to the Kali temple, where its head was shaved and rubbed over with saffron water for purposes of purification, and a red spot was marked on its forehead, as used to be done in the case of human victims. Some mystic words were whispered in its ear, and it was given rice and saffron to eat. It was then solemnly beheaded by a priest, and its blood was caught in a basin and offered to the goddess. Those present marked their weapons with drops of this blood, and certain persons ate the flesh. It was said that the cere- mony represented, as nearly as possible, a human sacrifice. After the rite was over the man in the cage was released, given a present of money, and required to depart at once." This is a very interesting account of the substitution of an animal for a human victim. The taboos imposed on the mock victim are also instructive. Mr. Fawcett adds that it is not uncommon at Brahman deathbeds for certain needy Brahmans, in consideration of a money present, to accept

^* Imperial Gazetteei- of India [1908], vol. vii. p. 122; Gazetteer, Central Province [1870], p. 38.

^* Mr. Fawcett notes the importance of the mm tree {melia azadirachta) in the village festivals of South India.