Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/46

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The Dasahra:

of the Mother goddess, in whose honour the festival is held, and after his state of possession has passed away he sacrifices a buffalo or goat by cutting off its head with a sword, having first ascertained, by throwing water on the head of the victim, that the offering is acceptable.[1] The head is placed near the image; home-made liquor is sprinkled on the ground; the liver of the animal is thrown into a sacred fire, and the rest of the meat and liquor is distributed.

Among the Brāhmans and Marāthas of the Deccan a jar, either of brass or of clay, is set up as the symbol or dwelling-place of the goddess Bhavāni. Offerings, each of a different kind, are presented to young girls on each day of the feast. The image of Bhavāni, placed under a tree, as a sacred booth, is worshipped, honour is paid to Sarasvati, goddess of learning, and prayers are addressed to all implements and animals of war—the umbrella borne over the Chief, the horse, the flagstaff, the elephant, the sword, the bow and arrows, muskets and artillery. At the close of the ninth day the jar, the abode of Bhavāni, is thrown into water. On the tenth day a procession moves to the north-east to a sami tree (acacia suma or prosopis spicigera), at which the soldiers shoot arrows, and put the leaves as they fall into their turbans.[2] Under the old Mahratta

  1. See Folk-Lore, vol. xx. (1909), p. 233 sq.
  2. This is possibly a survival of the festival in Buddhist times. "Every third year, in the month of Kattika (October-November), the kings used to hold a festival, called the Kattika Feast. While keeping this feast, the kings used to deck themselves out in great magnificence, and dress up like gods; they stood in the presence of a Goblin named Ciftarāja, the King of Many Colours, and they would shoot to the four points of the compass arrows wreathed in flowers, and painted in diverse colours" (The Jātaka, Cambridge trans, vol. ii. (1895), p. 254; cf. v. pp. 109, 134). The object of the rite is not explained, but it possibly represents a method of putting to flight the adverse demons. The Hindus paid special attention to "the regents of the eight quarters of the sky," the Dikpāla—Indra, god of the sky, guarding the east; Agni, the fire god, the south-east; Yama, god of death, the south; Nirriti, the goddess of death, the south-west; Varuna, the sea god, the west;