Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/48

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38 The Dasahra :

is, roughly speaking, from the end of June to the early part of November, the gods are believed to sleep. Until their rest is ended no marriages are performed, no one repairs the thatch of his house or makes beds for use in the household ; no one, not even the jackal, eats the new sugar-cane and other crops of the autumn harvest, garden vegetables, or jungle fruits like the wild plum or myra- bolan.23 In short, it is a feast of first-fruits, when the new food is desacralized or freed from taboo.

In Bengal the goddess is aroused from her sleep by magical methods. A twig of the bel tree growing in the north-eastern direction is touched by the officiant, and the goddess is invited to wake and take up her abode in it. On the first day nine mystical plants placed round this branch are bathed ; life is given to the images by invoking the deities represented by them ; they are anointed ; sacrifice is done ; minor gods are worshipped, and the day closes with the paying of devotion to a virgin girl of the Brahman caste.

An important rite, of which an example has already been given,^* is that of installing a jar {ghata-sthdpafia) as an abode for the goddess, into which she is invited to enter by a series of rites and incantations. The tiresome ritual need not be described in detail. It closes with the cere- mony on the tenth day, when the image is removed from its place, tied on a bamboo frame, and carried on men's shoulders to the riverside with all manner of music. Then it is fixed on a pair of boats and dropped into the water.

. ^^J. F. Hewitt, Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times (1894), pp. 353, 390; Census Report, Panjab, 1901, vol. i. p. 44 sq. ; C. A. Elliott, Settlement Repoi't, Hoshungabad (1867), p. 126; R. V. Russell, Gazetteer of Damoh {1906), vol. i. p. 39; W. Crooke, Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India, 2nd ed. (1896), vol. ii. p. 299 sqq. For similar beliefs see Sir J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough,^ part iv. vol. ii. p. 41 ; L. R. Farnell, The Cults of the Greek States, vol. ii. p. 461, note c, v. 176 sq., 178, 183 ; J. E. Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, p. 276 sq.

-* P. 36, supra.