Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/51

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an Autuvm Festival of the Hindus. 41

a hole in the ground and covering it with a hide.^*" Among the Mahars of the Deccan at the Dasahra a buffalo is wounded by the Chief, let loose and hunted, while everj^ one tries to strike it with their hands or with some weapon. It is believed, like the scape-animal, to carry away the sins of those who are successful in striking it. After this, at the entrance of the town, its head is cut off with a single blow. The Mahars rush on the carcase, and each one seizes a piece of the flesh. This done, they go in procession round the walls, calling on the spirits and demons, and asking them to accept the pieces of meat as offerings, which are thrown to them backwards over the wall.27

Naturally at this season the sainted dead of the famil}- are not neglected. Just before the Dasahra, at the end of August and the beginning of September, is the "Ancestors' fortnight " {pitra pakslui), when the souls of the household dead are believed to return to their homes which have been cleared and made ready for their reception, and to eat the food provided for them. The souls of women come on the ninth day of the fortnight, and on the thirteenth the dreaded spirits of persons who have perished by a violent death, by accident, snake-bite, or other unusual causes.

During the fortnight of the dead a woman does not put on new bangles and men do not shave.^^ The natural relief from this period of grief and mental tension comes with the succeeding Saturnalia and rejoicings of the Dasahra. As special examples of the cult of ancestors, it may be noted that in the Central Provinces a still-born child is deemed unlucky, and at the Dasahra a coco-nut is

^A. A. Macdonell, A. B. Keith, A Vedic Index of Names and Subjects (1912), vol. i. p. 368.

"^ Folk- Lore, vol. xvii. (1906), p. 296, quoting Globus, vol. xvii. p. 24.

28 E. M. Gordon, Indian Folk Talcs (1908), p. 18. On the Feast of All Souls, see Sir J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough ^•^ part iv. vol. ii. p. 51 sq.