Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/53

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an Autumn Festival of the Hindus. 43

of the tenth day they are removed from their fixed positions and worshipped. [1]

In Madras the goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati are supposed to do penance during this nine day period, only to be aroused on the tenth, when, in the true spirit of fertility rites, the sacred marriage of Lakshmi and Vishnu is performed.[2]

But besides prayer and propitiation of the dead other measures believed to be even more efficacious are taken. Blood sacrifices are supposed to be the most potent form of expiation. To the instances of such rites already given, the custom at Nepal may be added. On the tenth day of the festival there is a great slaughter of buffaloes at the regimental head-quarters, and of other victims at the temples of Devi or Durga. Every Gorkha officer of the higher ranks is expected to present a buffalo to the colours of his own corps. The colours are set up in a prominent position, decorated with garlands and streamers, amid volleys of muskets and artillery. The victim is brought out and tied to post with its nose touching the ground, so as to stretch the neck, and it is decapitated with a single blow of the kukri or curved Gorkha knife. The carcases are the perquisite of the regimental servants. The Gorkha method of decapitation is reasonably humane, but the Newār practice of slaying animals at their temples by opening the jugular vein is extremely brutal. The blood of the victim is directed so as to fall on the shrine or on the images of the gods, and over a quantity of rice offered to the deity. This last becomes saturated with blood and is appropriated by men of the menial Pauriya caste, who carry it away and eat it. As soon as the victim is dead, the persons who have done the sacrifice appropriate the head for their own consumption, and a portion is given to the temple servants as their share. Sometimes

  1. Balaji Sitaram Kothare, Hindu Holidays (1904), p. 67.
  2. S. M. Natesa Sastri, Hindu Feasts, Fasts, and Ceremonies (1903), p. 85.