Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/56

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46 The DasaJira :

purification, as in the case of the bridegroom, who is thus freed from evil spirits.^^

We have seen that at the Ramllla wooden images of the demons Ravana and Kumbhakarana are blown up with fireworks. This is doubtless a case in which a rite for the expulsion of demons in general has been adopted by the Brahmans and attached to the Rama cultus. We may compare these images with the wicker-work giants at Douay and other places which are, or were, paraded at the midsummer festival. Sir J. G. Frazer connects these with "the leafy framework in which the human representative of the tree spirit is so often encased."** But in India they seem to represent a form of demon expulsion. We may perhaps find an analogy to the death of the vegetation spirit in the curious Indian tale that the boys who per- sonate Rama and his brother in the mystery play are believed never to live to attain manhood. Bishop Heber writes: "The poor children who have been thus feasted, honoured, and made to contribute to the popular amuse- ment, were, it is asserted, always poisoned in the sweet- meats given them the last day of the show, that it might be said their spirits were absorbed into the deities whom they had represented." *^ One result of this belief is that it is not easy to induce boys to undertake this dangerous duty. The story of the poisoning of the victims is in- credible, but it is possible that the legend is based on the sudden death of some performers owing to excitement or exposure to the sun during the performance. In some cases their bodies are covered with gold leaf, which, by obstructing the pores of the skin, might easily lead to a fatal result.

SJ. Biddulph, op. cit. pp. 53, 78; Sir G. S. Robertson, The Kafirs of the Hindti-Kush (1896), pp. 421, 429, 462, 467, 471.

■^•^ The Golden Bough,^ part vii. vol. ii. p. 32 sc/.

  • ^ Narrative of a Jojnney through the Upptr Provinces of India (1S61),

vol. i. p. 191.