an Autn7nn Festival of the Hindus. 47
These methods of purification and expulsion of evil spirits at the Dasahra are closely connected with the intention to promote the fertility of men, animals, and crops, which is one of the main objects of the festival. The goddess Devi or Durga, with whom, under Brahman influence, this festival is now associated, exercises in this her most important function.
First, we find the worship of young girls, who have not attained puberty, as embodiments of the goddess. This has already been mentioned in the Mahratta ritual and in that of the Durga Puja.^^ A few years ago two unmarried girls in the Kapurthala State were announced to be incarnations of the goddess. They were worshipped, they visited various parts of the Jalandhar District, and were treated with great reverence ; but as no good results followed, the cult died out.*"
Secondly, we find in connection with this festival the production of the so-called '"Gardens of Adonis," which have been recentl}- discussed in great detail by Sir J. G. Frazer, who regards them " as charms to promote the growth and revival of vegetation ; and the principle by which they were supposed to produce this effect was homoeopathic or imitation magic." ^^ Instances of this form of magic have been already described in the Deccan and among the Bhlls.*^ The Hindus of Gujarat plant various kinds of seed grains on the first day of the festival in a corner of the house oratory or god-room, and worship them on the tenth day as representing the goddess. A lamp fed with butter, and an unsheathed sword, the emblem of the goddess, are placed beside them. When an exorcist grows these seedlings he becomes possessed by the goddess on the eighth day of the feast, and walks about accompanied
" Pp. 36, 38, supra.
- ' Census Report, Punjab (1901), vol. i. p. 126. '
- The Golden Bough, 3rd ed. part iv. vol. i. p. 236 sq.
" Pp- 35. 37, supra.