Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/58

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48 The Dasahra :

by women, one of whom bears the seedlings in a basket. People suffering from spirit seizures sit on the road and are believed to be cured if the exorcist leaps over them.^° The only agricultural work the men of the Kafir tribe ever do is to grow these seedlings,^^ Probably with the same intention, during the feast in Gujarat, the main gates of the temples are festooned with the ears of as many kinds of grain as are procurable.^^ In Southern India the Dasahra is immediately followed by the Gauri festival in honour of the goddess, " the brilliant one," the impersona- tion of the golden grain of harvest. She is believed to have saved the corn from the Rakshasas or malevolent demons, and she is represented by a bundle of rice ears carried in procession, while the women sing songs describing her life and exploits.^^

A similar explanation may be given of the custom of swinging the Mahar girl during the festival.^* It will be remembered that the swing on which she sits is covered with thorns, partly perhaps with a penitential object. But, further, Sir J. Frazer has given an instance from Borneo where the priests and priestesses are swung in order that they may receive inspiration from the spirit: "thus sus- pended in the air they seem to be in a peculiarly favourable position for catching the divine afflatus." ^^ It is not possible to explain swinging rites in various parts of the world in the same way ; but the promotion of the growth of plants seems to be one of the leading motives.^^

Again, as we have seen,^' the image of the goddess at the Durga Puja is solemnly thrown jnto the river, and in

^^ Bombay Gazetteer, vol. ix. part i. (1901), p. 392.

^1 Sir G. S. Robertson, op. cit. p. 466 sq.

^-Bombay Gazetteer, vol. ix. part i. (1901), p. 390.

^^W. Francis, Gazetteer of Vizagapatani (1907), vol. i. p. 71.

^*P. 30, supra.

^^ The Golden Bough, 3r(l ed. part iii. (191 1), p. 280.

^'^Ibid. p. 283. "p, 38^ j„^,,^_