Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/66

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56 The Dasahra :

and the bridegroom, when he is going to fetch his bride,, cuts down a branch of it, it is believed as an emblem of the destruction of his enemies. More probably the intention is to scare the evil spirits which are supposed to make their home in this tree and may interfere with the wedding rite. ^2 Jt is also to be npted that, as among the Celts, the lives of Rajas and Chiefs are connected with a sacred tree, possibly as representations of the spirit of vegetation embodied in it, and under its shadow they were inaugurated.^'

There are also indications that it was the custom to celebrate the Dasahra under booths erected in the forest. At the festival at Sakti in the Central Provinces the Raja goes outside the town to a place where the potters have a goat tethered to a tree in the midst of a temporary booth made of twigs of the sonpdti tree. His retainers attempt to behead the goat, while the potters retaliate by throwing clods at them. The winner of the head gets a reward from the Raja, and the potters receive the trunk of the victim.^* This use of sacred booths is common at harvest observances, like the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, and at Greek sanctuaries.^^

The cult of birds at the festival is another example of a form of sympathetic magic. The birds usually v/orshipped are the jay, the peacock, and the kingfisher, all adorned with beautiful plumage. The Mahrattas at the Dasahra

^^ Pattjab Census Report, 1911, vol. i. p. 274; H. A. Rose, Glossary of Tribes and Castes of the Punjab a7td North- West Frontier Provinces, vol. ii. . (191 1), p. 371. The custom of shooting arrows at the tree may possibly be a mark of respect. The Ostyaks are said never to have passed a sacred tree with- out shooting an arrow at it as a mark of respect. Sir J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, 3rd ed. part i. vol. ii. p. 11.

•* J. A. MacCulloch, The Religion 0/ the Ancient Celts (1911), p. 201.

»*E. A. de Brett, op. cit. p. 194.

  • ^ Encyclopaedia Biblica, vol. iv. (1903), p. 4875^5^^. ; Sir J. G. Frazer,

Pausanias (1898), vol. ii. p. 165 sij. 204.