Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/82

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THE BELIEFS AND RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES
 

bring colonies of worms and locusts upon the fields, kill bees, destroy beehives, cause the bad weather that injures the crops, lead one into the jaws of a bear, and induce men to commit evil actions. They also wage eternal warfare against the good divinities.

Lastly the Mordvins worship their ancestors (see note §15) under the name of atyat (fathers). The departed that dwell in the heavenly beehive enclosures of Nishki Pas continue to care for their relations, and assist their descendants in all useful and good works ; keep them from harm, and warn them, if necessary, either by a dream or some other portent. Prayers and offerings are made to them both at home and at the places of burial.

Moksha Gods and Goddesses.

According to the conceptions of the Moksha, the supreme Creator of the world, Shhai (god ; sky), who is without beginning, first created Shaitan as his assistant. But the latter began to oppose his maker, and was accordingly cast down from the highest abode above the sky. Shhai then created in his place a new divinity, Soltan, also termed Soltan Keremet,[1] and Mastir hirdi, the ruler of the material world. All other Moksha divinities are goddesses.

Asar ava,<rf>Asar ava, literally, lord woman, i.e., queen, lady.</ref> i.e., the highest goddess, like the Ersa Ange Patyai, is goddess of life, child-birth, and fruitfulness. In everything she is on the same footing as Soltan, being likewise a creation of Shkai.

From this pair several goddesses were derived : Yurma asa ava, the goddess of household property ; Kud asar ava, goddess of the house (kud) itself and the cattle belonging to it ; Banya asar ava, goddess of the vapour bath (banya), a Russ. loan word ; Avin asar ava, goddess of the drying barn (avin), Russ. loan word ; Pahsya asar ava, goddess of fields (paksya) and meadows; Virya asar ava, goddess of the forest

  1. Both the Turkish Chuvases that live in the same governments as the Mordvins and the Votyaks to the north-east of the latter know a god or divinity named Keremet. See note §§ 2, 6, 8, 10, 12.