Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/79

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lungs, a sudden pause took place amongst the instrumental performers; the instant the music ceased, the dancers broke up, and the whole assembled multitude made a simultaneous rush to the spot in which the deities were enthroned; the inhabitants of each village, seizing upon their god, carried him off without further loss of time; and thus the whole concourse dispersed, as if by enchantment.

Bending their steps to Sungla, the party found the people of the village assembled in an open area in front of the temple, dancing in the same order as before, that is, joining hands, and advancing and receding instead of making the round. They accompanied themselves with their own voices, singing or rather chanting in a wild but not unpleasing manner, completely suited to the occasion: the females were the principal performers here, as well as in other places, the sex manifesting a great predilection to arts which men, both civilized and uncivilized, sometimes regard with disdain. Meantime both men and women indulged very freely in the juice of the grape, drinking deep of the wine, which is imbibed without scruple by these unorthodox Hindoos. The dance, under these circumstances, degenerated into a romping-match, which was kept up until strength and steadiness failed, many measuring the ground in a hopeless state of intoxication, which prevented every effort to rise.

The village of Jungla is small and scattered, in consequence of fires, which on two several occasions committed great havoc among the houses; it is situated on the Thibet side of the snowy chain, and, at the base of the range, at an elevation of nearly nine thousand feet above the level of the sea. The houses are constructed of stone and cedar, the upper story overhanging the road in the peculiar manner which characterizes native architecture in the Himalaya. The air is humid, and unfavourable to several kinds of cultivation, especially that of the grape, which is, however, extensively grown in Koonawar, for the purpose of making wine; while other intoxicating liquids are obtained from different species of grain, the process employed being very effective in procuring a potent spirit. A quantity of dough being prepared and baked, is immersed in wooden vessels with half its weight of water, and buried in the earth for six days in the warm, and nine days in the cold season. Another ingredient is then obtained from grain sown, and plucked up as soon as it appears above the ground; which being dried in the sun, and reduced to powder, is mixed with four times its weight of dough, and then boiled over a slow fire, when it yields a spirit, which is doubled in value if submitted to the boiling process a second time.

Peas and beans thrive very tolerably, but the turnip does not succeed so well, on account of the quantity of rain which falls at this place. The valley of the Baspa is considered to be without the influence of the periodical rains, but though not exposed to the torrents which fall elsewhere, it is visited by such frequent showers, that the ground is kept constantly wet. The tobacco, like all that is at present grown in the hills, is of an inferior quality; the natives improve it for smoking by a mixture of an intoxicating drug, obtained from the leaves and seeds of a plant which exudes a glutinous substance: black cummin is a product of the valley, which the cultivators export to the plains of India; and two descriptions of dye are obtained from the Indian madder; the red sort is in great request, both for giving a vivid colour to the wool which is woven into garments, and as a substitute for the more delicate preparations of rouge used by foreign belles. So efficacious is this root considered in India as a beautifier, that the women, who are particularly anxious to improve their charms, swallow it under the idea that it will heighten the complexion, and add brilliance to their whole appearance. The fruit-trees attain, at this elevation, a very luxuriant growth; and walnuts, nectarines,