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It is curious that in India itself so few actual instances of the Couvade have been discovered. This, however, as Mr. Hartland shows, is not unusual, and the Couvade is not found in the lowest stage of savagery. But that the custom once generally prevailed is quite certain, and in Northern India, at least, it seems to have been masked by special birth ceremonies of great stringency and elaborate detail, but of distinctly later date than the very primitive usage with which we are now concerned.
One instance of the actual Couvade is given by Professor Sir Monier-Williams. Among a very low caste of basketmakers in Gujarât, it is the usual practice for a wife to go about her work immediately after delivery, as if nothing had occurred. “The presiding Mother (Mâtâ) of the tribe is supposed to transfer the weakness to her husband, who takes to his bed and has to be supported for several days with good nourishing food.” Again, among the Kols of Chota Nagpur, father and mother are considered impure for eight days, during which period the members of the family are sent out of the house, and the husband has to cook for his wife. If it be a difficult case of parturition, the malignancy of some spirit of evil is supposed to be at work, and after divination to ascertain his name, a sacrifice is made to appease him. Among many of the Drâvidian tribes of Mirzapur, when the posset or spiced drink is prepared for the mother after her confinement, the father is obliged to drink the first sup of it. Among all these people, the father does not work or leave the house during the period of parturition impurity, and cooks for his wife. When asked why he refrains from work, they simply say that he is so pleased with the safety of his wife and the birth of his child, that he takes a holiday; but some survival of the Couvade is probably at the root of the custom. The same idea prevails in a modified form in Bombay. The Pomaliyas,
lives. Precaution then may be relaxed, and ultimately remitted altogether."-"Legend of Perseus," ii. 406. 1 “Brâhmanism and Hinduism, 229.
? Dalton," Descriptive Ethnology," 191 ; Risley, “Tribes and Castes," i. 323; Tylor, “Primitive Culture," i. 84.
gold-washers of South Gujarât, after a birth, take great care of the husband, give him food, and do not allow him to go out; and “when a child is born to a Deshasth Brâhman, he throws himself into a well with all his clothes on, and, in the presence of his wife's relations, lets a couple of drops of honey and butter fall into the mouth of the child." I
VARIOUS BIRTH CEREMONIES. The same idea that the infant is likely to receive demoniacal influences through its father appears to be the explanation of another class of birth ceremonies. In Northern India, in respectable families, the father does not look on the child until the astrologer selects a favourable moment. If the birth occur in the unlucky lunar asterism of Mûl, the father is often not allowed to see his child for years, and has in addition to undergo an elaborate rite of purification, known as Mula-sânti. So, in Bombay, "the Belgaum Chitpavans do not allow the father to look on the new-born child, but at its reflection in butter. The Dharwâr Radders do not allow the father to see the lamp being waved round the image of Satvâî, the birth goddess. If the father sees it, it is believed that the mother and child will sicken. The Karnatak Jainas allow anyone to feed the new-born babe with honey and castor oil, except the father. Among the Beni Israels, when the boy is being circumcised, the father sits apart covered with a veil. Among the Pûna Musalmâns, friends are called to eat the goat offered as a sacrifice on the birth of a child. All join in the feast except the parents, who may not eat the sacrifice."? Probably on the same principle, among most of the lower castes, the father and mother do not eat on the wedding day of their children until the ceremony is
PLACES INFESTED BY BHÚTS : BURIAL PLACES. There are, of course, certain places which are particularly
· Campbell, “ Notes,” 410.
infested by Bhûts. To begin with, they naturally infest the neighbourhood of burial places and cremation grounds. This idea is found all over the world. Virgil says:
Moerim, saepe animas imis excire sepulcris,
and Shakespeare in the “Midsummer Night's Dream,”
Now it is the time of night
All deserts, also, are a resort of Bhûts, as the great desert of Lop, where Marco Polo assures us they are constantly seen at night. In the Western Panjâb deserts, during the prairie fires and in the dead of night, the lonely herdsmen used to hear cries arising from the ground, and shouts of Már! Mâr! « Strike! Strike!” which were ascribed to the spirits of men who had been killed in former frontier raids. Such supernatural sounds were heard by the early settlers within the last fifty years, and, until quite recently, the people were afraid to travel without forming large parties for fear of encountering the supernatural enemies who frequented these uninhabited tracts. So, among the Mirzapur jungle tribes, the wild forests of Sarguja are supposed to be infested with Bhûts, and if any one goes there rashly he is attacked through their influence with diarrhoea and vomiting. The site of the present British Residency at Kathmandu in Nepal was specially selected by the Nepalese as it was a barren patch, supposed to be the abode of demons. So, in Scotland, the local spirit lives in a patch of untilled ground, known as the “Gudeman's field” or “Cloutie's Croft."
1 "Sirsa Settlement Report,” 32. | Wright, “History," 15 Yule, “ Marco Polo," i. 203; Spencer, Principles of Sociology," i. 249 sq.; Henderson, “Folk-lore of the Northern Counties," 278.
OWLS AND BATS.
The goblins of the churchyard type very often take the form of owls and bats, which haunt the abodes of the dead. “ Screech owls are held unlucky in our days,” says Aubrey.'
Sedit in adverso nocturnus culmine bubo,
Funereosque graves edidit ore sonos. The Strix, or screech owl, in Roman folk-lore was supposed to suck the blood of young children. Another form of the word in Latin is Striga, meaning a hag or witch. The Lilith of the Jews, the “night monster” of our latest version of the Old Testament, becomes in the Rabbinical stories Adam's first wife, “the Queen of demons” and murderess of young children, who is the night hag” of Milton.
The Kumaun owl legend is that they had originally no plumes of their own, and were forced to borrow those of their neighbours, who pursue them if they find them abroad at daylight. Owl's flesh is a powerful love philter, and the eating of it causes a man to become a fool and to lose his memory ; hence, women give it to their husbands, that as a result of the mental weakness which it produces they may be able to carry on their flirtations with impunity. On the other hand, the owl is the type of wisdom, and eating the eyeballs of an owl gives the power of seeing in the dark, an excellent example of sympathetic magic. If you put an owl in a room, go in naked, shut the door and feed the bird with meat all night, you acquire magical powers. I once had a native clerk who was supposed to have gone through this ordeal, and was much feared accordingly. Here we have another instance of the nudity charm. In the same way in Gujarât, if a man takes seven cotton threads, goes to a place where an owl is hooting, strips naked, ties a knot at each hoot, and fastens the thread round the right arm of a fever patient, the fever goes away.'
1 “Remaines," 109 sq. ; Spencer, loc. cit., i. 329; Farrer, “Primitive Manners," 24, 225 sq.
2 Isaiah xxxiv. 14 ; Mayhew, “ Academy,” June 14th, 1884; Conway, “Demonology," ii. 91 sqq. ; Gubernatis, “Zoological Mythology," ii. 202. Campbell,
'« Notes, 59.
GHOSTs AND BURIAL GROUNDS.
To return to the connection of ghosts with burial grounds. At Bishesar in the Hills, the Hindu dead from Almora are burnt. The spirits of the departed are supposed to lurk there and are occasionally seen. Sometimes, under the guidance of their leader Bholanāth, whom we have mentioned already, they come, some in palanquins and some on foot, at night, to the Almora Bāzār and visit the merchants' shops. Death is supposed to follow soon on a meeting with their processions. These ghosts are supposed to be deficient in some of their members. One has no head, another no feet, and so on; but they can all talk and dance."
This illustrates another principle about ghosts, that mutilation during life is avoided, as being likely to turn the spirit into a malignant ghost after death. This is the reason that many savages keep the cuttings of their hair and nails, not only to put them out of the way of witches, who might work evil charms by their means, but also that the body when it rises at the Last Day may not be deficient in any part.” This also explains the strong feeling among Hindus against decapitation as a form of execution, and the dread which Musalmāns exhibit towards cremation. It also, in all probability, explains the lame demons, which abound all the world over, like Hephaistos, Wayland Smith, the Persian AEshma, the Asmodeus of the book of Tobit, and the Clubfooted Devil of Christianity. The prejudice against amputation, based on this idea, is one of the many difficulties which meet our surgeons in India.
GHOSTs OF OLD RUINs. Another place where ghosts, as might have been expected,
* “Journal Asiatic Society Bengal,” 1848, p. 609; Benjamin, “Persia,” 192; Tylor, “Primitive Culture,” i. 451.
* Frazer, “Golden Bough,” i. 204; Tylor, loc. cit., ii. 230; “Early History,”, 358; Cox, “Mythology of the Aryan Nations,” ii. 327; Conway, “Demonology,” i. 18.