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valley, where the population has been completely Hinduized, the shrine of the collective village deities, known as the Deohâr, consists of a pile of stones, some of which may be the fragments of a temple of the olden days, collected under some ancient, sacred tree. The shrine is the store-house of anything in the way of a curious stone to be found in the village, water-worn pebbles or boulders, anything with eccentric veining or marking. Here have been occasionally found celts and stone hatchets, relics of an age anterior to the general use of iron. In the same way in some European countries the celt or stone arrow-head is worn as an amulet.
Little clay images of elephants and horses are often found near these shrines. Some villagers will say that these represent the equipage (sawârî) of the deity; others explain them by the fact that a person in distress vows a horse or an elephant to the god, and when his wishes are realized, offers as a substitute this trumpery donation.
It was a common practice to offer substitutes of this kind. Thus when an animal could not be procured for sacrifice, an image of it in dough or wax was prepared and offered as a substitute.' We shall meet later on other examples of substitution of the same kind. On the same principle women used to give cakes in the form of a phallus to a Brâhman. At these shrines are also found curious little clay bowls with short legs which are known as kalsa. The kalsa or water jar is always placed near the pole of the marriage shed, and the use of these beehive-shaped vessels at village shrines is found all along the hills of Central India. On the neighbouring trees are often hung miniature cots, which commemorate the recovery of a patient from small-pox or other infectious disease.
Among the semi-Hinduized Dravidian races of the Vindhyan range, many of whom worship Gansâm or Râja Lâkhan, the shrine usually consists of a rude mud building or a structure made of bamboo and straw, roofed with a coarse
| Frazer, “ Golden Bough,” ii. 83.
thatch, which is often allowed to fall into disrepair, until the godling reminds his votaries of his displeasure by an outbreak of epidemic disease or some other misfortune which attacks the village. The shrine is in charge of the village Baiga, who is invariably selected from among some of the ruder forest tribes, such as the Bhuiya, Bhuiyār or Chero. Inside is a small platform known as “the seat of the godling ” (Devatā kā baithak), on which are usually placed some of the curious earthen bowls already described, which are made specially for this worship, and are not used for domestic purposes. In these water is placed for the refreshment of the godling, and they thus resemble the funeral vases of the Greeks. In ordinary cases the offering deposited on the platform consists of a a thick griddle cake, a little milk, and perhaps a few jungle flowers; but in more serious cases where the deity makes his presence disagreeably felt, he is propitiated with a goat, pig, or fowl, which is decapitated outside the shrine, with the national and sacrificial axe. The head is brought inside dripping with blood, and a few drops of blood are allowed to fall on the platform. The head of the victim then becomes the perquisite of the officiating Baiga, and the rest of the meat is cooked and eaten near the shrine by the adult male worshippers, married women and children being carefully excluded from a share in the offering. The special regard paid to the head of the victim is quite in consonance with traditions of European paganism and folk-lore in many countries." Lower south, beyond the river Son, the shrine is of even a simpler type, and is there often represented by a few boulders near a stream, where the worshippers assemble and make their offerings. The non-Brähmanic character of the worship is still further marked by the fact that no special direction from the homestead is prescribed in selecting the site for the shrine. No orthodox Hindu temple can be built south of the village site, as this quarter is regarded as the realm of Yama, the god of death; here vagrant evil spirits prowl and consume or defile the offerings made to the greater gods. In the more Hinduized jungle villages some attempt is occasionally made to conform to this rule, and sometimes, as in the case of the more respectable Hindu shrines, the door faces the east. But this rule is not universal, and the site of the shrine is often selected under some suitable tree, whatever may be its position as regards the homestead, and it very often commemorates some half-forgotten tragedy, where a man was carried off by a tiger or slain or murdered, where he fell from a tree or was drowned in a watercourse. Here some sort of shrine is generally erected with the object of appeasing the angry spirit of the dead man. These shrines have no idol, no bell to scare vagrant ghosts and awake the godling to partake of the offerings or listen to the prayers of his votaries. If he is believed to be absent or asleep, a drum is beaten to awaken or recall him, and this answers the additional purpose of scaring off intruding spirits, who are always hungry and on the watch to appropriate the offerings of the faithful. Here are also none of the sacrificial vessels, brazen lamps and cups, which are largely used in respectable fanes for waving a light before the deity as part of the service, or for cooling the idol with libations of water, and the instrument used for sacrificing the victim is only the ordinary axe which the dweller in the jungle always carries. There is one special implement which is very commonly found in the village shrines of the hill country south of the Ganges. This is an iron chain with a heavy knob at the end, to which a strap, like a Scotch tawse, is often attached. The chain is ordinarily three and a half feet long, the tawse two feet, and the total weight is about seven pounds. This is known as the Gurda; it hangs from the roof of the shrine, and is believed to be directly under the influence of the deity, so that it is very difficult to procure a specimen. The Baiga priest, when his services are required for the exorcism of a disease ghost, thrashes himself on the back and loins with his chain, until he works himself up to the proper degree of
* Gomme, “Ethnology in Folk-lore,” 34 sq.