Part 7 out of 8
CLII. The Sarsagun Maiden.
There was once a Sarsagun girl who was going to be married; and a
large party of her girl friends went to the jungle to pick leaves
for the wedding. The Sarsagun girl persisted in going with them as
usual though they begged her not to do so. As they picked the leaves
they sang songs and choruses; so they worked and sang till they came
to a tree covered with beautiful flowers; they all longed to adorn
their hair with the flowers but the difficulty was that they had no
comb or looking glass; at last one girl said that a _bonga Kora_
lived close by who could supply them; thereupon there was a great
dispute as to who should go to the _bonga Kora_ and ask for a mirror
and comb; each wanted the other to go; and in the end they made the
Sarsagun girl go. She went to the _bonga Kora_ and called "Bonga Kora
give a me mirror and comb that we may adorn our hair with _Mirjin_
flowers." The Bonga Kora pointed them out to her lying on a shelf
and she took them away.
Then they had a gay time adorning their hair; but when they had
finished not one of the girls would consent to take back the mirror
and comb. The Sarsagun maiden urged that as she had brought them it
was only fair that someone else should take them back; but they would
not listen, so in the end she had to take them. The Bonga Kora pointed
to a shelf for her to place them on but when she went to do so and
was well inside his house he closed the door and shut her in. Her
companions waited for her return till they were tired and then went
home and told her mother what had happened. Then her father and brother
went in search of her and coming to the Bonga Kora's home they sang:
"Daughter, you combed yourself with a one row comb
Daughter, you put _mirjin_ flowers in your hair
Daughter, come hither to us."
But she only answered from within--
"He has shut me in with a stone, father
He has closed the door upon me, father
Do you and my mother go home again."
Then her eldest brother came and sang the same song and received the
same answer; her mothers's brother and father's sister then came and
sang, also in vain; so they all went home.
Just then the intended bridegroom with his party arrived at the village
and were welcomed with refreshments and invited to camp under a tree;
but while the bridegroom's party were taking their ease, the bride's
relations were in a great to-do because the bride was missing; and
when the matchmaker came and asked them to get the marriage ceremony
over at once that the bridegroom might return, they had to take
him into the house and tell him what had happened. The matchmaker
went and told the bridegroom, who at once called his men to him and
mounted his horse and rode off in a rage. Now it happened that the
drummers attached to the procession had stopped just in front of the
home of the _Bonga Kora_ and were drumming away there; so when the
bridegroom rode up to them his horse passed over the door of the Bonga
Kora's home and stamped on it so hard that it flew open; standing just
inside was the Sarsagun girl; at once the bridegroom pulled her out,
placed her on his horse and rode off with her to his home.
CLIII. The Schoolboy and the Bonga.
There was once a boy who went every day to school and on his way
home he used always to bathe in a certain tank. Every day he left his
books and slate on the bank while he bathed and no one ever touched
them. But one day while he was in the water a _bonga_ maiden came
out of the tank and took his books and slate with her under the
water. When the boy had finished bathing he searched for them a
long time in vain and then went home crying. When the midday meal
was served he refused to eat anything unless his books were found:
his father and mother promised to find them for him and so he ate a
very little. When the meal was finished his father and mother went
to the bonga maiden and besought her--singing
"Give daughter-in-law, give
Give our boy his pen, give up his pen."
The _bonga_ maiden sang in answer
"Let the owner of the pen
Come himself and fetch it."
Then the boy's eldest brother and his wife went and sang
"Give, sister-in-law, give,
Give our brother his pen: give up his pen."
The _bonga_ maiden sing in answer
"Let the owner of the pen
Come himself and fetch it"
Then the boy's maternal uncle and his wife went and sang the same
song and received the same answer. So they told the boy that he must
When he reached the tank the _bonga_ girl came up and held out his
books to him; but when he went to take them she drew back and so she
enticed him into the tank; but when once he was under the water he
found he was in quite a dry and sandy place. There he stayed and was
married to the _bonga_ girl. After he had lived with her a long time
he became homesick and longed to see his father and mother. So he
told his _bonga_ wife that he must go and visit them. "Then do not
take your school books with you," said she; "perhaps you won't come
back." "No, I will surely return," he answered; so she agreed to his
going and said that she would sit on the door step and watch for his
return; and he must promise to be very quick. She tied up some cakes
and dried rice for him and also gave him back his school books.
She watched him go to his home and sat and watched for his return but
he never came back. Evening came and night came but he did not return:
then the _bonga_ girl rose and went after him. She went through the
garden and up to her husband's house in a flame of fire: and there
she changed herself into a Karinangin snake and entering the house
climbed on to the bed where the boy lay sleeping and climbed on to
his breast and bit him.
"Rise mother, rise mother,
The Karinangin snake
Is biting me."
But no one heard him though he kept on calling: so he died and the
_bonga_ girl went away with his spirit.
CLIV. The Bonga's Cave.
There was once a young _bonga_ who dwelt in a cave in the side of a
hill in the jungle; and every day he placed on a flat stone outside,
a pot of oil and a comb and a looking glass and some lamp black or
vermilion; any woman who went to the jungle could see these things
lying there; but they were never visible to a man. After a time the
girls who went to the jungle began to use the comb and looking glass
and to dress and oil their hair there; it became a regular custom for
them to go first to the flat stone before collecting their firewood
One day five girls went together to the jungle and after they had
combed and dressed their hair it happened that one got left behind;
and seeing her alone the _bonga_ came out of the cave and creeping
up quietly from behind threw his arms round her; and although she
shouted to her friends for help he dragged her inside the cave. Her
companions were just in time to see her disappear; and they begged
and prayed the _bonga_ to let the girl go for once; but the _bonga_
answered from within that he would never let her go but was going to
keep her as his wife; and he drew a stone door over the mouth of the
cave. News of the misfortune was sent to the girl's parents and they
came hastening to the place; and her mother began to sing:
"My daughter, you rubbed your hair with oil from a pot:
My daughter, you combed your hair with a comb with one row of teeth;
Come hither to me, my daughter."
And the girl sang from within the cave:
"Mother, he has shut me in with a stone
With a stone door he has shut me in, mother
Mother, you must go back home."
Then her father sang the same song and got the same answer; so they
all went home. Then the girl's father's younger brother and his wife
came and sang the song and received the same answer and then her
mother's brother and father's sister came and then all her relations,
but all in vain. Last of all came her brother riding on a horse and
when he heard his sister's answer he turned his horse round and made
it prance and kick until it kicked open the stone door of the cave;
but this was of no avail for inside were inner doors which he could not
open; so he also had to go home and leave his sister with the _bonga_.
The girl was not unhappy as the wife of the _bonga_ and after a time
she proposed to him they should go and pay a visit to her parents. So
the next day they took some cakes and dried rice and set off; they were
welcomed right warmly and pressed to stay the night. In the course of
the afternoon the girl's mother chanced to look at the provisions which
they had brought with them; and was surprised to see that in place of
cakes was dried cowdung and instead of rice, leaves of the _meral_
tree. The mother called her daughter in to look but the girl could
give no explanation; all she knew was that she had put up cakes and
dried rice at starting. Her father told them all to keep quiet about
the matter lest there should be any unpleasantness and the _bonga_
decline to come and visit them again.
Now the girl's brother had become great friends with his _bonga_
brother-in-law and it was only natural that when the _bonga_ and his
wife set off home the next morning he should offer to accompany them
part of the way. Off they started, the girl in front, then the _bonga_
and then her brother; now the brother had hidden an axe under his cloth
and as they were passing through some jungle he suddenly attacked the
_bonga_ from behind and cut off his head. Then he called to his sister
that he had killed the _bonga_ and bade her come back with him; so the
two turned back and as they looked round this saw that the _bonga's_
head was coming rolling after them. At this they started to run and ran
as hard as they could until they got to the house and all the way the
head came rolling after until it rolled right into the house. There
was a fire burning on the hearth and they plucked up courage to take
the head and throw it into the fire where it was burnt to ashes. That
was the end of the _bonga_ but eight or nine days later the girl's
head began to ache and in spite of all medicines they applied it got
worse and worse until in a short time she died. Then they knew that
the _bonga_ had taken her away and had not given her up.
CLV. The Bonga's Victim.
Once upon a time there were seven brothers and they had one
sister. Every day they used to go out hunting leaving their wives
and sister at home. One very hot day they had been hunting since dawn
and began to feel very thirsty; so they searched for water but could
find none. Then one of them climbed a tree and from its summit saw a
beautiful pool of water close by: so he came down and they all went in
the direction in which he had seen the water; but they could not find
it anywhere; so another of the brothers climbed a tree and he called
out that he could see the pool close by, but when he came down and led
them in what he thought was the right direction he was equally unable
to find the water; and so it went on; whenever they climbed a tree
they could see the water close by, but when on the ground they could
not find it; and all the time they were suffering tortures from thirst.
Then they saw that some _bonga_ was deluding them and that they must
offer some sacrifice to appease him.
At first they proposed to devote one of their wives to the _bonga_;
but not one of the brothers was willing that his wife should be the
victim; and they had no children to offer so at last they decided to
dedicate their only sister as the sacrifice. Then they prayed "Ye who
are keeping the water from us, listen; we dedicate to you our only
sister; show us where the water is." No sooner had they said this
than they saw a pool of water close beside them and hastened to it
and quenched their thirst. Then they rested and began to discuss how
they should sacrifice their sister; and at last they decided that
as they had devoted her to the _bonga_ because they wanted water,
it would be best to cast her into the water; and they planned to go
and work one day near a pond of theirs and make their sister bring
their breakfast out to them and then drown her.
So they went home and two or three days later the eldest brother
said that the time had come for the sacrifice; but the two youngest
loved their sister very much and begged for a little delay. Out of
pity the others agreed; but almost at once one of the brothers fell
ill and was like to die. Medicines were tried but had no effect;
then they called in an _ojha_ and he told them that the _bonga_ to
whom they had made the vow while out hunting had caused the illness
and that if they did not fulfil the vow their brother would die. Then
they all went to the sick man's bedside and poured out water on the
ground and swore that they would fulfil their vow; no sooner had they
done so than the sick man was restored to health.
So the very next day they arranged to go and level the field near
their pond and they told their wives to send their sister to them with
their breakfast. When the time came the girl took out their breakfast
and put it down by them and they sent her to draw water for them from
the pond but when she put her water pot down to the surface it would
not sink so as to let the water run in. The girl called out to her
brothers that the pot would not fill; they told her to go a little
further into the water; so she went in till the water was up to her
thighs but still the pot would not fill: then they called to her
to go in further and she went in waist deep but still it would not
fill; then she went in up to her neck and still it would not fill;
then she went in a little further and the water closed over her and
she was drowned. At this sight the brothers threw away the food which
she had brought and hastened home.
Some days later the body rose and floated to the bank and at the place
where it lay a bamboo sprang up and grew and flourished. One day a
Dome went to cut it down to make a flute of; as he raised his axe
the voice of the girl spoke from within the bamboo "O Dome, do not
cut high up; cut low down." The Dome looked about but could not see
who it was who spoke; however he obeyed the voice and cut the bamboo
close to the ground and made a flute of it. The sound of the flute
was surpassingly sweet and the Dome used to play on it every day. One
day he was playing on it at a friend's house and a Santal heard it
and was so taken by its sweet tone that he came at night and stole it.
Having got possession of it he used to play on it constantly and
always keep it by him. Every night the flute became a woman and the
Santal found her in his house without knowing where she came from and
used to spend the night talking to her but towards morning she used
to go outside the house on some pretext and disappear. But one night
as she was about to depart the Santal seized her and forced her to
stay with him. Then she retained her human form but the flute was
never seen afterwards; so they called the girl the Flute girl and
she and the Santal were betrothed and soon afterwards married.
CLVI. Baijal and the Bonga.
Once upon a time there was a young man named Baijal and he was
very skilful at playing on the bamboo flute. He played so sweetly
that a _bonga_ girl who heard him fell deeply in love with him and
one day when Baijal was alone in the jungle she took the form of a
pretty girl and pretended that she had come to the jungle to gather
leaves. The two met and acquaintance soon became love and the two
used to meet each other every day in the jungle. One day the _bonga_
girl asked Baijal to come home with her; so they went to a pool of
water and waded into it but when the water had risen to the calf of
his leg Baijal suddenly found himself on a broad dry road which led to
his mistress's house. When they reached it the bonga girl introduced
Baijal to her father and brothers as her husband and told him not to be
afraid of anything he saw; but he could not help feeling frightened,
for the stools on which they sat were coiled-up snakes and the house
dogs were tigers and leopards.
After he had been there three of four day his brothers-in-law one
morning asked him to come out hunting pea fowl. He readily agreed and
they all set out together. The Bongas asked Baijal to lead the dog
but as the dog was a tiger he begged to be excused until they reached
the jungle. So they hunted through the hills and valleys until they
came to a clearing in which there was a man chopping up a tree. Then
the _bongas_ called to Baijal "There is a peacock feeding; take the
dog; throw a stick and knock the bird over and then loose the dog at
it." Baijal pretended not to understand and said that he could see no
peacock; then they told him plainly that the man chopping the log was
their game. Then he saw that he was meant to kill the man and not only
so, but that he would have to eat the flesh afterwards. However he was
afraid to refuse, so he took the tiger in the leash and went towards
the clearing but instead of first throwing his stick at the man he
merely let the tiger loose and cheered it on. The wood cutter heard
the shout and looking round saw the tiger; grasping his axe he ran to
meet it and as the animal sprang on him he smote it on the head and
killed it. Then Baijal went back and told his brothers-in-law that
the peacock had pecked their hound to death. They were very angry
with him for not throwing his stick first but he explained that he
thought that such a big dog as theirs would not need any help.
Two or three days later Baijal told his _bonga_ wife to come home with
him, so they set off with a bundle of provisions for the journey. When
they had passed out through the pool Baijal opened the bundle to have
something to eat but found that the bread had turned into cowdung
fuel cakes; and the parched rice into _meral_ leaves; so he threw
them all away. However he would not give up the _bonga_ girl and they
used to meet daily and in the course of time two children were born
to them. Whenever there was a dance in the village the _bonga_ girl
used to come to it. She would leave the two children on Baijal's bed
and spend the whole night dancing with the other women of the village.
The time came when Baijal's parents arranged for his marriage,
for they knew nothing of his _bonga_ wife; and before the marriage
the _bonga_ made him promise that if he had a daughter he would name
the child after her. Even when he was married he did not give up his
_bonga_ wife and used to meet her as before. One night she came with
her children to a dance and after dancing some time said that she was
tired and would go away; Baijal urged her not to go but to come with
her children and live in his house along with his other wife. She
would not agree and he tried to force her and shut the door of the
house; but she and her children rose to the roof in a flash of light
and disappeared over the top of the house wall and passed away from
the village in a flame of fire. At this Baijal was so frightened that
from that time he gave her up and never went near her again.
By and bye his wife bore him a daughter but they did not name the
child after the _bonga_ and the consequence was that it soon pined
away and died. Two or three more were born but they also all died
young because he had not named them after the _bonga_. At last he did
give a daughter the right name and from that time his children lived.
CLVII. Ramai and the Bonga.
Once a _bonga_  haunted the house of a certain man and became such
a nuisance that the man had him exorcised and safely pegged down to
the ground; and they fenced in the place where the _bonga_ lay with
thorns and put a large stone on the top of him. Just at the place
was a clump of "Kite's claws" bushes and one day when the berries
on the bushes were ripe, a certain cowherd named Ramai went to pick
them and when he came round to the stone which covered the _bonga_
he stood on it to pick the fruit and the _bonga_ called out to him
to get off the stone; Ramai looked about and seeing no one said "Who
is that speaking?" and the voice said "I am buried under the stone;
if you will take it off me I will give you whatever boon you ask";
Ramai said that he was afraid that the _bonga_ would eat him but the
_bonga_ swore to do him no harm, so he lifted up the stone and the
_bonga_ came out and thanking Ramai told him to ask a boon.
Ramai asked for the power to see _bongas_ and to understand the
language of ants. "I will give you the power," said the _bonga_,
"but you must tell no one about it, not even your wife; if you do
you will lose the power and in that case you must not blame me,"
Then the _bonga_ blew into his ear and he heard the speech of ants;
and the _bonga_ scratched the film of his eye balls with a thorn
and he saw the _bongas_: and there were crowds of them living in
villages like men. In December when we thresh the rice the _bongos_
carry off half of it; but Ramai could see them and would drive them
away and so was able to save his rice.
Once a young fellow of his own age was very ill; and his friends blew
into his ears and partially brought him to his senses and he asked
them to send for Ramai; so they called Ramai and he had just been
milking his cows and came with the tethering rope in his hand; and
when he entered the room he saw a _bonga_ sitting on the sick man's
chest and twisting his neck; so he flogged it with the rope till it
ran away and he pursued it until it threw itself into a pool of water;
and then the sick man recovered.
But Ramai soon lost his useful power; one day as he was eating his
dinner he dropped some grains of rice and two ants fell to quarrelling
over one grain and Ramai heard them abusing each other and was so
amused that he laughed out loud.
His wife asked why he laughed and he said at nothing in particular,
but she insisted on knowing and he said that it was at some scandal he
had heard in the village; but she would not believe him and worried
him until he told her that it was at the quarrel of the ants. Then
she made him tell her how he gained the power to understand what
they said: but from that moment he lost the powers which the _bonga_
had conferred on him.
CLVIII. The Boundary Bonga.
There was once a man who owned a rich swampy rice field. Every year
he used to sacrifice a pig to the boundary _bonga_ before harvest;
but nevertheless the _bonga_ always reaped part of the crop. One year
when the rice was ripening the man used to go and look at it every
day. One evening after dusk as he was sitting quietly at the edge of
the field he overheard the _bonga_ and his wife talking. The _bonga_
said that he was going to pay a visit to some friends but his wife
begged him not to go because the rice was ripe and the farmer would
be cutting it almost at once. However the _bonga_ would not listen
to her advice and set off on his journey.
The farmer saw that there was no time to be lost and the very next
day he sacrificed the usual pig and reaped the whole of the crop. That
evening when work was over he stayed and listened to hear whether the
_bonga_ had come back, but all was quiet. The next day he threshed
the paddy and instead of twenty bushels as usual he found that he had
got sixty bushels of rice, That evening he again went to the field
and this time he found that the _bonga_ had returned and was having
a fine scolding from his wife, because he had let the farmer reap the
whole crop. "Take your silly pig and your silly plate of flour from the
sacrifice," screamed the _bonga's_ wife, throwing them at her spouse,
"that is all you have got; this is all because you would go away when
I told you not to do it; how could I reap the crop with the children
to look after? If you had stayed we might have got five _bandis_
of rice from that field."
CLIX. The Bonga Exorcised.
A very poor man was once ploughing his field and as he ploughed the
share caught fast in something. At first he thought that it was
a root and tried to divide it with his axe; but as he could not
cut it he looked closer and found that it was a copper chain. He
followed the chain along and at either end he found a brass pot full
of rupees. Delighted with his luck he wrapped the pots in his cloth
and hurried home. Then he and his wife counted the money and buried
it under the floor of their house.
From that time the man began to prosper; his crops were always good;
and his cattle increased and multiplied; he had many children and
they grew up strong and healthy and were married and had children of
But after many years luck changed. The family was constantly ill and
every year a child died. The _jan guru_ who was consulted declared
that a _Kisar bonga_ was responsible for their misfortunes. He told
the sons how their father had found the money in the ground and said
that the _bonga_ to whom the money belonged was responsible for their
misfortunes and was named Mainomati.
He told them how to get rid of the _bonga_. They were to dig up
the buried money and place it in bags; and load it on the back of a
young heifer; and take five brass nails and four copper nails, and
two rams. If the _bonga_ was willing to leave the house the heifer
would walk away to another village directly the bags were placed on
its back; but if the _bonga_ would not go the heifer would not move.
So they did as the _Janguru_ advised and when the bags were placed
on the heifer it walked away to a large peepul tree growing on the
banks of a stream in another village and there it stopped. Then they
sacrificed the rams and uttering vows over the nails drove them into
the peepul tree and went home, turning the heifer loose. From that
time their troubles ceased.
But that evening a man driving his cattle home saw a young woman
nailed to the peepul tree; and not knowing that she was a _bonga_
he released her and took her home and married her.
The legends and customary beliefs contained in this part are definitely
connected with the Santals.
CLX. The Beginning of Things.
In the days of old, Thakur Baba had made everything very convenient for
mankind and it was by our own fault that we made Thakur Baba angry so
that he swore that we must spend labour in making things ready for use.
This is the story that I have heard.
When the Santals lived in Champa and the Kiskus were their kings, the
Santals were very simple and religious and only worshipped Thakur. In
those days the rice grew ready husked, and the cotton bushes bore
cloth all ready woven and men did not have to pick the lice out of
each others' hair; men's skulls grew loose and each man could lift
off his own skull and clean it and then replace it. But all this was
spoilt by the misdeeds of a serving girl of one of the Rajas. When
she went into the field for purposes of nature she would at the same
time pick and eat the rice that grew by her; and when she had made
her hands dirty cleaning out a cow house she would wipe them on the
cloth which she was wearing. Angered by these dirty habits Thakur Baba
deprived men of the benefits which he had conferred upon them and the
rice began to grow in a husk and the cotton plants only produced raw
cotton and men's skulls became fixed so that they could not be removed.
In those old days too the sky was quite close to the earth and Thakur
Baba used to come and visit men in their houses. So it was a saying
among our forefathers "Do, not throw your dirty leaf plates near the
front or back door and do not let your brass plates and dishes remain
unwashed at night; for if Thakur Baba come along and see them so, he
will not come into the house but will be angry and curse us." But one
day a woman after finishing her meal threw the used leaf plate out of
the door, and a gust of wind carried it up to the sky; this displeased
Thakur Baba and he resolved no longer to dwell in the neighbourhood of
men as they were so ill-mannered as to throw their dirty leaf plates
at him and so he lifted the sky to its present height above the earth.
To this day men who have heard of this scold those who throw their
refuse into the street and bid them heap it up in some out-of-the-way
The misdeeds of men at length made Thakur Baba so angry that he
resolved to destroy them all. Now Thakur Baba is Sing Chando or
the Sun, and the Moon is his wife: and at first there were as many
stars by day as there are by night and they were all the children of
the Sun and Moon who had divided them between them. So Sing Chando
having resolved to destroy mankind blazed with a fierce heat till man
and beast writhed under the torture of it. But when the Moon looked
down and saw their sufferings she was filled with pity and thought
how desolate the earth would be without a living being on it. So she
hastened to Sing Chando and prayed him not to desolate the earth; but
for all her beseeching the utmost that she could obtain was a promise
from her Lord that he would spare one or two human beings to be the
seed of a future race. So Sing Chando chose out a young man and a young
woman and bade them go into a cave in a hill side and close the mouth
of the cave with a raw hide and when they were safely inside he rained
fire from heaven and killed every other living being on the earth.
Five days and five nights it rained fire and the man and woman in
the cave sang--(to the Baha tune)
"Five days and five nights the fire will rain, ho!
Five days and five nights, all night long, ho!
Where will you two human beings stay?
Where will you two take shelter?
There is a hide, a hide:
There is also a hill:
There is also a cave in the rock!
There will we two stay:
There will we two take shelter."
When they came out of the cave the first thing they saw was a cow lying
burnt to death with a _karke_ tree fallen on the top of it and near
it was lying a buffalo cow burnt to death; at the sight they sang:--
"The cow is glowing cinders, glowing cinders:
The _karke_ tree is burnt:
The buffalo cow has fallen and has been burnt
to ashes, to ashes."
And as they went on, they sang a similar lament over the remains of
each living being as they saw it.
Although these two had been spared to raise up a new race, Ninda
Chando, the Moon, feared that the Sun would again get angry with the
new race and destroy it; and so she made a plan to trick him. She
covered up all her children with a large basket and smeared her mouth
and lips with red and going to Sing Chando told him that she had eaten
up every one of her children and proposed that he should now eat up
his. At first Sing Chando declined to believe her but she pointed to
her lips and said that they were red with the blood of the children;
so Sing Chando was convinced and agreed to eat up his children except
two whom he would keep to play with. So they devoured all but two
and the two that were saved are the morning and evening stars.
Thus Sing Chando was deprived of the power to again burn up the earth;
but when that night Ninda Chando let out her own children from under
the basket she warned them to beware of the wrath of their father when
he found out the trick that had been played him. When Sing Chando
saw Ninda Chando's children still alive he flew to her in a passion
and the children at the sight of him scattered in all directions and
that is why the stars are now spread all over the sky; at first they
were all in one place. Although the stars escaped, Sing Chando could
not restrain his wrath and cut Ninda Chando in two and that is why
the Moon waxes and wanes; at first she was always full like the sun.
Some men say that the man and woman whom Thakur hid in the cave were
Pilchu Haram and Pilchu Budhi and they had twelve sons and twelve
daughters and mankind is descended from them and has increased
and filled the earth; and that it was in that country that we were
divided into twelve different races according to the food which our
progenitors chose at a feast.
CLXI. Chando and His Wife.
Once upon a time Chando went to the hills to fashion a plough out of
a log of wood; and his wife was left at home alone, Chando was so
long in coming back that his wife grew impatient; so she made some
mosquitos and sent them to worry him and drive him home. But Chando
made some dragon-flies and they ate up the mosquitos and he went on
with his work. His wife made various other animals and sent them out,
but Chando destroyed them all. At last she made a tiger and sent it
to frighten him home; but Chando took up a handful of chips from the
log he was cutting and threw them at the tiger and they turned into
wild dogs and chased the tiger away. Ever since that no tiger will
face wild dogs.
Then Chando's wife shut up a locust in an iron pot and when Chando at
last came home she asked him "Why have you been so long? Who is to
give food and drink to all the living creatures if you don't attend
to business." Chando answered that he had fed them all.
"No you have not, you have not fed the locust!"
"But I have" said Chando.
Then she took the lid off the iron pot and showed him the locust
eating grass inside; and Chando had nothing to say.
CLXII. The Sikhar Raja.
Santals say that the Sikhar Raja was a _bonga_ and this is the story
they tell about him. A certain woman was with child but could not
say by whom she was pregnant so she fled into the jungle and at the
foot of a clump of bamboos gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl;
and then went home leaving the children lying in the jungle. The
children lay there crying very pitifully. Now a herd of wild bison
was grazing in the jungle and they heard the crying and one of the
cows went to see what was the matter and took pity on the children and
suckled them. Every day she came three times and fed them; and under
her care the children grew up strong and healthy. If any man came
to hunt in the jungle the bison-cow used to attack him and drive him
away; she used to bring the bows and arrows which the hunters threw
away in their flight to the boy that he might learn how to shoot. And
when any basket makers passed by the jungle on their way to market to
sell their wares she used to charge out at them and then bring to the
girl the winnowing fans and baskets they threw down in their fright,
so that she might learn to sift rice.
Thus the children prospered; and the boy was named Harichand and he
and his sister looked like gods. When they grew up they married each
other and then the bison-cow left them. Then Thakur sent from heaven
sixteen hundred _gopinis_ and the _gopinis_ said that Harichand and
his wife should be king and queen in that land of Sikhar. Then they
took counsel together as to where the royal fort should be. Three
scribes sat down to study the books with Harichand and his wife in
their midst; on the right sat the scribe Hikim, and on the left the
scribe Bhuja and the scribe Jaganath opened the book to see where
the fort should be; and all the gopinis sat round in a circle and
sang while the book was read.
"Raja Harichand of the Sikhar stock, of Jhalamala,
Where is his abode!
Raja Harichand of the Sikhar stock, of Jhalamala,
In the bamboo clump is his abode!"
"Raja Harichand of the Sikhar stock of Jhalamala
In the banyan-tree field in his abode!
Raja Harichand, of the Sikhar stock, of Jhalamala,
In the brinjal corner is his abode."
And they found in the book that the fort should be in Pachet hill;
then they sang in triumph:--
"It will not do, O Raja, to build a fort here:
We will leave Paras and build a fort on Pachet hill:
There in the happy Brinda forest."
Then they brought the Raja and Rani from the jungle to Pachet and
on the top of the Pachet hill a stone fort sprang up for them; and
all the country of Sikhar acknowledged their sway. After that the
Santals made their way from Champa and dwelt in Sikhar and cleared all
the jungle in it and abode there many years. They called the Sikhar
Raja a _bonga_ because no one knew his father or mother. Under Raja
Harichand the Santals were very contented and happy, and when he
celebrated the Chatar festival they used to sing this song, because
they were so contented:--
"Harichand Raja was born of a bison-cow,
Sirguja Rana was born of a snake."
CLXIII. The Origin of Tobacco.
This is the way that the chewing tobacco began. There was once a
Brahmin girl whose relations did not give her in marriage and she
died unmarried. After the body had been burned and the people had
gone home, Chandu thought "Alas, I sent this woman into the world
and she found favour with no one; well, I will confer a gift on her
which will make men ask for her every day," So he sowed tobacco at
the burning place and it grew up and flourished. And there was a boy
of the cowherd caste who used to graze his cattle about that place;
he saw his goats greedily eating the tobacco leaf and he wondered
what the leaf was and tasted a bit but finding it bitter he spat it
out. Some time after however he had tooth-ache and having tried many
remedies in vain he bethought himself of the bitter tobacco and he
chewed some of that and kept it in his mouth and found that it cured
the tooth-ache; from that time he formed the habit of chewing it. One
day he saw some burnt bones or lime and he picked up the powder and
rubbed it between his fingers to see what it was and after doing so he
ate some tobacco and found that the taste was improved, so from that
time he always chewed lime with the tobacco. He recommended the leaf
to other men who had tooth-ache and they formed the habit of chewing
it too and called it tobacco; and then men who had no tooth-ache took
to it; and acquired a craving for it. This is the way tobacco chewing
began, as our forefathers say.
CLXIV. The Transmigration of Souls.
All the cats of Hindus have believed and believe, and the Santals also
have said and say, that Thakur made the land and sky and sea and man
and animals and insects and fish and the creation was complete and
final: he made their kinds and castes once for all and did not alter
them afterwards; and he fixed the time of growth and of dwelling in
the body; and for the flowers to seed and he made at that time as
many souls as was necessary and the same souls go on being incarnated
sometimes in a human body and sometimes in the body of an animal;
and so it is that many human beings really have the souls of animals;
if a man has a man's soul he is of a gentle disposition; but if he gets
the soul of a dog or cat then he is bad tempered and ready to quarrel
with everyone; and the man with a frog's soul is silent and sulky and
those who get tiger's souls when they start a quarrel never give up
till they gain their point. There is a story which proves all this.
There was once a Brahman who had two wives and as he knew something
of herbs and simples he used to leave his wives at home and go about
the country as a quack doctor; but whenever he came home his two wives
used to scold him and find fault with him for no reason at all till
they made his life a burden. So he resolved to leave two such shrews
and one day when they had been scolding as usual he put on the garb
of a _jogi_ and in spite of their protests went out into the world.
After journeying two or three days he came to a town in which a
pestilence was raging and he sat down to rest under a tree on the
outskirts. There he noticed that many corpses had been thrown out and
he saw two vultures fly down to feed on the bodies; and the he-vulture
said to his mate "Which corpse shall we eat first?" Now the Brahman
somehow understood the language of the birds--but the mate returned
no answer though the he-vulture kept on repeating the question; at
last she said "Don't you see there is a man sitting at the foot of
the tree?" Then they both approached the Brahman and asked why he was
sitting in such a place and whether he was in distress; he told them
that trouble had driven him from his home and that he was wandering
about the world as chance led him, because the continual quarrelling of
his two wives was more than he could bear. The vultures said "We will
give you a means by which you may see your wives as they really are"
and one of them pulled out a wing feather and told him when he went
to any house begging to stick it behind his ear and then he would
see what the people were really like; and they advised him to marry a
woman who gave him alms with her hands. Then he got up and went away
with the feather, leaving the birds to prey on the corpses.
When the Brahman came to a village to beg he saw by the aid of the
feather, that some of the people were really cats and some were dogs
and other animals and when they gave him alms they brought it in their
teeth; then he made up his mind to go home and see what his wives
really were; and he found that one was a bitch and one was a sow;
and when they brought him water they carried the cup in their months;
at this sight he left the house again in disgust, determined to marry
any woman who offered him alms with her hands.
He wandered for days till at last the daughter of a Chamar, when he
begged, brought him alms in her hands; and he at once determined to
stay there and marry her at all costs; so he sat down and when the
Chamar asked why he did not go away he said that he meant to marry the
girl who had given him alms and live in his house as his son-in-law;
the Chamar did all he could to remonstrate at such an extraordinary
proposal as that a Brahman should destroy his caste by marrying a
Chamar; the Brahman said that they might do what they liked to him
but that he would not leave till he obtained his bride. So at last
the Chamar called in his castefellows and relations to advise him
whether he would be guilty of any sin in yielding to the proposal of
the Brahman; and they called into council the principal villagers of
all the other castes and after fully questioning the Chamar and the
Brahman the judgment of the villagers was that the marriage should
take place and they would take the responsibility. Then the Brahman
was made to give a full account of himself and where he had come from,
and when this was found to be true, the bride price was fixed and
paid and the marriage took place and the Brahman became a Chamar.
CLXV. The Next World.
This is what the Santals say about the next world. After death men
have a very hard time of it in the next world. _Chando bonga_ makes
them work terribly hard; the woman have to pound the fruit of the
castor oil plant with a pestle; and from the seeds Chando bonga makes
human beings. All day long they have to work; those women who have
babies get a little respite on the excuse of suckling their babies;
but those who have no children get no rest at all; and the men are
allowed to break off to chew tobacco but those who have not learnt to
chew have to work without stopping from morning to night. And this is
the reason why Santals learn to chew tobacco when they are alive; for
it is of no use to merely smoke a _huka_: in the next world we shall
not be allowed to knock off work in order to smoke. In the next world
also it is very difficult to get water to drink. There are frogs who
stand on guard and drive away any who comes to the water to drink;
and so when Satals die we send drinking vessels with them so that
they may be able to run quickly to the water and fill the vessels
and get away before they are stopped. And it is said that if a man
during his lifetime has planted a peepul tree he gets abused for it
in the next world and is told to go and pick the leaves out of the
water which have fallen into it and are spoiling it and such a man is
able to get water to drink while he is picking the leaves out of it;
but whether this is all true I cannot say.
CLXVI. After Death.
When grown-up people die they become ancestral _bongas_ and sacrifices
are offered to them at the Flower and Sohrai festivals; and when
children die they become _bhuts_. When a pregnant woman dies, they
drive long thorns into the soles of the feet before the body is
burned for such women become _churins_. The reason of this is that
when the _churin_ pursues any one the thorns may hurt her and prevent
her from running fast: and so the man who is pursued may escape; for
if the _churin_ catches him she will lick all the flesh off his bones;
they especially attack the belly and their tongues are very rough.
There was once a man who had been to get his ploughshare sharpened by
the blacksmith and as he was on his way home it came on to rain, so he
took shelter in a hollow tree. While he was waiting for the weather
to clear he saw a _churin_ coming along singing and she also came to
take shelter in the same tree. Fortunately she pushed in backwards
and the man took the ploughshare which was still nearly red hot and
pressed it against her back; so she ran away screaming and he made
good his escape in the other direction; otherwise he would assuredly
have been licked to death.
CLXVII. Hares and Men.
In former days hares used to eat men and a man presented himself before
Thakur and said "O Father, these hares do us much damage; they are
little animals and hide under leaves and then spring out and eat us;
big animals we can see coming and can save ourselves. Have pity on
us and deliver us from these little animals," So Thakur summoned the
chief of the hares and fixed a day for hearing the case; and when the
man and the hare appeared he asked the hare whether they ate men and
the hare denied it and asserted on the contrary that men ate hares; but
the man when questioned denied that men killed hares. Then Thakur said
"O hare and man, I have questioned you both and you give contradictory
answers; and neither admits the charge; the matter shall be decided in
this way; you, hare, shall watch a _Kita_ tree and if within a year you
see a leaf fall from the tree you shall be allowed to eat men; and you,
man, shall watch a _Korkot_ tree and if you see a leaf fall, then men
shall be allowed to eat hares. Begin your watch to-day and this day
next year bring me your leaves." So the man and the hare departed and
each sat under a tree to see a leaf fall but they watched and watched
in vain until on the last day of the year a _korkot_ leaf fell and
the man joyfully picked it up and took it to Thakur; and the hare
failing to see a leaf fall bit off a leaf with its teeth and took it
to Thakur. Then Thakur examined the two leaves and said to the hare,
"This leaf did not fall of itself; see, the tip of the stalk is quite
different from the stalk of the leaf this man has brought; you bit
it off." And the hare was silent Then Thakur rubbed the legs of the
hare with a ball of cleaned cotton and passed this sentence on him,
that thenceforward he should skip about like a leaf blown by the wind
and that men should hunt hares wherever they found them and kill and
eat them, entrails and all.
And this is the reason why Santals do not clean the hares they kill,
but eat them entrails and all.
CLXVIII. A Legend.
Once upon a time a woman was found to be with child by her own brother,
so the two had to fly the country. In their flight they came to the
Mustard Tank and Flower Lake, on the banks of which they prepared
to cook their food. They boiled water and cooked rice in it; and
then they boiled water to cook pulse to eat with the rice. But when
the water was ready they found that they had forgotten to bring any
pulse. While they were wondering what they could get to eat with their
rice they saw a man of the fisher caste (Keot) coming along with his
net on his shoulder. Then the woman sang--
"The son of a Keot is standing on the bank of the tank:
The fish are jumping: the son of a Keot is catching the fish."
So the Keot caught them some fish, which they ate with their rice.
Then they went on and by the side of the road they saw a date palm
the juice of which had been tapped; and they wished to drink the juice
but they found that they had brought no drinking vessel with them. The
woman looked about and saw near by a fan palm tree and she sang--
"The peepul's leaves go flicker, flicker:
The banyan's leaves are thick and fleshy:
Of the fan palm's leaf, brother, make a cup.
And we will drink the juice of the date palm."
So her brother made a drinking vessel of a palm leaf and they drank
the date juice and went on their way. At nightfall they rested at
the foot of a Bael tree and fell into a drunken sleep from the date
juice they had drunk.
As the woman lay senseless her child was born to her and no sooner
was the child born than a bael fruit fell on to its head and split it
into four pieces which flew apart and became four hills. From falling
on the new-born child the bael fruit has ever since had a sticky
juice and the tree is covered with thorns which are the hair of the
child. In the morning the man and woman went on and came to a forest
of _Tarop_ trees and the woman wiped her bloody hands on the _Tarop_
trees and so the _Tarop_ tree ever since exudes a red juice like blood.
Next morning they went on and came to a spring and drank of its water
and afterwards the woman bathed in it and the blood stained water
flowed over all the country and so we see stagnant water covered
with a red scum. Going on from there they reached a low lying flat
and halted; almost at once they saw a thunder storm coming up from
the South and West; and the woman sang--
"A storm as black as the _so_ fruit, brother,
Is coming, full of danger for us:
Come let us flee to the homestead of the liquor seller."
But the brother answered--
"The liquor seller's house is an evil house:
You only wish to go there for mischief."
So they stayed where they were and the lightning came and slew
CLXIX. Pregnant Women.
Pregnant women are not allowed to go about alone outside the village;
for there are _bongas_ everywhere and some of them dislike the sight of
pregnant women and kill them or cause the child to be born wry-necked.
A pregnant woman may not make a mud fireplace for if she does her child
will be born with a hare-lip; nor may she chop vegetables during an
eclipse or the same result will follow. She may not ride in a cart,
for if she does the child will be always crying and will snore in its
sleep; if she eats the flesh of field rats the child's body will be
covered with hair and if she eats duck or goose flesh the child will
be born with its fingers and toes webbed. Nor may a pregnant woman
look on a funeral, for if she does her child will always sleep with
its eyes half open.
CLXX. The Influence of the Moon.
If a child is born on the day before the new moon the following
ceremony is observed. After bathing the child they place an old broom
in the mother's arms instead of the child; then the mother takes
the child and throws it out on the dung heap behind the house. The
midwife then takes an old broom and an old winnowing fan and sweeps
up a little rubbish on to the fan and takes it and throws it on the
dung hill; there she sees the child and calls out. "Here is a child
on the dung heap" then she pretends to sweep the child with the broom
into the winnowing fan and lifts it up and carries it into the house;
and asks the people of the house whether they will rear it. They ask
what wages she will give them and she promises to give them a heifer
when the child is grown up.
If this is not done the child will be unlucky when it grows up; if
it is a boy, however often he may marry, his wife will die and so,
if it is a girl, her husbands will die.
Another fact is that they always shave a child's head for the first
two times during the same moon; if it is shaved first during one moon
and then during the following moon; it will always have a headache
once a month.
Similarly when they tie the knots in a string to fix the date of a
wedding the wedding must take place in the lunar month in which the
knots are tied or else the children born of the marriage will die.
CLXXI. Illegitimate Children.
If a woman has an illegitimate child and from fear or shame will not
name its father the bastard is called a child of Chando. At its birth
there is no assembly of the neighbours; its head is not ceremonially
shaved and there is no _narta_ ceremony. The midwife does what is
necessary; and the child is admitted into no division of the tribe. If
it is a boy it is called Chandu or Chandrai or sometimes Birbanta and
if a girl Chandro or Chandmuni or perhaps Bonela. Sometimes after the
child is born the mother will under seal of secrecy tell its father's
name to her mother or the midwife; and then between themselves they
will call the child by a name taken from the father's family but
they will never tell it to anyone else. When the child grows up he
is given some nickname and if he turns out well and is popular his
name is often changed again and he is recognised as a Santal.
Often if a father will not acknowledge a child the mother will strangle
it at birth and bury the body. Men who practise sorcery dig up the
bones of such murdered infants and use them as rattles when doing
their sorceries and are helped by them to deceive people.
CLXXII. The Dead.
Santals are very much afraid of burial grounds; for dead men become
_bongas_ and _bongas_ eat men. If a man meet such a _bonga_ in a
burial ground it is of little use to fight for the _bonga_ keeps on
changing his shape. He may first appear as a man and then change into
a leopard or a bear or a pig or a cat: very few escape when attacked
by such a being.
It is said that the spirits of young children become _bhuts_ and those
of grown-up people _bongas_ and those of pregnant women _churins_.
CLXXIII. Hunting Custom.
Formerly when the men went to a hunt the mistress of the house would
not bathe all the time they were away and when the hunters returned
she met them at the front door and washed their feet and welcomed
them home. The wife of the _dehri_ used to put a dish of water under
her bed at night and if the water turned red like blood they believed
that it was a sign that game had been killed.
The belief in witchcraft is very real to the present day among the
Santals. All untimely deaths and illness which does not yield to
treatment are attributed to the machinations of witches, and women
are not unfrequently murdered in revenge for deaths which they are
supposed to have caused, or to prevent the continuance of illness
for which they are believed to be responsible.
The Santal writer in spite of his education is a firm believer in
witchcraft, and details his own experiences. He has justification for
his belief, for as was the case in Mediaeval Europe, women sometimes
plead guilty to having caused death by witchcraft when there appears
to be no adequate motive for a confession, which must involve them
in the severest penalties.
Mr. Bodding is aware that Santal women do actually hold meetings at
night at which mantras and songs are repeated, and at which they may
believe they acquire uncanny powers; the exercise of such powers may
also on occasion be assisted by the knowledge of vegetable poisons.
The witch may either herself cause death by 'eating,' or eating the
liver of, her victim, or may cause her familiar "bonga" to attack
the unfortunate. That witches eat the liver is an old idea in India
mentioned by the Mughal historians.
The Jan guru is employed to detect who is the woman responsible for
any particular misfortune. His usual method is to gaze on a leaf
smeared with oil, in which as in a crystal he can doubtless imagine
that shapes present themselves. The witch having been detected, she is
liable to be beaten and maltreated until she withdraws her spells, and
if this does not lead to the desired result she may be put to death.
The higher castes do not believe in witchcraft. If a man is ill they
give him medicines and if he dies in spite of the medicine they do
nothing further. But all the lower castes believe in witchcraft and
know that it is a reality. The Santal women learnt the craft first
from Marang Burn by playing a trick on him when he meant to teach
their husbands. And now they take quite little girls out by night
and teach them so that the craft may not die out.
We know of many cases to prove that witchcraft is a reality. Pirthi
who lives in Pankha's house was once ill: and it was an aunt of his who
was "eating" him. One night as he lay ill the witch came and bent over
him to take out his liver: but he woke up just in time and saw her and
catching her by the hair he shouted for the people in the house. They
and the villagers came and took the woman into custody. When the
Pargana questioned her she confessed everything and was punished.
Another time a boy lay ill and senseless. A cowherd who was driving
cattle home at evening ran to the back of the house where the sick boy
lay, after a cow which strayed there. There he found a woman in a state
of possession (rum) he told the villagers what he had seen and they
caught the woman and gave her a severe beating: whereupon the sick
boy recovered. But about two months afterwards the cowherd suddenly
fell down dead: and when they consulted a _jan_ as to the reason he
said that it was the witch who had been beaten who had done it.
CLXXV. Of Dains and Ojhas.
Once upon a time Marang Buru decided that he would teach men
witchcraft. In those days there was a place at which men used to
assemble to meet Marang Buru and hold council with him: but they only
heard his voice and never saw his face. One day at the assembly when
they had begun to tell Marang Buru of their troubles he fixed a day
and told them to come to him on it, dressed all in their cleanest
clothes and he would teach them witchcraft.
So the men all went home and told their wives to wash their clothes
well against the fixed day, as they were going to Thakur to learn
witchcraft. The women of course all began to discuss this new plan
among themselves and the more they talked of it the less they liked it;
it seemed to them that if the men were to get this new strange power
it would make them more inclined to despise and bully women than ever;
so they made a plot to get the better of their husbands. They arranged
that each woman should brew some rice beer and offer it to her husband
as he was starting to meet Marang Buru and beg him to drink some lest
his return should be delayed. They foresaw that the men would not be
able to resist the drink; and that having started they would go on till
they were dead drunk: it would then be easy for the women to dress
themselves like men and go off to Marang Buru and learn witchcraft
in place of their husbands. So said, so done;--the women duly made
their husbands drunk and then put on _pagris_ and _dhoties_ and stuck
goats' beards on their faces and went off to Marang Buru to learn
witchcraft. Marang Buru did not detect the imposition and according
to his promise taught them all the incantations of witchcraft.
After the women had come home with their new knowledge their
husbands gradually recovered their senses and bethought them of their
appointment with Marang Buru. So they hurried off to the meeting place
and asked him to teach them what he had promised. "Why, I taught it
all to you this morning," answered Marang Buru, "what do you mean by
coming to me again?" The men could not understand what he meant and
protested that they had not been to him at all in the morning. "Then
you must have told your wives what I was going to do!" This they could
not deny: "I see," said Marang Buru "then they must have played a trick
on you and learnt the _mantras_ in your place," At this the men began
to lament and begged that they might be taught also: but Marang Buru
said that this was impossible; he could only teach them a very little;
their wives had reaped the crop and they could only have the gleanings;
so saying, he taught them the art of the _ojha_ and in order that
they might have the advantage of their wives in one respect and be
able to overawe them he also taught them the craft of the _jan_ and
with that they had to be content. This is why only women are witches.
CLXXVI. Initiation into Witchcraft.
When girls are initiated into witchcraft they are taken away by
force and made to lead tigers about. This makes them fearless. They
are then taken to all the most powerful _bongas_ in succession; and
are taught to invoke them, as school boys are taught lessons, and to
become possessed _(rum)_. They are also taught _mantras_ and songs and
by degrees they cease to be afraid. The novice is made to come out of
the house with a lamp in her hand and a broom tied round her waist;
she is then conducted to the great _bongas_ one of whom approves of her
and when all have agreed she is married to that _bonga_. The _bonga_
pays the usual brideprice and applies _sindur_ to her forehead. After
this she can also marry a man in the usual way and he also pays the
bride price. When a girl has learnt everything she is made to take
her degree (_sid atang_) by taking out a man's liver and cooking it
with rice in a new pot; then she and the young woman who is initiating
her, eat the feast together; a woman who has once eaten such a stew
is completely proficient and can never forget what she has learnt.
This is the way in which girls learn witchcraft; and if any girl
refuses to take the final step and will not eat men she is caused to
go mad or die. Those however who have once eaten men have a craving
Generally it is only women who are witches; but there are men who have
learnt witchcraft and there are others who without being initiated
have kept company with witches. For instance in Simra village there
is Chortha who was once a servant of the Parganna. He says that the
Parganna's wife used to take him out with her at night. The women used
to sacrifice fowls and goats and make him skin them and cut them up:
he had then to roast cakes of the flesh and give them to the Parganna's
wife who distributed them among the other women.
Sometimes also witches take a man with them to their meetings to beat
the drum: and sometimes if a man is very much in love with a girl he
is allowed to go with them and is taught witchcraft. For instance
there was a man who had a family of daughters and no son and so he
engaged a man servant by the year to work for him.
After being some years in service this man servant one night was for
some reason unusually late in letting the buffaloes out to graze,
and while doing so he saw all the women of the household assembled
out of doors; they came up to him and told him not to be afraid
and promised to do him no harm provided he told no one what he had
seen. Two or three days later the young women of the house invited
him to go to a witches' meeting. He went but felt rather frightened
the whole time; however nothing happened to him, so he got over his
fear and after that he used to go with them quite willingly and learnt
all about witchcraft. At last they told him that he must _sid atang_
by "eating" a human being. He objected that he was an orphan and so
there was no relation whom he could eat. This was a difficulty that
seemed insurmountable; and he suggested that he should be excused the
full course and taught only a little such as how to "eat" fowls. The
women agreed but it was arranged that to deceive people he should go
for two or three days and study with a _jan guru_ and be initiated by
him. Thus it would be thought that he learnt his magic from the _guru_
but really he learnt it from the witches who taught him everything
except how to "eat" human beings. He learnt how to make trees wither
away and come to life again; and to make rain fall where he wished
while any place he chose remained quite dry; he learnt to walk upon
the surface of water without getting wet; he could exorcise hail so
that none would touch his house though it fell all around. For a joke
he could make stools stick fast to his friends when they sat on them;
and anyone he scolded found himself unable to speak properly. All
this we have seen him do; but it was no one's business to question
him to find out how much he really knew.
Once at the shield and sword dance they cast a spell on a youth till
his clothes fell off him in shreds and he was ashamed to dance. Then
this servant had the pieces of cloth brought to him; and he covered
them with his own cloth and mumbled some _mantras_ and blew on it and
the pieces joined together and the cloth was as good as ever. This
we have seen ourselves.
He lived a long time with his master who found him a wife; but because
his first child died he left the place and went to live near Amrahat
where he is now.
Another case is Tipu of Mohulpahari. They say that an old witch Dukkia
taught him to be an _ojha_. No one has dared to ask him whether he
also learnt witchcraft from her but he himself admits that she taught
him to be an _ojha_.
Although it is true that there are witches and that they "eat" men
you will never see them except when you are alone.
The son-in-law of Surai of Karmatane village, named Khade, died from
meeting witches; he told us all about it as he lay dying. He was
coming home with some other men: they had all had a little too much
to drink and so they got separated. Khade was coming along alone and
had nearly reached his house when he saw a crowd of witches under a
tree. He went up and asked who they were. Thereupon they turned on
him and seized him and dragged him away towards Maluncha. There they
did something to him and let him go. Next morning he was seized with
purging and by mistake some of the witches' vengeance fell also on
the other men and they were taken ill too. They however recovered,
but Khade died. If you meet witches you die, but not of course if
they take you with them of their own will and teach you their craft.
Girls are taught witchcraft when they are young and are married to a
_bonga_ husband. Afterwards when they marry a man they still go away
and visit the _bonga_ and when they do so they send in their place a
_bonga_ woman exactly like them in appearance and voice; so that the
husband cannot tell that it is not his real wife. There is however a
way of discovering the substitution; for if the man takes a brand from
the fire and burns the woman with it, then if it is really a _bonga_
and not his wife she will fly away in a flame of fire.
CLXXVIII. Witch Stories.
I will now tell you something I have seen with my own eyes. In the
village of Dhubia next to mine the only son of the Paranik lay ill
for a whole year. One day I went out to look at my _rahar_ crop
which was nearly ripe and as I stood under a mowah tree I heard a
voice whispering. I stooped down to try and see through the _rahar_
who was there but the crop was so thick that I could see nothing;
so I climbed up the mowah tree to look. Glancing towards Dhubia
village I saw the third daughter of the Paranik come out of her house
and walk towards me. When about fifty yards from me she climbed a
big rock and waited. Presently an old aunt of hers came out of the
village and joined her. Then the old woman went back to her house and
returned with a lota of water. Meanwhile the girl had come down from
the rock and sat at its foot near a thicket of _dhela_ trees. The old
woman caused the girl to become possessed (_rum_) and they had some
conversation which I could not hear, Then they poured out the water
from the lota and went home.
On my way home I met a young fellow of the village and found that
he had also seen what the two women did. We went together to the
place and found the mark of the water spilled on the ground and two
leaves which had been used as wrappers and one of which was smeared
with vermilion and _adwa_ rice had been scattered about. We decided
to tell no one till we saw whether what had been done was meant to
benefit or injure the sick boy. Fifteen days later the boy died:
and when his parents consulted a _jan_ he named a young woman of the
village as the cause of the boy's death and she was taken and punished
severely by the villagers.
It is plain that the boy's sister and aunt in order to save themselves
caused the _jan_ to see an innocent woman. I could not bring the boy
back to life so it was useless for me to say anything, especially as
the guilty women were of the Paranik's own family. This I saw myself
in broad daylight.
Another thing that happened to me was this. I had been with the
Headman to pay in the village rent. It was night when we returned
and after leaving him I was going home alone. As I passed in front
of a house a bright light suddenly shone from the cowshed; I looked
round and saw a great crowd of women-witches standing there. I ran
away by the garden at the back of the house until I reached a high
road; then I stopped and looked round and saw that the witches were
coming after me; and looking towards the hamlet where my house was I
saw that witches were coming with a bright light from that direction
also. When I found myself thus hemmed in I felt that my last hour
had come but I ran on till I came to some jungle.
Looking back from there I saw that the two bands had joined together
and were coming after me. I did not feel safe there for I knew that
there were _bongas_ in the jungle who might tell the witches where
I was. So I ran on to the _tola_ where an uncle and aunt of mine
lived. As I ran down the street I saw two witches at the back of
one of the houses. They were sitting down; one was in a state of
possession _(rum)_ and the other was opposite her holding a lamp. So
I left the street and made my way through the fields till I Came to
my uncle's house. I knocked and was admitted panting and breathless;
my uncle and aunt went outside to see what it was that had scared me
and they saw the witches with the two lights flashing and made haste
to bolt the door. None of us slept for the rest of the night and in
the morning I told them all that had happened.
Since that night I have been very frightened of witches and do not like
to go out at night. It was lucky that the witches did not recognise
me; otherwise I should not have lived. Ever since I have never stayed
at home for long together; I go there for two or three months at a
time and then go away and work elsewhere. I am too frightened to stay
in my own village. Now all the old women who taught witchcraft are
dead except one: when she goes I shall not be frightened any more. I
shall be able to go home when I like. I have never told any one but
my uncle and aunt what I saw until now that I have written it down.
So from my own experience I have no doubt about the existence of
witches; I cannot say how they "eat" men, whether by magic or whether
they order _"bongas"_ to cause a certain man to die on a certain
day. Some people say that when a witch is first initiated she is
married to a _bonga_ and if she wants to "eat" a man she orders her
_bonga_ husband to kill him and if he refuses she heaps abuse on him
until he does.
CLXXIX. Witch Stories.
Young girls are taught witchcraft against their wills and if they
refuse to "eat" their father or brother they die or go mad. There
was a girl in my own village and she went out gathering herbs with
another girl who was a witch. As usual they sang at their work and the
witch girl sang songs the tune of which the other thought so pretty
that she learnt them by heart. When she had learnt them the witch
girl told her that they were witch songs and explained to her their
meaning. The girl was very angry at having been taught them unawares
but the witch girl assured her that she would never be able to forget
the songs or their interpretation; then she assigned her to a _bonga_
bridegroom and then told her to _sid atang_ and all would be well
with her otherwise she would have trouble.
When the girl learnt that she must _sid atang_ by "eating" her father
or brother or mother she began to make excuses; she could not kill
her father for he was the support of the family; nor her only brother
for he was wanted too at the _Baha_ and _Sohrai_ nor her mother who
had reared her in childhood. The witch girl said that if she refused
she would die; and she said that she would rather die than do what
was required of her. Then the witch did something and the girl began
to rave and talk gibberish and from that time was quite out of her
senses. _Ojhas_ tried to cure her in vain until at last one suggested
that she should be taken to another village as the madness must be
the work of witches living in her own village. So they took her away
and the remedies then cured her. She stayed in her new home and was
married there. A long time afterwards she went back to pay a visit to
her father's house: but the day after she arrived her head began to
ache and she fell ill and though her husband came and took her away
she died the day after she reached her home.
There was another girl; her friends noticed that when she came home
with them in the evening after planting rice she was very careful
not to fall behind or be left alone and they used to laugh at her for
being a coward. But one day she was gathering Indian corn with a friend
and as they talked she said "You will all have lovely dancing at the
Sohrai." "You!" said her friend: "won't you be there? Are you going
away?" Then the girl began to cry and sobbed out that her mother had
taught her witchcraft and married her to a _bonga_; and it was for
fear of the _bonga_ that she did not like to be alone in the dark;
and because she had refused to "eat" anyone her mother intended to
"eat" her and so she had no hope of living to see the Sohrai. Three
days later the girl fell ill and died, and after her death her friend
told how she had foreseen it.
CLXXX. Witch Stories.
In the village of Mohulpahari there was a youth named Jerba. He was
servant to Bepin Teli of Tempa and often had to come home in the dark
after his day's work. One night he was coming back very late and,
before he saw where he was, suddenly came upon a crowd of witches
standing under a hollow mowah tree at the foot of the field that
the dhobie has taken. Just as he caught sight of them they seized
hold of him and flung him down and did something which he could not
remember--for he lost his senses when they threw him down. When he
came to himself he managed to struggle free and run off. The witches
pursued but failed to overtake him and he reached his home in a state
of terror. The witches however had not finished with him for two or
three days after they caused him to fall from a tree and break his
arm. Ojhas were called in but their medicines did him no good. The
arm mortified and maggots formed and in a few days Jerba himself told
them that he would not recover; he told them how the witches chased
him and that he had recognised them as women of his own village and
shortly afterwards he became speechless and died.
My own brother-in-law lived at Mubundi. One night he and several other
men were sitting up on the threshing-floor watching their rice. In
the middle of the night they saw lights shining and flickering in
the courtyard of my brother-in-law's house and he went to see what
was the matter. When he got near, the lights went into the house:
he went up quietly and as he looked in found the house full of women
who extinguished the light directly they saw him and rushed out of
the house. Then he asked my sister what the light was; but she could
only stammer out "What light? I saw no light," so he struck her a blow
and went back to the threshing-floor and told the others what he had
seen. That night he would not tell them the names of the women he had
seen; and before morning his right arm swelled and became very painful;
the swelling quickly increased and by noon he lost consciousness and
a few hours later he died.
CLXXXI. The Two Witches.
There were once a woman and her daughter-in-law who were both
witches. One night during the annual Sohrai festival the men of the
village were going from house to house singing and getting rice beer
to drink; and one young man named Chandrai got so drunk that when they
came to the house where the two witch-women lived he rolled himself
under the shelf on which rice was stored and fell asleep. Next morning
he came to his senses but he did not like to come out and show himself
for fear of ridicule so he made up his mind to wait till a party came
round singing again and then to slip out with them unperceived.
He lay waiting and presently all the men of the house went away to
join in the _danka_ dance; leaving the mistress of the house and
her daughter-in-law alone. Presently, the two began to talk and the
elder woman said "Well what with the pigs and the goats that have been
sacrificed during this Sohrai we have had plenty of meat to eat lately
and yet I don't feel as if I had had any." "That is so," answered her
daughter-in-law; "fowls' and pig's flesh is very unsatisfying." "Then
what are we to do?" rejoined the old woman, "I don't know unless you
do for the father of your grandchild." When he heard this Chandrai
shivered with fright and hid himself further under the rice shelf,
for he saw that the two women must be witches.
That day was the day on which a bullock is tied to a post outside each
house and at noon the husband of the younger witch began to dig a hole
outside the house to receive the post. While he was working Chandrai
heard the two women begin to talk again. "Now is your opportunity,"
said the younger woman, "while he is digging the hole." "But perhaps
the _ojha_ will be able to discover us," objected the other. "Oh
we can prevent that by making the _ojha_ see in the oiled leaf the
faces of Rupi and Bindi--naming two girls of the village--and we can
say that my husband had seduced them and then declined to marry them
and that that was why they killed him." The old woman seemed to be
satisfied, for she took up a hatchet and went out to where her son
was digging the hole. She waited till he bent down to throw out the
earth with his hands and then cut open his back and pulled out his
liver and heart and brought them into the house. Her unfortunate son
felt a spasm of pain when his mother struck him but he did not know
what had hurt him and there was no visible wound. The two women then
chopped up the liver and heart and cooked and ate them.
That night when the village youths came round to the house, singing,
Chandrai slipped out with them unperceived and hastened home. Two or
three days later the bewitched man became seriously ill; medicines
and sacrifices did him no good; the _ojhas_ were called in but could
make nothing of the illness. The villagers were very angry with them
for the failure and the headman told them that they must ascertain
by means of the oiled leaf who had caused the illness, or it would
be the worse for them. So the _ojhas_ went through their ceremonies
and after a time declared that the oiled leaf showed the faces of
the two girls Rupi and Bindi; and that it was they who were eating
up the sick man. So the two girls were sent for and questioned but
they solemnly swore that they knew nothing about the matter. No one
believed their protestations and the headman ordered that filth should
be put into their mouths and that they should be well beaten to make
them confess. However before any harm was done them Chandrai sprang
up and called out to the headman: "You have proof that these girls
are witches, but I will not let you beat them here. Let us take them
to yonder open field; the token of their oath is there and we will
make them first remove it. If we beat them first they will probably
refuse to remove the oath." "How do you know about their oath?" asked
the headman. "Never mind, I do know." The villagers were convinced by
his confident manner and all went with the two girls to the open field.
Chandrai's object was to get away from the witches' house for he was
afraid to speak there; but when they were out in the open he stood up
and told the villagers all that he had seen and heard the two witches
do; they remembered that he had been missing for a whole day during
the Sohrai festival and believed him. So the sick man's wife and
mother were fetched and well beaten to make them restore the sick
man to health; but his liver and heart had been eaten so that the
case was hopeless and in a few days he was dead. His relations in
revenge soon killed the two witches.
Rupi and Bindi whose lives had been saved by Chandrai went and
established themselves in his house, for they declared that as they
owed their lives to him it was plain that he must marry them.
CLXXXII. The Sister-in-Law Who Was a Witch.
There were once two brothers who lived together; the elder was married
but the younger had no wife. The elder brother used to cultivate
their lands and his wife used to draw water and fetch fuel and the
younger brother used to take the cattle out to graze. One year when
the elder brother was busy in the fields the younger one used to take
his cattle to graze near where his brother was working and the wife
used to bring out the breakfast for both of them. One day the younger
brother thought he would play a trick on his sister-in-law by not
answering when she called him to his breakfast; so when her husband
had finished his meal and she called out for the younger brother to
come he gave no answer; she concluded that the cattle were straying
and would not let him come so she took up her basket and went to
look for him; but when he saw her coming he climbed up a tree and
hid himself and for all her calling gave no answer, but only sat and
laughed at her although she came quite close to where he was.
At last the woman got into a passion and putting down the breakfast
by the side of a pool which was close to the tree up which her
brother-in-law had climbed she stripped off her clothes and began
bowing down and calling. "Ho, Dharmal Chandi! come forth !" When he
saw this the man was amazed and waited to see whom she was calling,
meaning to let her know he was there directly she turned to go away
home with the breakfast. But the woman kept on calling to Dharmal
Chandi and at last out of the pool appeared an immense bearded _bonga_
with long and matted hair. When the woman saw him her tongue flickered
in and out like a snake's and she made a hissing noise, such as a crab
makes. Then the woman began "Dharmal Chandi I have a request which
you must promise to grant." And when the _bonga_ had promised she
proceeded. "You must have my brother-in-law killed by a tiger the day
after to-morrow; he has put me to endless trouble making me go shouting
after him all through the jungle; I wanted to go back quickly because
I have a lot of work at home; he has wasted my time by not answering;
so the day after to-morrow you must have him killed." The _bonga_
promised to do what she asked and disappeared into the pool and the
woman went home.
While the younger brother was up in the tree his cattle had got into a
_gundli_ field and eaten up the crop: and the owner found it out and
got the brothers fined. So that evening the elder brother asked him
where he had been that he had not looked after the cattle properly
nor eaten any breakfast. In answer the younger brother only began to
cry; at that his sister-in-law said. "Let him alone; he is crying for
want of a wife; he is going silly because we have not married him;"
and so nothing more was said. But the elder brother was not satisfied
and the next day when they went together to work he asked the younger
what was the real reason for his crying.
Then the younger answered. "Brother, I am in great trouble; it makes
me cry all day; if you wish ever to look on my face again, you must
not work in the fields to-morrow but keep me company while I tend
the cattle; if we are separated for a moment a tiger will kill me;
it will be quickly over for me but you I know will miss me much and
so I am grieving for you; if you have any tenderness for me do not
leave me to-morrow but save me from the tiger." His brother asked the
reason for this foreboding but the younger man said that he would
explain nothing and accuse no one until the events of the next day
had shown whether he was speaking the truth; if a tiger really came
to stalk him then that would be proof that he had had good reason
for his apprehension; and he begged his brother not to speak a word
about it to anyone and especially not to his wife.
The elder brother promised to keep the matter a secret and cheered his
brother up and told him to be of good heart; they would take their bows
and axes and he would like to see the tiger that would touch them. So
the next morning the two brothers went off together well armed and
tended the cattle in company; nothing happened and at midday they
brought the cattle home; when the woman saw them with bows in their
hands she asked where they had been. Her husband told her that he had
been to look for a hare which he had seen on the previous day but he
had not been able to find it. Then his brother said that he had seen
a hare in its form that very morning but had not had time to shoot
it. So they pretended to arrange to go and hunt this hare and after
having eaten their rice they drove out the cattle again.
As they went along they kept close together with their arrows on the
string, so that the tiger which came to stalk the younger brother got
no opportunity to attack; at last it showed itself at the edge of the
jungle; the cattle were thrown into a turmoil and the brothers saw
that it was really following them; and the elder brother was convinced
that there was some reason for his brother's fears. So they turned
the cattle back and cautiously drove them home, keeping a good look
out all the way; the tiger prowled round them hiding in the bushes,
sometimes in front and sometimes behind, but found no opening to
attack while they for their part did not dare to shoot at it. The
tiger followed them right up to the house; but the elder brother did
not leave the other for a moment nor let him go outside the door and
at night he slept on the same bed with him.
The next morning he begged his brother to tell him all that had
happened and explain how he knew that a tiger would seek his
life on the previous day. "Come then" said the other, "to yonder
open ground. I cannot tell you in the house;" so they went out
together and then the younger told all that had happened and how his
sister-in-law had ordered the _Bonga_ to have him killed by a tiger;
"I did not tell you before till my story had been put to the proof
for fear that you would not believe me and would tell your wife; but
now you know all. I cannot live with you any longer; from this very
day I must go and find a home elsewhere." "Not so" said the other,
"I will not keep such a woman with me any longer; she is dangerous;
I will go home now and put her to death," and so saying he went home
and killed his wife with an axe.
CLXXXIII. Ramjit Bonga.
Once upon a time a man went out to snare quail: he set his snares
by the side of a mountain stream and then sat down under a bush to
watch them. As he waited he saw a young woman come along with her
water pot under her arm to draw water from the stream. When she got
to the _ghat_ she put down her pot and made her way up the stream
towards where the snares had been set; she did not notice the hunter
but went to the stump of an ebony tree near him and looking round
and seeing no one she suddenly became possessed and started dancing
round the ebony tree and singing some song which he could not clearly
catch; and as she danced she called out "The Pig's fat is overflowing:
brother-in-law Ramjit come here to me." When she called out like this
the quail catcher quietly crept nearer still to her. Although the
woman repeatedly summoned him in this way the Bonga would not come
out because he was aware of the presence of the onlooker; the woman
however got into a passion at his non-appearance and stripping off her
clothes she danced naked round the tree calling out "The Pig's fat
is overflowing: brother-in-law Ramjit come hither at once." At last
out of the _nala_ appeared the bonga, dark, enormous and shaggy; and
approached the woman: Then the woman said "Brother-in-law Ramjit there
is something that you must do for me; my nephew is ill; he must die
on such and such a day; that day I must see the smoke of his funeral
pyre; but you must save me from the witch-finder; let the blame fall
not on me but on so and so; this is what I came to urge on you; that
you protect me from discovery and then we shall always be friends."
The Bonga at first knowing that they were being watched would not make
the promise but when the woman insisted he promised in a low voice
and then disappeared into the _nala_; and the witch went back to the
ghat, filled her water pot and went home. The quail catcher also went
trembling home and he remembered the day fixed for the death of the
nephew of the witch and he decided to wait and see what happened before
saying anything to the villagers. Sure enough on the day before that
fixed by the witch the invalid became unconscious and was obviously
at the point of death. When he heard this the quail catcher went to
the sick man's bedside and seeing his condition told his relatives to
collect all the villagers to beat the woman whom he had seen with the
Bonga and he told them all that had passed; the villagers believed
him and summoning all the women of the village they scolded them;
and then being excited by this they rose up and began to beat the
women; to each they gave one blow with a stick, but the woman whom
the quail catcher pointed out they beat till she fainted.
Then they ordered her to cure the sick man and threatened to burn her
along with him if he died, but she insisted that she was innocent. Then
they told her that they knew all that had passed between her and
the Bonga Ramjit, she persisted that it was all a mistake. So they
started to beat her again; they beat her from her heels to her neck
and then from her neck down to her heels till the blood flowed and
they swore that they would not let her go unless she cured the sick
man and that if he died they would cut her to pieces. At last the
torture made her confess that it was she who was eating the sick man;
and she promised to cure him; so they first made her tell the names
of all the other witches in the village and then tied her to a post
and kept her there, and did not untie her till in four or five days
the sick man recovered. When she was let loose the quail catcher ran
away from the village and would not live there any more.
But the villagers threatened the witch woman that if her nephew or any
of his family got ill again they would kill her; and they told her that
as her secret had been found out she was henceforth to be their _ojha_
and cure their diseases; and they would supply her with whatever she
wanted for the purpose; they asked what sacrifice her nephew must make
on his recovery; and she told them to get a red cock, a grasshopper:
a lizard; a cat and a black and white goat; so they brought her these
and she sacrificed them and the villagers had a feast of rice and
rice beer and went to their homes and the matter ended.
CLXXXIV. The Herd Boy and the Witches.
Once upon a time a cowherd lost a calf and while looking for it he
was benighted in the jungle; for he was afraid to go home lest he
should be scolded for losing the calf. He had with him his bow and
arrows and flute and a stick but still he was afraid to stay the
night in the jungle; so he made up his mind to go to the _jahirthan_
as _More Turuiko_ would protect him there; so he went to the _jahir
than_ and climbed a tree in which a spirit abode; he took his bow
and arrows up with him but he was too frightened to go to sleep.
About supper time he saw a number of women who were witches collect
from all sides at the _jahir than_: at this sight he was more
frightened than ever; the witches then called up the _bongas_ and
they also summoned two tigers; then they danced the _lagre_ dance and
they combed the hair of the two tigers. Then they also called _More
Turniko_ and when they came, one bonga said "I smell a man" and _More
Turniko_ scolded him saying "Faith, you smelt nothing until we came;
and directly we come you say you smell a man; it must be us you smell";
and the chief of the _bongas_ agreed that it must be all right. Then
while the women were dancing the boy took his bow and shot the two
tigers, and the tigers enraged by their wounds fell on the witches
and killed them all; and then they died themselves; and as they were
dying they roared terribly so that the people in the villages near
heard them. When it grew light the boy climbed down and drawing the
arrows from the bodies of the tigers went home.
Then the people asked him where he had spent the night and he said
that he was benighted while looking for his calf and as he heard tigers
roaring near the _jahir than_ he was frightened and had stayed in the
jungle. They told him that when the tigers began to roar the calf
had come running home by itself and this was good news to the herd
boy. Then he found that all the children in the village were crying for
their mothers and the men were asking what had become of their wives;
then the herdboy said that in the night he had seen some women going in
the direction of the _jahir than_ but he had not seen them come back
and they had better go and look there. So the villagers went off and
found their wives lying dead by the _jahir than_ and the two tigers
also dead; and they knew that the women must have been witches to go
there at night; so they wept over them and burned the bodies. And a
long time afterwards the boy told them all that he had seen and done;
and they admitted that he had done right in destroying the witches
and that it would be well if all witches met the same fate.
This story whether true or not is told to this day.
CLXXXV. The Man-Tiger.
There was once a young man who when a boy had learnt witchcraft from
some girl friends; he was married but his wife knew nothing about
this. They lived happily together and were in the habit of paying
frequent visits to the wife's parents. One day they were on their
way together to pay such a visit and in passing through some jungle
they saw, grazing with a herd of cattle, a very fine and fat bull
calf. The man stopped and stripped himself to his waist cloth and
told his wife to hold his clothes for him while he went and ate the
calf that had stirred his appetite. His wife in astonishment asked
him how he was going to eat a living animal; he answered that he
was going to turn into a tiger and kill the animal and he impressed
on her that she must on no account be frightened or run away and he
handed her a piece of root and told her that she must give it him to
smell when he came back and he would at once regain his human shape.
So saying he retired into a thicket and took off his waist cloth and
at once became a tiger; then he swallowed the waist cloth and thereby
grew a fine long tail. Then he sprang upon the calf and knocked it over
and began to suck its blood. At this sight his wife was overwhelmed
with terror and forgetting everything in her fear ran right off to
her father's house taking with her her husband's clothes and the
magic root. She arrived breathless and told her parents all that had
happened. Meanwhile her husband had been deprived of the means of
regaining his own form and was forced to spend the day hiding in the
jungle as a tiger; when night fell he made his way to the village
where his father-in-law lived. But when he got there all the dogs
began to bark and when the villagers saw that there was a tiger they
barricaded themselves in their houses.
The man-tiger went prowling round his father-in-law's house and at
last his father-in-law plucked up courage and went out and threw
the root which the wife had brought under the tiger's nose and he
at once became a man again. Then they brought him into the house
and washed his feet; and gave him hot rice-water to drink; and on
drinking this he vomited up lumps of clotted blood. The next morning
the father-in-law called the villagers and showed them this blood and
told them all that had happened; then he turned to his son-in-law and
told him to take himself off and vowed that his daughter should never
go near him again. The man-tiger had no answer to make but went back
silently and alone to his own home.
_Note_:--The following is a prescription for making an _Ulat bag_
"The fibre of a plant (Bauhinia vahli) beaten out and cooked in
mustard oil in a human skull."
_Adwa_. Rice husked without having been boiled.
_Arta_. Red pigment applied to the feet for ornament.
_Baha Porob_. The flower festival; the spring festival held about
_Bandi_. A receptacle for storing grain, made of straw rope.
_Bharia_. A bamboo carried on the shoulder with a load slung at
_Bhut_. A ghost, a harmful spirit, not originally a Santal word.
_Bonga_. The name for all gods, godlings and supernatural beings. Sing
bonga is the sun god; the spirits of ancestors are bongas, there are
bongas of the hills, streams and the forest; others are like fairies
and take human form. Sacrifices are offered to bongas on all occasions.
_Brinjal_. The egg plant.
_But_. Grain, a kind of pulse.
_Chamar_. A low caste, workers in leather.
_Chando_. The sun, the supreme god of the Santals.
_Champa_. A country in which according to their traditions, the
Santals once lived.
_Charak Puja_. The festival at which men are swung by hooks from
_Chatar_. A festival at which dancing takes place round an umbrella.
_Chowkidar_. A watchman.
_Churin_. The spirit of a woman who has died while pregnant, her feet
are turned backwards. Not originally Santal.
_Chumaura_. A ceremony observed at marriage, and Sohrae festival.
_Dain_. A witch. Witches are supposed to use their powers to cause
sickness and death; women accused of witchcraft are often murdered.
_Dehri_. The president of the annual hunt; he presides over the
Court which during the hunt hears appeals against unjust decisions
_Dewan_. The chief minister of a Raja.
_Dhobi_. A washerman.
_Dhoti_. The waistcloth worn by men.
_Dom_. A low caste, scavengers, basketmakers and drummers.
_Gamcha_. A small piece of cloth worn round the neck, or when bathing.
_Ghat_. The approach to a pool or river at which people bathe; the
crossing place of a river.
_Ghormuha_. A horse-headed monster; not a Santal name.
_Goala_. A man of the cow keeping caste.
_Godet_. The village constable, the official messenger of the headman.
_Goondli_. A small millet.
_Gosain_. A religious ascetic, usually of the Vishnuite persuasion.
_Gupini_. A celestial milkmaid, such as those who danced with Krishna;
not a Santal creation.
_Gur_. Juice of sugar cane, molasses.
_Hadi_. A low caste of scavengers.
_Jan_ or _Jan guru_. A witch finder. When a man is ill the Jan is
consulted as to what witch is responsible. The Jan usually divines
by gazing at an oiled leaf.
_Jahirtkan_. The group of sacred trees left in each village for the
accomodation of the spirits of the forest when the jungle is cleared.
_Jai tuk_. A bullock given to a woman at her marriage.
_Jhalka_. A boastful man.
_Jogi_ or _Jugi_. A religious ascetic, a mendicant.
_Lota_. A small brass water pot.
_Lakh_. One hundred thousand.
_Mahadeo_. The great god, i.e. Siva.
_Mahajan_. A moneylender.
_Mahuli_. A tribe akin to the Santals, basket makers by profession.
_Malhan_. A cultivated leguminous plant.
_Manjhithan_. The little pavilion in the centre of every Santal village
at which the spirits of dead headmen are worshipped and where village
councils are held.
_Mantra_. An incantation, sacred or magic formula.
_Marang Burn_. The great spirit, the original chief god of the Santals.
_Marwari_. A trader from Rajputana and the adjoining parts.
_Maund_. A weight, 40 seers or 82 pounds.
_Meral_. A small tree. Phyllanthus emblica.