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118 SUPERB MAHOMMEDAN PROCESSION.
supported, principally, by shaving the heads of bathers in the sacred waters of the Jumna and the Ganges; such purification being indispensable before venturing upon an ablution which is supposed to reach the very soul, and cleanse it from all defilement. A small tax is levied by the British government on each of these strangers; and, at festivaltimes, the office where it is received, and licenses to bathe are issued, is thronged with eager applicants, who grudge no labor, suffering, or expense, that they may obtain heaven by such means as are here required for the purchase of it. Aug. 12. On our return to Benares, we were in time to witness the most superb procession which we have yet seen in India. There were in it twelve elephants, richly caparisoned, each carrying four men; also six camels, finely bedizened and mounted ; after which came many horses, not less sumptuously appointed, some having riders, and others being led. Bands of musicians, with a posse of attendants and gazers, accompanied this truly Oriental spectacle. On inquiring the occasion, we were informed that it was in honor of a Mahommedan festival, and given by a widow of that profession, who had lived on loose terms with a wealthy European, over whom she had exercised such influence, that, at his death, he left her nearly the whole of his immense property. Among other temples, in the city and neighborhood, which we visited, was a famous one of Doorga. The image of the goddess is nothing more than a small medallion of a female face, of a gold color, fixed in the wall, ornamented round about with tinsel, and having a lamp on one side. Two Brahmins, seated near this representation, were receiving and offering the gifts of the people, which were merely chaplets, or handfuls of white flowers, or green foliage. These were thrown down upon the ground. Many persons were coming and going, some of whom prostrated themselves before venturing within the door. In the outer court a sacred bull was couched at his ease, chewing the cud; but, though he lay directly in the way, none ventured to disturb his rumination. The precincts of this temple are more lively than such places usually are, on account of the number and activity of the monkeys which frequent them, and which are said to have first flocked hither when the temple was opened—a circumstance which the superstitious builders would naturally interpret into a happy omen. There are
PRIVILEGED MONKEYS. 119
several large and ancient trees, at hand, some of which, with their foliage, overshadow the walls. On the branches of these, on the roof of the edifice, and on the top of the surrounding piazzas, multitudes of these impertinent animals, tame, quite at home, and conscious of their perfect impunity, are to be seen playing their tricks, up and down, here, there, and every where. Some of the elder and graver ones were lounging on the companion-places, watching the gambols of their fraternity above, but, with more interest (from selfish but laudable motives), the less exhilarating mummeries of those who, to them, might appear kinsfolks below—the priests and the votaries of Doorga; for many of the latter, after presenting flowers and leaves to the goddess, threw offerings, more savory and not less acceptable (sweetmeats), to the monkeys in her train. The habits of the females, in nursing their cubs, were very amusing, and as these chartered denizens of the sacred domain are fearlessly familiar, we might approach near enough distinctly to observe their actions. Some of them had young ones, not more than a few days’ old, others were training up their progeny, through all the stages of adolescence, up to monkey's estate. The dams were exceedingly vigilant and affectionate in performing their duties, and kept their little ones generally within reach of their hand, and always of their eye. While swinging about on the boughs of the trees, or scampering along the walls, if a giddy thing attempted to get too far from her, the dam darted forth her paw, caught it by the tail, or, if the tail slipped through her fingers, laid hold of a leg, and gently pulled the truant back. On any alarm, or disturbance, she huddled it instantaneously to her breast; the little one seized the teat in its mouth, clasped its arms and legs round her body, and remained closely attached, while she ran up the trunk of a tree, or sought security on the extremity of a branch. Frequently the cubs mounted on their mother's shoulders, back again, frisked or lay-down, at a growl, a beck, or a grin—for she seemed to rule by a set of nurserysignals, well understood. Some of the women in Benares are inveterate shrews; such, no doubt, there may be elsewhere, but here we have particularly remarked it. The tongue, however, is the main weapon (for they rarely come to blows), and fearfully expert are they in using it, for the annoyance not of their antagonists only, but of all who have the misfortune to come within
120 NATIVE FASHIONS.
“the wind of such commotion.” Downright scoldingmatches are kept up for hours in the market-places, among those who deal in commodities there. If domestic or other business call off one of the combatants before the affair is duly settled, she coolly thrusts her shoe under her basket, and leaves both on the spot, to signify that she is not yet satisfied. Immediately upon her return, the lady takes up her shoe and her argument, and begins where she broke off, nor ever ceases till she has exhausted her spleen, her strength, and her vocabulary of foul phrases, or obtained from the object of her vengeance the satisfaction required.
But the sex here, as might be expected, have a passion far more universal than the love of termagancy—the love of finery. Fashion can make any thing beautiful or becoming in the eyes of its votaries; otherwise, one would think that the preposterous rings, and other appendages, which many of the females attach to their noses—to say nothing of pendants to the ear, like clock-weights, or garniture going all round it, like the numerals on a dial-plate—would be deemed, disfigurements rather than embellishments of genuine loveliness; but here such outrages upon nature are so common as scarcely to appear such, after a little familiarity with them. Besides these, the women wear as many gold, silver, or copper rings, as they can afford, upon their wrists and arms, up to the shoulders. A metal knob, suspended by a string, and dangling to and fro as they walk, is also a favorite ornament. Their breasts and arms are tatooed, after the manner of the South Sea Islanders, with curious if not seemly devices, which are often well executed. The hair is generally divided upon the forehead, where a red line is drawn, besides the mark of caste down the nose, and some fanciful patch of coloring above. The lower limbs are not less loaded than the upper with manacles of fashion; ponderous links of which are placed round the ancles, and lesser ones upon the great toes; the latter rising in a conical form to the height of an inch and more. Their heads being generally covered with cloth of some kind, the mode of wearing the mass of hair is not much apparent; but many tie it in a knot behind. One of the finishing touches of beauty is to blacken the eyelids and lashes, which to us appeared the last mockery of ugliness, defacing countenances sufficiently disagreeable before. The men often wear necklaces and strings of beads, which they employ to keep the reckoning
DEPARTURE FROM BENARES. 121
of their prayers and ejaculations at their devotions: but they seldom employ anv other fopperies, and never tatoo their bodies.
Departure from Benares—Farm-establishment—Monument at Patna— Boat Swamped—Hot Springs near Monghir–Singular Superstition— . An Entertainment—Worship of Working-tools--Riding on Elephants —Sagacity of those Animals—Hindoo and Mahommedan Oaths— Indifference of Criminals to the Sentences passed on them—Infanticide—A great Piece of Ordnance—The Adjutant-crane—Festival of Doorga—The Bull-god—Tongue-boring—Worship of a black Stone.
Aug. 31. We left Benares on the 24th, and having moored off Dega, near Dinapore, for the night of this date, we took the opportunity of visiting the farm of Messrs. Howell and Son—an establishment so thoroughly English in character, that there was scarcely any thing in our own country of which we were not reminded by some counterpart or other on the spot. Here are extensive flower and kitchen-gardens, in which most of our native fruits and vegetables are carefully cultivated. In one part stands a large open building, with a tank full of water, on which a great number of teals, young and old, were sailing to and fro; in another a spacious piggery, where multitudes of hogs were wallowing in all the luxury of indolence and plenty; the beautiful birds and the gross swine being alike pampered, according to their habits, for the market and the table. A third and fourth arrangement consisted of stables and yards for horned cattle and horses, of each of which were many valuable ones. A fifth inclosure presented a deer-park; fish-ponds, abundantly stored, and menageries for a great diversity of fowls, were likewise included in the round of accommodations; on the entrance to which might indeed have been inscribed the old road-side-inn motto, “Good entertainment for man and beast.” Besides these, there was what might be called the “victualling-office,” a convenient building for curing beef and pork; also a well-furnished store-room for pickles and preserves; a cotton-warehouse; a shop for all kinds of European articles, including jewellery, glass, stationary, &c. &c., splendidly displayed. In suitable places we observed sheds for carpentry,
WOL. III. 11
122 - HOT SPRING NEAR MongHiR
turnery, and smiths' work; a metal-foundry, and a tan-yard; the bark used in the latter being from a tree of this country. In fact, this polytechnical establishment comprehends the means for carrying on every ordinary trade, and for supplying every peculiar want which foreigners here must feel in a land so different from their own. The dwelling-house of the proprietors, a very handsome edifice, stands in the centre of the premises, which are a mile in circuit. Sept. 1. At Patna, among other objects that attracted our attention, we were particularly struck, in the foreign buryingground, with the appearance of a monument in coxamemoration of the massacre, in cold blood, of two hundred European prisoners at this place, in the year 1763, by a German adventurer, then in the service of Meer Cossim. On a square pedestal stands a stately column, fifty feet in height, ornamented with five fillets, which project considerably from the shaft, and having a well-executed capital. There is no inscription; but he who asks why this stone has been raised may find thousands of voices to answer, in words which will probably outlast the pillar itself. Sept. 3. We reached Monghir by sunset. The current being very strong and rapid off the old fort here, the boat which towed our pinnace across the river came under the lee side of her, and was instantly sunk with five or six of her crew. Happily, however, they all got on board without injury, and the boat was afterwards recovered. Thus again hath the good hand of our God been upon us, to ward off danger, ever near, yet always kept at sufficient distance not to harm us. Near Monghir is a famous hot spring, called Seeta Koond, from the act of a Hindoo goddess, who being accused by her husband of infidelity, absolved herself by offering to take an oath of her innocence, and as a pledge of its truth, giving him the choice, whether a hot spring or a cold one should spout forth on the spot. He, being of a cold temperament, chose the former ; and no sooner had his wife sworn, than up bubbled this fountain, which a hundred ages had not been able to cool. The water is limpid and tasteless, and esteemed so pure that it is not only sought for drinking, at table, by the better classes of inhabitants, but stored for voyages, under the idea that it will keep better than any other. We found the temperature at 132°, but it varies in different parts of the well, which is inclosed in a brick cis