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without opposition, through the dominions of our allies the Peishwah and the Nizam, carried fire and sword almost from one end to the other of the district of Ganjam, and returned home laden with the spoil and stained with the blood of our subjects.”—Origin of the Pindaries. The result of these daring attacks on the British territories and those of our allies was the complete overthrow of these rapacious tribes; and, from our since extended control over central and western India, it may be hoped for ever. The people, however, are still the same, and the first native power in that part of India which might feel itself strong enough to defy us to the field, would not find the Pindarie slow in answering any signal of plunder that might be then displayed to him.
The country of the Goands (Goandwana) borders on that of the Bheels. Though not less savage these people appear to be somewhat less predatory than their neighbours. They are divided in various tribes, which, like others of the semi-barbarous races of Hindustan, can scarcely be considered as Hindus, as they eat every kind of flesh. “They have many rude superstitions amongst them; and worship Banga, or Banca Deva, to whom they offer fowls, goats, fruit, rice, grain, spirits, and, in short, whatever the country affords. They distil a sort of spirituous liquor called handia, and are much addicted to intoxication. They are very expert in the chace, and kill game with bows and arrows: these also are their chief implements of war, in addition to the hatchet and sword. When they meditate any act of aggression, the chiefs of the villages, after fasting for a day, take in the evening two fowls, which they designate as their own and the opposite party. These are put into a hole near the idol, and left buried during the night. In the morning the fowls are taken from their sepulchre, and the fortune of the contest is foretold, according to the bird which has survived the night's inhumation. Should their own representative have perished, the hostile purpose is abandoned, or suspended.
“All disputes amongst themselves are decided by the chiefs of the village, who seldom award a severer punishment than the cost of feasting the acquitted, or victorious party. “Their marriages do not take place before the fourteenth or fifteenth year, and seem to be attended with a singular ceremony. It is said that the bride is brought home in the evening, when in an assembly of the people the bridegroom applies the frontal mark made with vermilion, throws a garland of flowers round her neck, and then retires and conceals himself in the thickets. The relations of the bride arm themselves and go in quest of him, and if he is found during the night, the marriage is void; if not discovered, he appears in the morning, takes the bride by the hand, removes the veil from her face, and they dance together in the centre of a ring, formed by the assistants, who also dance round them. The ceremony is thus completed, and the rest of the day is devoted to festivity and mirth. The Lurka-Koles burn their dead in front of their dwellings, bury the ashes, and burn a light on the grave for the space of one month : they then erect a stone upon the spot. Their little traffic consists chiefly of an exchange of pulse, mustard, sesamum, and ghee, for salt and coarse cloths from the neighbouring pergunnahs.”—Asiatic Journal. One of the Goand tribes, the Binderwars, who inhabit the hills of Oomacuntu, near the source of the Nerbuddah river, is described as a race of cannibals. It may be presumed the only one inhabiting the hither peninsula of India. This race live in detached parties, and have seldom more than eight or ten huts in one place. They are cannibals in the real sense of the word, but never eat the flesh of any person not belonging to their own family or tribe, nor do they do this except on particular occasions. It is the custom of this singular people to cut the throat of any person of their family who is attacked by severe illness, and who they think has no chance of recovering, when they collect the whole of their relations and particular friends, and feast upon the body. In like manner, when a person arrives at a great age, and becomes feeble and weak, the Khulal Khor operates upon him, when the different members of the family assemble for the same purpose as above stated. In other respects, this is a simple race of people, nor do they consider cutting the throats of their sick relations or aged parents any sin; but on the contrary, an act acceptable to Kali, a mercy to their relations, and a blessing to the whole race. “Our Goand guide (says Lieutenant Pendergast, the writer of this extract,) drank the oil provided for the Mushal or flambeau, when I thought this a good opportunity of ascertaining the truth of their being cannibals, and on qusetioning him about killing and eating the sick and aged of his tribe, he did not deny it; but said it was an ancient custom of their's. I asked him if he would eat the flesh of people not belonging to his tribe, when, with visible marks of anger and disgust, he said, “no–I never eat of any person not belonging to my own tribe.’ These people form cisterns of bamboos and mud in the most accessible parts of the forest, which in the rains are filled with water; but in the dry season, should their scanty supply run short, they remove to a more convenient place, or to a cistern which has not been used; for each family forms a number of cisterns, sometimes several miles distant, to supply their wants as well as to facilitate their flight, should any unwelcome guest approach their dwellings. Their principal food is coarse rice, snakes of all sorts, wild hogs, deer, wild fowls of all kinds, cows, bullocks, monkeys, and in fact every thing they can put their hands on.”—Ibid.
The Mhairs.-The Nepalese; Sirmoris; Polyandry, &c.—The Rohillas.—The Roshaniah Sect. —The Dhamians.—The Bazeegurs, or Nuts.-The Parsees.—The Garrows.-The Kookies. . —The Sintiphos.-The Keyans.
The country of the Mhairs is situated but a very few miles west of Ajmere, and is composed of successive ranges of huge rocky hills, the only level country being the vallies running between them. Either from the insignificance or sturdy valour of this race, the rulers of India were never able to make any impression on them, notwithstanding their vicinity to the occasional residence, for a long period, of the emperors of Hindustan. “In later times the Mhairs have been the terror of their lowland neighbours; and even the Rajpoots, perhaps, with the sole exception of the Rohillas, the bravest men in India, dreaded their approach. “The peculiarities in the disposition of the Mhairs are an irresistible love of freedom, which is, among them, carried to such an excess, that they acknowledge no king or chief; or, at any rate, the obedience they pay to them is purely nominal, and only continued as long as suits their own convenience. When a predatory excursion was determined on, some distinguished warrior volunteered his services to lead the attack, and those who placed confidence in him associated themselves with his band; but their choice of leaders was entirely voluntary, and the engagement was only binding according to the will of the people. Regarding the religion of the Mhairs, I have been unable to learn any thing correctly: their ideas of caste, however, are quite distinct from those of the neighbouring people, or of the Hindus generally; and, I believe, they make no objection to receive food from the hands of Europeans; but they still have some prejudices on the subject, which, perhaps, would induce the expression “low caste Hindus' to be applied to them. They do not hesitate in expressing the contempt they entertain for even the highest class of Brahmans or Rajpoots, and, in fact, generally for all natives distinct from themselves. Their habits and customs would lead a traveller to conclude them nothing more or less than “Bheels;' but it is rather a surprising fact, that the appellation is, among them, the greatest insult that can be offered; such a stigma thrown on the most inferior among them, is only to be wiped away by the blood of the offender. “The country of the Mhairs a common observer would pronounce impenetrable; and so it certainly would be to anything but European valour. Its inhabitants reside in the deepest jungles, on the summits, chiefly, of their almost inaccessible mountains. Their towns formerly were securely hidden from all human search; the vallies were entirely deserted; and not a trace of man was there to meet the eye of a stranger, who could only conclude the country to be a barren and uninhabited waste; while, in reality, the people constantly stationed in the watch-towers, with which the summits of the mountains are crowned, had in all human probability given the alarm, and the sides of the hills were every where covered with the mountaineers, ready to rush down on their unsuspecting victim. Such was the state of the country but a very few years ago. I recollect passing a spot which most powerfully brought to my recollection Sir Walter Scott's beautiful description of the ambuscade in ‘The Lady of the Lake,” which he thus describes. “Instant through copse and heath arose, Bonnets and spears, and bended bows; On right and left, above, below, Sprung up at once the lurking foe; From shingles grey their lances start, The bracken bush sends forth the dart, The rushes and the willow wand Are bristling into axe and brand, And every tuft of broom gives life To plaided warrior armed for strife.”