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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 con
sider 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 any thing 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,
And my imagination was so worked on that I could scarcely rouse myself from the utmost conviction I felt of my being surrounded by the savage inhabitants of the deep and sequestered glen through which I was passing. From these fastnesses the Mhairs were used to come suddenly down with an irresistible impetuosity, and burn and plunder the whole neighbouring country; the people were paralized with dread, and the hardy savages were safe again before they could resume courage to act on the defensive.”*
These people were, a few years ago, brought into subjection by the British power, and under our protective rule have become more quiet and civilized. Agricultural pursuits have been encouraged among them, and their vallies, it is said, now display the marks of industrious cultivation.
Nepal, including its tributary provinces, was one of the most extensive independent sovereignties in India, comprehending nearly the whole of northern Hindustan.
The country is mountainous, giving rise to many rapid streams. “ At Hettowra it is composed of a confused heap of hills, separated in various directions by narrow bottoms or glens, which is the appearance exhibited by the greatest part of the mountainous tract known under the general name of Nepal ; no single uninterrupted chain or range being met with after passing the Cheriaghauti ridge. The sides of these hills are every where covered with tall forests (chiefly of saul or sisso), or partially cultivated with different sorts of grain. The mountainous tract to the east is inhabited by various uncultivated nations, the principal of whom are the Kyrauts, the Hawoos, and the Limbooas, who are all Hindus of the Brahminical persuasion, but of the lowest caste. The chief towns are Katmandoo, Gorkah, Pattan, Bhatgan, Jemlah, Almora, and Serinagur.
“ The valley of Nepal Proper, whence the sovereignty takes its name, is nearly of an oval figure : its greatest length from north to south is twelve miles, by nine its greatest breadth; the circumference of the whole being
* India Gazette. Asiatic Journal.