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culating bramhŭni presents offerings and prayers to this goddess in the name of the child, promising for the parents, that if she be kind to the child, they will present to her certain offerings, &c. as soon as it is recovered. At the close of the ceremony, the bramhŭn places the flowers which have been offered in the hair of the child, telling the parents that the goddess will be favourable; and then performs the operation. When the child becomes affected with the disease, the family priest (if the parents be rich enough to pay for it) comes to the house every day, and repeats certain forms of prayer and praise to Shēētúla; after recovery she is again worshipped. If the child become dangerously ill, it is carried to an image of Shēētŭla, and bathed in the water which has been offered to this goddess, some of which is given it to drink.
Beggars of different descriptions procure a stone, gild a small part of it, and carry it from place to place, singing the praises of Shēētúla. These mendicants sometimes proclaim in a village, that Shēētŭla has appeared to one of them in a dream, and ordered, that in this village the mistress of each house shall beg at three, four, or more doors, and take whatever is given her, and eat it in some neighbouring garden or forest k. The most dreadful misfortunes being threatened in case of disobedience, the affrighted women beg from door to door, and fulfil the supposed commands of the goddess.
i The regular Hindoo doctors (voidyů) do not inoculate, but a lower order of bramhŭns called doivègnús, or astrologers.
k This is a trick to extort some part of the alms from these deluded
This goddess, the sister of Vasookee m, and the wife of Júrŭtkarŭ, a sage, is called the queen of the snakes, and is worshipped to obtain preservation from their bite. She is represented as sitting on the water-lily, clothed with snakes.
In the month Jyoist'hů, on the 10th of the increase of the moon; also on the 5th of the moon's increase and decrease in Ashwinŭ and Shravủnŭ, as well as on the last day of Shravủnŭ, this goddess is worshipped. On the three last occasions, the worshippers plant branches of the Euphorbia before the house, and worship them. In Shravůně the worship is celebrated with the greatest shew; on which occasion an image, or some branches of the same tree, or a pan of water surrounded with snakes made of clay, is placed as the object of worship: in some places, twenty or thirty thousand people assemble; and amidst singing, dancing, music, &c. some persons play with snakes of different kinds, particularly the cobra capello, suffering them to bite them. This play, however, ends fatally when the venomous fangs have not been carefully extracted. The cast called Mal, who play with snakes for a livelihood, profess great regard for Mănŭsa. On the days of the festival, the Hindoos do not kindle a fire, alleging that one of the names of Múnŭsa is Ŭrůndhủna, she who does not cook. A day or two before the festival, in some places, the women of the village (perhaps fifty or a hundred, or even two hundred) beg rice, either in their own or an adjoining vil
i Or, Múnúsa-dévēē; the goddess who possesses pleasure in herself. m The king of the serpents.
lage; which they offer, in a field in the neighbourhood, in the name of Múnúsa, but without an image. After thus offering rice, milk, curds, sugar, &c. to the goddess, they eat them on the spot; and this act of holiness, they say, preserves their children from the bite of snakes, as well as assists the parents themselves on their way to heaven. A song founded upon the following story concludes the whole:Chandŭ, a merchant, not only refused to worship the goddess, but professed the utmost contempt for her. In process of time, however, she caused his six youngest sons to be killed by the bite of snakes: to avoid the fate
whom, the eldest son, Lúkindúră, made an iron house, and retired to it; yet Múnŭsa caused the snake Tủkshủků to enter by a crevice, which destroyed Lŭkindúrŭ on his wedding-day: his widow escaped, and went weeping into the presence of her mother-in-law. The neighbours again attempted to reason with Chandŭ; but he continued obsti
nate, declaring that Múnŭsa was no goddess. She appeared : to people in dreams, and commanded them to persuade him
to celebrate her worship; and, after much entreaty, to pacify the goddess, he was induced to comply: but declared he would present the offerings only with the left hand"; and, turning back his head, he threw a flower at her image with the left hand. Múnŭsa, however, was so pleased, that she restored his seven sons; and from this circumstance, the worship of this goddess has since been very much celebrated.
When the worship is performed before an image, sheep, goats, and buffaloes are offered to Múnúsa, and even swineo.
The hand used in washing after stools.
Among the Egyptians swine, it is well known, were offered to Bacchus.
When a Hindoo has been bitten by a snake, the persons who pretend to cure him read different incantations containing the names of Múnúsa. If one or two persons in a village have died by the bite of snakes, all the inhabitants become alarmed, and celebrate the worship of Múnúsa.
SECT. XXVI. --Shůshtēēp
Is a yellow woman sitting on a cat, nursing a child. The Hindoos regard her as the protectress of their children.
Six annual festivals are held in honour of this goddess, viz. in Jyoisht’hủ, Bhadrů, Ashwinů, Maghủ, and two in Choitrů; on the 6th of the increase of the moon, and on the last day but one of the month.
The worship celebrated in Jyoisht'hŭ is performed by a bramhŭnēē, or an officiating bramhŭn, under the vŭtú tree, or under a branch of this tree planted in the house. At the time of this worship, every woman of the village, dressed in her best clothes, with her face painted, her ornaments on, and her body anointed with oil, goes to the place of worship under the tree, taking in her hand an offering; over each of which the officiating bramhŭn performs the usual ceremonies. The offerings are sent to the house of the officiating bramhŭn, or distributed amongst the eager by-standers. Among others who are eager to obtain some of these offerings, are women who have not been blessed with children; each of whom sits down pensively among the crowd, and
P She is worshipped on the sixth lunar day. • Ficus Indica.
opens the end of her garment to receive what the assembled mothers are eager enough to bestow : when the giver says, "May the blessing of Shủshtēë be upon you, and next year may you bring offerings with a child in your arms.' The receiver adds with eagerness, 'Ah! if she bestow this blessing, I will celebrate her worship; I will keep my vows, and bring offerings every year. This festival is called Arúnyú-shủshtēē, because the worshippers are di. rected to walk in some forest on this day, with fans in their hands.
In those houses where the daughter is married, but has not left her parents, they send for the son-in-law; and at the close of the worship the girl's father sends to him, on a metal plate, a flower, some unhusked rice, a piece of string consecrated to the goddess, five or six blades of dõõrvá grass, a garment, &c. The son-in-law, if a person of respectability, contents himself with sticking the flower in his hair. If a poor man, he puts on the garment, and raises all the other presents to his head. If the son-in-law neglect to stick the flower in his hair, the girl's father becomes very sorrowful; and all the spectators pronounce the former a dead man, for throwing away a flower which has been offered to Shủshtēě.
The worship in the month Bhadrŭ does not differ from the preceding, except in its being performed by the river side, or at a pool of water, before the stick which is whirled round in churning butter, upon which a fan is placed. In the midst of the worship the women make little paste images of children, and, placing them on leaves of the kúntúkēë tree', present them to the goddess, and afterwards
* Artecarpus integrifolia.