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however of persons being killed, and others wounded; but they are very rare. A few years ago, a person at Kidurpoorů, near Calcutta, cast himself on a knife used in cleaning fish, which entered his side, and was the cause of his death. He threw himself from the stage twice on the same day; the second time, (which was fatal,) to gratify a prostitute with whom he lived.-In some villages, several of these stages are erected, and as many as two or three hundred people cast themselves on these spikes in one day, in the presence of great crowds of people. The worshippers of Shivŭ make a great boast of the power of their god in preserving his followers in circumstances of such danger.

The next day is spent in idleness, the sunyasēēs lying about Shivu's temple, and wandering about like persons half drunk, or jaded with revelling. On the following day, a large fire is kindled opposite Shivu's temple; and when the burnt wood has been formed into a great heap, one of the chief sunyasees, with a bunch of eanes in his hand, flattens the heap a little, and walks over it with his feet bare. After him, the other sunyasēēs spread the fire about, walk across it, dance upon it, and then cast the embers into the air and at each other.

The next morning early the work of piercing the tongues and sides commences. In the year 1806 I went to Kalēēghată, in company with two or three friends, to witness these practices; at which place we arrived about five o'clock in the morning. We overtook numerous companies who were proceeding thither, having with them drums and other instruments of music; also spits, canes, and different articles to pierce their tongues and sides. Some with tinkling rings. on their ancles were dancing and exhibiting indecent gestures as they passed along, while others rent the air with the

THE HINDOO MYTHOLOGY.

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sounds of their filthy songs. As we entered the village where the temple of this great goddess is situated, the crowds were so great that we could with difficulty get our vehicles along, and at last were completely blocked up. We then alighted, and went amongst the crowd. But who can describe a scene like this?—Here, men of all ages, who intended to have their tongues pierced, or their sides bored, were buying garlands of flowers to hang round their necks, or tie round their heads ;-there, others were carrying their offerings to the goddess: above the heads of the crowd were seen nothing but the feathers belonging to the great drums, and the instruments of torture which each victim was carrying in his hand. These wretched slaves of superstition were distinguished from others by the quantity of oil rubbed on their bodies, and by streaks and dots of mud all over them: some of the chief men belonging to each company were covered with ashes, or dressed in a most fantastic manner, like the fool among mountebanks. For the sake of low sport, some were dressed as English women; and others had on a hat, to excite the crowd to laugh at Europeans. As soon as we could force our way, we proceeded to the temple of Kalēē, where the crowd, inflamed to madness, almost trampled upon one another, to obtain a sight of the idol. We went up to the door-way, when a bramhŭn, who was one of the owners of the idol, addressed one of my companions in broken English: "Money-money-for black mother." My friend, not much liking the looks of his black mother, declared he should give her nothing. From this spot we went into the temple-yard, where two or three blacksmiths had begun the work of piercing the tongues and boring the sides of these infatuated disciples of Shivă. The first man seemed reluctant to hold out his tongue; but the blacksmith, rubbing it with something like flour, and. having a piece of cloth betwixt his fingers, laid firm hold,

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THE HINDOO MYTHOLOGY.

dragged it out, and, placing his lancet under it in the middle, pierced it through, and let the fellow go. The next person, whose tongue we saw cut, directed the blacksmith to cut it on a contrary side, as it had been already cut twice. This man seemed to go through the business of having his tongue slit with perfect sang froid. The company of natives were entirely unmoved, and the blacksmith, pocketing the trifling fee given by each for whom he did this favour, laughed at the sport. I could not help asking, whether they were not punishing these men for lying.-After seeing the operation performed on one or two more, we went to another group, where they were boring the sides. The first we saw undergoing this operation was a boy, who might be twelve or thirteen years old, and who had been brought thither by his elder brother to submit to this cruelty. A thread rubbed with clarified butter was drawn through the skin on each side, with a kind of lancet having an eye like a needle. He did not flinch, but hung by his hands over the shoulders of his brother. I asked a man who had just had his sides bored, why he did this? He said, he had made a vow to Kalēē at a time of dangerous illness, and was now performing this vow: a bye-stander added, it was an act of holiness, or merit. Passing from this group, we saw a man dancing backwards and forwards with two canes run through his sides as thick as a man's little finger. In returning to Calcutta we saw many with things of different thicknesses thrust through their sides and tongues, and several with the pointed handles of iron shovels, containing fire, sticking in their sides. Into this fire every now and then they threw Indian pitch, which for the moment blazed very high. I saw one man whose singular mode of self-torture struck me much: his breast, arms, and other parts of his body, were entirely covered with pins, as thick as nails or packing nee

dles. This is called vanŭ-phōra. The person had made a vow to Shivů thus to pierce his body, praying the god to remove some evil from him.

Some sunyasees at this festival put swords through the holes in their tongues; others spears; others thick pieces of round iron, which they call arrows. Many, as a bravado, put other things through their tongues, as living snakes, bamboos, ramrods, &c. Others, to excite the attention of the crowd still more, procure images of houses, gods, temples, &c. and placing them on a single bamboo, hold them up in their hands, and put the bamboo through their tongues. In 1805, at Calcutta, a few base fellows made a bamboo stage, placed a prostitute upon it, and carried her through the streets, her paramour accompanying them, having one of her ancle ornaments in the slit of his tongue. Another year a man put his finger through the tongue of another person, and they went along dancing and making indecent gestures together. Others put bamboos, ropes, canes, the stalk of a climbing plant, the long tube of the hooka, &c. through their sides, and rubbing these things with oil, while two persons go before and two behind to hold the ends of the things which have been passed through the sides, they dance backwards and forwards, making indecent gestures. These people pass through the streets with these marks of self-torture upon them, followed by crowds of idle people. They are paid by the towns or villages where these acts are performed, and a levy is made on the inhabitants to defray the expense. On the evening of this day some sunyasēēs pierce the skin of their foreheads, and place a rod of iron in it as a socket, and on this rod fasten a lamp, which is kept burning all night. The persons bearing these lamps sit all night in or near Shivu's temple,

Piercing with arrows.

occasionally calling upon this god by different names.

On

the same evening, different parties of sunyasēēs hold conversations respecting Shivă in verse.

On the following day, in the afternoon, the ceremony called Churůků, or the swinging by hooks fastened in the back, is performed. The posts are erected in some open place in the town or suburbs: they are generally fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five cubits high. In some places a kind of worship is paid at the foot of the tree to Shivů, when two pigeons are let loose, or slain, In other parts, i. e, in the neighbourhood of Calcutta, the worship of Shivă is performed at his temple; after which the crowd proceed to the swinging posts, and commence the horrid work of torture. The man who is to swing prostrates himself before the tree, and a person, with his dusty fingers, makes a mark where the hooks are to be put. Another person immediately gives him a smart slap on the back, and pinches up the skin hard with his thumb and fingers; while another thrusts the hook through, taking hold of about an inch of the skin: the other hook is then in like manner put through the skin of the other side of the back, and the man gets up on his feet. As he is rising, some water is thrown in his face, He then mounts on a man's back, or is elevated in some other way; and the strings which are attached to the hooks in his back are tied to the rope at one end of the horizontal bamboo, and the rope at the other end is held by several men, who, drawing it down, raise up the end on which the man swings, and by their running round with the rope the machine is turned. In swinging, the man describes a circle of about thirty feet diameter. Some swing only a few minutes, others half an hour or more; I have heard of men who continued swinging for hours. In the southern parts of Bengal a piece of cloth is wrapt round the body under

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