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three days' journey from Dacca, 50 or 60,000 people assemble, and sacrifice pigeons, sheep, and goats, casting them into the river. Children are also cast into the river here by their mothers, but are generally rescued and carried home by strangers. Superstitious people say, that on this day the river gradually swells so as to fill its banks, and then gradually sinks to its usual level.
The Voitúrŭnēē, in Orissa, is also placed among the sacred rivers, and on the thirteenth of the decrease of the moon in Choitrů, great multitudes of Hindoos, (six or seven hundred thousand,) assemble at Yajú-poorů, near the temple of Júgủnnat’hủ, and bathe in this river.
Many other rivers receive the same honours"; and I could have greatly enlarged this account, in detailing their fabulous histories, and in noticing the superstitious ceremonies of this deluded people on their banks: but what I have here inserted, and the preceding account of Gunga, must suffice.
THE WORSHIP OF FIBH.
VISHNOO, having been incarnate in the form of a fish, is worshipped on certain occasions, or rather a form of praise is repeated in honour of this incarnation.
In the preceding account of Gúnga it will also be seen, that the finny tribes of that river are worshipped at the festivals in honour of this goddess.
I am informed, however, that female Hindoos, residing on the banks of the Pudmŭ, on the 5th of the increase of the moon in Maghủ, actually worship the Ilishủ fish, when they first arrive in the river, with the usual ceremonies, and after that partake of them without the fear of injuring their health.
THE WORSHIP OF BOOKS.
THE Hindoos have deified their shastrůs, which, on different occasions, they worship with the same ceremonies as an idol, anointing the book with perfumes, and adorning it with garlands.
At the reading of any part of the védús, the Chŭndēē, and other works, the book to be read is always addressed as an idol. At such times the worshipper thus prays to the book : 'Oh! book! thou art the goddess of learning, bestow learning upon me.'
When an individual employs a bramhŭn to recite to his family and neighbours the Muhabharútă, Ramayúnŭ, Shrēēbhagúvătă, or any other poorană, the worship of the work recited is performed on the first and last days at considerable length, many offerings being presented : each day's recital is also preceded by a short service paid to the book.
At the festival in honour of the goddess Súrůswūtēē any one of the shastrès is adopted and worshipped, joined with the pen and inkstand.
The followers of Vishnoo, and especially the mendicant voiragēēs, pay a still greater reverence than the regular Hindoos to the books they esteem sacred. These books relate to the amours of Krishnŭ, or to the mendicants Choitůnyŭ and Nityanŭndă.
A book placed on a golden throne, and presented to & bramhŭn, is a very meritorious gift.
THE WORSHIP OF STONES
THIS is the ætites, or eagle-stone, of which there is a great variety, and to which many virtues were ascribed by the ancients. When I shewed a picture of the eagle-stone to a bramhŭn who was sitting with me, without informing him what it was, he exclaimed— This is the shalgramŭ ! and added, (jocularly,) 'Oh! then, Englishmen will be saved, as they have the shalgramů amongst them.'
This stone, black, hollow, and nearly round, is said to be brought from mount Gŭndúkee, in Napaul. It is added, that in this mountain there are multitudes of insects which perforate the masses of stone, so that pieces fall into the river Gúndukŭ in the shape of the shalgramů, from whence they are taken with nets. Common ones are about as large as a watch. They are valued according to their size, their hollowness, and the colours in the inside; and from these circumstances they are called by different names. The chief sorts are called Lūkshmēē-Narayúnŭ, Rŭghoonat’hủ,
* From sharů and gramů, which indicates that this stone makes the place excellent in which it is preserved, as the Múhabharůtů is said to purify the places in which it is read : hence bramhŭns are forbidden to enter a village where the Mühabharůtů is not found, as such place is propounced unclean.
Lukshmēē, Jūnardúnú, Vamŭnŭ, Damodúrů , &c. These different shalgramŭs are worshipped under their different
The first is sometimes sold for as much as two thousand roopees. The Hindoos have a notion, that whoever keeps in his house this celebrated stone, and a shell called dúkshina-vărtăr, can never become poor; but that the very day in which any one parts with one of them, he will begin to sink into poverty. Almost every respectable bramhún keeps a shalgramů, as do some shõõdrūs. The bramhŭn who does not keep one is reproached by his neighbours.
The reason why this stone has been deified is thus given in the Shrēē-bhagěvětů :-Vishnoo created the nine planets to preside over the fates of men. Shủnēe (Saturn) commenced his reign by proposing to Brúmha, that he should first come under his influence for twelve
Brúmha referred him to Vishnoo, but this god, equally averse to be brought under the dreaded influence of this inauspicious planet, desired Saturn to call upon him the next day, and immediately assumed the form of a mountain. The next day Saturn was not able to find Vishnoo, but discovering that he had united himself to mount Gèndukēe, he entered
b The Hindoos say, that this last shalgramů requires large offerings of food to be presented to it; and that a bramhún, who had begged one of them, and neglected to feed it sufficiently, was brought to ruin, this god having swept away nearly his whole family by death. Many stories of this kind are related of this stone. Though a single grain of rice was never known to be eaten by an image, yet the Hindoos firmly believe this and similar stories, against all the evidence of their senses for hundreds of years together. Gopalů, a learned bramhŭn employed in the Serampore printing-office, declared that one of these stones had been placed in his house by a relation, who attributed his family misfortunes to its powers.
• A shell, the convolutions of which turn to the right. Vishnoo is said to hold a shell of this kind in his hand.