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THE KOLS OF CHOTA NAGPORE.
country, well suited to their wants, and out of the reach of their enemies, for these hills are difficult of access.
The various tribes of aborigines to be found in this and contiguous districts of Central India amount to a considerable population, probably not less than several millions. The Basle Missionary Society has made a prosperous commencement towards their evangelization, in connexion with the Kols; and the Church Missionary Society a promising one in connexion with the Sonthals.
The religion of the Kols is a demon-worship, such as is found to prevail among the primitive races, until it has been superseded by some more elaborate kind of idolatry, such as Buddhism or Brahminism.
But this, with few exceptions, has not been the case with the Kols. Some of them who are better off, and aspire to be Zemindars, have taken to Brahmins and to Koli, but the mass of the people adhere to their “made gods.” They have their local deities or devils, to whom they offer propitiatory sacrifices, and their carousals, at which they eat, drink, sing and dance. They have their wizards and their witches. It is to the wildest and most savage of the tribe that such powers are generally ascribed ; and it is singular that not only do the Kols themselves, but the Hindus around them believe that they do possess such powers ; so that while the Kols as a people have not taken to the worship of any Hindu idols, the Hindus thivk it expedient to propitiate the gods of the Kols.
The Kols are divided into two tribes, Oraons and Moondahs. These never intermarry, although in all other respects they live as one people.
Each village has its priest, called the Pahan, and by him all the observances for propitiating the village gods or devils are performed. No Brahmins are permitted to interfere ; the office is generally hereditary, although not necessarily so. He has under his charge the land called Dalikhatari, and from the proceeds of this land he has to support himself, and provide the rice and rice-beer required for the festivals.
The Kols are generally a mild inoffensive race, although capable of being wildly excited, in connexion with that which amongst all backwood races ever proves to be an irritating question—that of land-tenure. On this matter some have had trouble with the Kols; but if this be not touched upon, or their rights interfered with, they are quiet enough, and would be contented to plod on just as their fathers did before them.
And that condition is a very low one. An Oraon family lives huddled together in a small, ill-constructed and untidy looking hut, the village consisting of a street or court of such huts. These huts have no gardens or orchards attached to them, but outside the village are planted groves of fruittrees, which form a beautiful feature in the scenery of Chota Nagpore. In every village there is a house called the Doomcoorea, in which all the unmarried men and boys are obliged to sleep, any one absenting himself being subject to a fine. In this building are kept the flags, musical instruments, yaks tails, and other things used at festivals ; while immediately in front is a circular space, the village dancing ground, sheltered by fine old trees, with seats placed about under their shade.
The Moondahs do not use the Doomcoorea, the houses which they
THE KOLS OF CHOTA NAGPORE.
build being such as decently to accommodate the whole family. These houses are larger, and not so crowded, being provided with verandahs, and separate departments for the different members of the family, Although it has no Doomcoorea, yet every Moondah village has its dancing place.
These dances, as illustrative of national customs and manners, are seen to most advantage at the great festivals called Jutras. The girls put on their best dress, generally a white saree, with a broad red border, their hair being tastefully arranged with flowers and plumes of the long breast feathers of the paddy-bird. The young men array themselves in a snow-white cloth, having on their heads Turkey red turbans, with flowers and peacock's feathers. “ As parties from the different villages approach the appointed place, they may be observed completing their toilettes in the open fields. When all is ready the groups form, and their approach from different sides, with their banners and yaks tails waving, horns and cymbals sounding, marshalled into alternate ranks of lads and lasses, all keeping perfect step, with the gay head-dresses of the girls, and the numerous brass ornaments of the boys glittering in the sun, forms a lively and pleasant picture.”
Alas! this is the sunny side of the picture. The torch-light lightens up the foreground, behind is the gloom; and there, hidden in that gloom, are the sorrows of our poor humanity, and nothing to relieve them. It is so with those races to which Christianity is a stranger. Like ourselves, they have sorrows to contend with ; unlike ourselves, they know not of Him, who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, and their sorrow, when it comes, is a sorrow without hope.
The dark side of the heathen Kol is his belief in witchcraft. When sickness comes, it is regarded as coming either from the wrath of some evil spirit, who has to be appeased, or from the spell of some witch or sorcerer, who, if discovered, ought to be destroyed. The action of British rule has put a restraint upon witch murders, so that they are now rare ; but if any one is suspected to be such, the village is soon made too hot to hold him.
“In 1857, when, in consequence of the mutinies, Singbhoom was temporarily without officers, the Ho tribes of the southern parts of the district, always the most turbulent, released from a restraint they had never been very patient under, set to work to search out the witches and sorcerers, who it was supposed, from the long spell of protection they had enjoyed, had increased and multiplied to a dangerous extent. In a report on this subject from the district officer in 1860, it is stated that the destruction of human life that ensued is too terrible to contemplate ; whole families were put an end to. In some instances the destroyers, issuing forth in the dusk, and commencing with the denounced wizard and his household, went from house to house, until before morning dawn they had succeeded in extinguishing, as they supposed, the whole race."
So true it is that even amongst the most inoffensive of heathen tribes, “the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.”
What a bright light it throws on this little sketch to be able to add that amongst the “Moondah-Oraons," for the word Kol is not their name, but a term of abuse given them by the Hindus, Christianity is
rapidly spreading. In 1864 the baptized converts numbered 5923. In 1865 they had increased to 7828. The young Oraons are intensely fond of decorating their persons with beads and brass ornaments. These the converts have entirely discarded, and may at once be known by the absence of such things. They do not join in the dances or festivals, and are not even present as spectators. “They appear to lose all relish for their old amusements, and shrink with horror at the idea of resuming their discarded ornaments. It is marvellous with what firmness old prejudices are abandoned, old customs are discarded, and even tastes changed, when they become Christians; and there is now a wide spread feeling among the Kols themselves, that this change will eventually come upon them all.”
The Lord's name be praised !
“NOT NOW." “He that had been possessed with the Devil, prayed Him that he might
be with Him.”—Mark v. 18.
A little longer on the billow's foam,--
And then the sunshine of thy Father's Home !
And thou must call them in with patient love,
And thou must follow them where'er they rove.
Wilt thou not tend them yet a little while ?
And thou must teach those widow'd hearts to sing ;
,—for many a hungry one is pining,
And gives His answering messages to thee.
And pris'ners' sighs sound strangely on the breeze,
Hast thou no ministry of love for these !
And souls are perishing in hopeless sin,
Go to the banished ones, and fetch them in ! -
And speak that Name in all its living power;
Canst thou not watch with me one little hour ?
WOMAN'S MISSION TO THE WOMEN OF SYRIA. “The Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind : and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake : and after the earthquake, a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire : and after the fire a still small voice.” It is ever so. The still small voice is God's message of mercy in Christ Jesus to sinful man. But it is often of necessity that judgments, afflictions of various kinds, the wind, the earthquake, the fire go before it, or else many will not hear it. They are as the plough which breaks up the hard ground, else the seed could not be sown.
It has been so in the Lebanon. That goodly mountain region is peopled by various races, and more particularly by the Druses and Maronites, the former a kind of mongrel Mohammedans; the others professing Christians of the Romish persuasion. Between these races a deadly feud has existed for generations, which has broken out from time to time. The last outbreak, in 1860, was one of peculiar atrocity. It is generally concluded that the Druses were the aggressors; the Maronites retaliated. The Turkish troops on the mountains were few in number. The Druses availed themselves of the opportunity, and assembling in great force, began to sack the Maronite towns and villages, and to massacre the inhabitants.
One of the places thus assaulted was Hashbaya, lying under the shadow of Mount Hermon. When the Druses surrounded the town, the Christians, finding themselves ,unequal to resist them, fled to the Serai, where the Turkish troops were quartered, imploring protection. This the commander promised to afford them provided they laid down their arms. They did so. The arms were put on the backs of mules, under the pretext of their being forwarded to a place of safety. Before, however, the mules were sent out of the valley, the Druses fell upon them, and, the soldiers making no resistance, possessed themselves of the
Meanwhile the Christians, men, women and children, remained shut up in the Serai with hardly any food and water, and in a state of great suffering. The soldiers now began to leave, and the unfortunate people saw, when too late, how grievously they had been deceived.
They rushed into the outer court and entreated to be let out. The signal was then given : the gates were thrown open, and the Druses rushing in, commenced an indiscriminate slaughter of the males, of whom not more than forty or fifty escaped.
About three weeks after, having occupied themselves during the interval in sacking other places, the Druses again surrounded the town. The Christians were defenceless, for, like those at Hashbaya, they had
NUNC DIMITTIS," OR A CHINESE SIMEON.
been persuaded by the Turkish governor to give up to him their arms. According to his directions they had assembled, the greater part of them, in the Serai. At a signal the gates were thrown open, the Druses rushed in, and began cutting down all the males. Some contrived to hide themselves in drains; others, who were only wounded, crawled away. It must be remembered that these people at Deir el Kamar had been wealthy, living in well-built and comfortable houses. The survivors were reduced to the utmost want. In this horrible massacre from 1100 to 1200 males perished, the boys being no more spared than the men. The Druses then set fire to the town, the smoke of which came over Beyrout as a column of cloud to warn the people there of what had occurred.
These horrible events led to a French intervention. French troops were landed. The Turkish officials were compelled to exert themselves, and after a time the Lebanon was restored to quietude.
Is the still small voice of Gospel truth now being heard there, and are the people willing to hear ?
The American Missionaries are at work, and Mrs. Bowen Thompson, through the aid of kind Christian friends in England and elsewhere, is increasing her schools for girls throughout the Lebanon.
One of this lady's earliest visits was to Hashbaya, and she describes the pitiable condition in which she found this, once the largest, most prosperous and beautiful village of the Lebanon. But what is more to the point, her proposal of opening a school for girls, Druses and Maronites, was eagerly hailed by all parties. That school is at work. It is attended by members of the family of Sitt Naify, the sister of the great Druse chief, Said Jumblatt Beg of Mokhtara.
So wonderfully does God work, bringing good out of evil.
“NUNC DIMITTIS," OR A CHINESE SIMEON. On the 18th of April 1865, whilst visiting, in company with a young catechist, the large district lying to the north of the Tsông-gyiao station of the Church Missionary Society, I reached a small village named Lu-kô, of which I made a memorandum in my journal as a little village, but with good listeners." Here an old man, deaf, but very intelligent, listened eagerly. He was greatly entertained at the suggestion that the words for “abusive language"and"murder” (in his vernacular) are not much unlike in sound; and that the one vice is but the root of the other. The young catechist spoke long and very clearly on Christ's power, on His life, death and resurrection.”
It is of this old man, now gone, I trust, to his eternal rest, that I wish to give a few particulars. He was of the lowest class—a class composed of play-actors, sedan-chair bearers and barbers ; but he was not in poverty, since he had three married sons, with whom he lived in rotation. His conscience seems to have been awakened, in a certain sense,
for some time previous to our visit, for he had tried several ways to obtain peace ; but the Buddhist priests rejected him because his fees were too small, and he seemed eagerly desirous of finding the true way.