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ever, a little food is brought, and placed in the fire
without being cooked. The purohit decorates a Ficus
stick with dharbha grass, and gives it to the bride-
groom. It is placed in the roof, or somewhere
within the house, near the seed-pans. [According to the
Grihya Sutras, the couple ought to occupy the same mat,
with the stick between them. This is not in vogue
amongst several sections of Brahmans. The Mysore
Carnatakas, Mandya Aiyangars, and Shivallis, observe a
kindred ceremony. Amongst the Mandyas, for example,
on the fourth night of the marriage rites, the bridal
couple occupy the same mat for a short time, and a stick
is placed between them. The Pajamadme, or mat
marriage, amongst the Shivalli Brahmans, evidently
refers to this custom.] On the second and third days
of the marriage ceremonies, homams are performed in
the morning and evening, and the nalagu ceremony is


performed. In this, the couple are seated on two planks
covered with mats and cloth, amidst a large number of
women assembled within the pandal. In front of them,
betel leaves, areca nuts, fruits, flowers, and turmeric
paste are placed in a tray. The women sing songs which
they have learnt from childhood, and the bride also sings
the praises of the bridegroom. Taking a little of the
turmeric paste rendered red by the addition of chunam
(lime), she makes marks by drawing lines over the feet
(nalangu idal). The ceremony closes with the waving
of arathi (water coloured red with turmeric and chunam),
and the distribution of pan-supari (betel leaves and areca
nuts). The waving is done by two women, who sing
appropriate songs. On the fourth day, Brahmans
assemble, and the pair are seated in their midst. After
the recitation of Vedic verses, the contracting couple are
blessed. A small quantity of turmeric paste, reddened
by the addition of chunam, is mixed with ghi, and
smeared over the shoulders of the pair, and a mark is
made on their foreheads. This is called Pachchai
Kalyanam, and is peculiar to Tamil Brahmans, both
Smarthas and Vaishnavas. Amongst Tamil Brahmans,
prominence is given to the maternal uncles on the fourth
day. The bride and bridegroom are carried astride on
the shoulders of their uncles, who dance to the strains
of a band. When they meet, the couple exchange
garlands (malaimaththal). Towards evening, a pro-
cession is got up at the expense of the maternal uncle of
the bride, and is hence called Amman Kolam. The
bride is dressed up as a boy, and another girl is dressed
up to represent the bride. They are taken in procession
through the streets, and, on their return, the pseudo-
bridegroom is made to speak to the real bridegroom
in somewhat insolent tones, and some mock play is


indulged in. The real bridegroom is addressed as if he
was the syce (groom) or gumastha (clerk) of the pseudo-
bridegroom, and is sometimes treated as a thief, and
judgment passed on him by the latter. Among Sri
Vaishnavas, after the Pachchai smearing ceremony, the
bridal couple roll a cocoanut to and fro across the dais,
and the assembled Brahmans chant stanzas in Tamil
composed by a Vaishnava lady named Andal, an avatar
of Lakshmi, who dedicated herself to Vishnu. In these
stanzas, she narrates to her attendants the dream, in
which she went through the marriage ceremony after
her dedication to the god. Pan-supari, of which a little,
together with some money, is set apart for Andal, is
then distributed to all present. A large crowd generally
assembles, as it is believed that the chanting of Andal's
srisukthi (praise of Lakshmi) brings a general blessing.
The family priest calls out the names and gotras of those
who have become related to the bride and bridegroom
through their marriage. As each person's name is called
out, he or she is supposed to make a present of cloths,
money, etc., to the bridegroom or bride. [The Telugu
and Carnataka Brahmans, instead of the Pachchai
Kalyanam, perform a ceremony called Nagavali on the
fourth or fifth day. Thirty-two lights and two vessels,
representing Siva and Parvathi, are arranged in the
form of a square. Unbleached thread, soaked in turmeric
paste, is passed round the square, and tied to the pandal.
The bridal couple sit in front of the square, and, after
doing puja (worship), cut the thread, and take their
seats within the square. The bridegroom ties a tali
of black glass beads on the bride's neck, in the presence
of 33 crores (330 millions) of gods, represented by
a number of small pots arranged round the square.
Close to the pots are the figures of two elephants,



designed in rice grains and salt respectively. After
going round the pots, the couple separate, and the
bridegroom stands by the salt elephant, and the bride
by the other. They then talk about the money value of
the two animals, and an altercation takes place, during
which they again go round the pots, and stand, the
bridegroom near the rice elephant, and the bride near
the salt one. The bargaining as to the price of the
animals is renewed, and the couple go round the pots
once more. This ceremony is followed by a burlesque
of domestic life. The bride is presented with two
wooden dolls from Tirupati, and told to make a cradle
out of the bridegroom's turmeric -coloured cloth, which
he wore on the tali-tying day. The couple converse on
domestic matters, and the bridegroom asks the bride to
attend to her household affairs, so that he may go to
his duties. She pleads her inability to do so because of
the children, and asks him to take charge of them. She
then shows the babies (dolls) to all present, and a good
deal of fun is made out of the incident. The bride, with
her mother standing by her side near two empty chairs,
is then introduced to her new relations by marriage,
who sit in pairs on the chairs, and make presents of
pan-supari and turmeric.] On the fifth day of the
marriage ceremonies, before dawn, the bridal couple are
seated on the dais, and the Gandharva stick is removed,
with the words : " Oh ! Visvawasu Gandharva, I pray
to you to make this girl my wife. Unite her with me.
Leave her, and seek another." The bridegroom then
performs homams. A coin is placed on the bride's
head, and a little ghi put thereon. Gazing at the bride-
groom, she says : " With a loving heart I regard thee
who knowest my heart. Thou art radiant with tapas
(penance). Fill me with a child, and this house of ours


with wealth. Thou art desirous of a son. Thus shalt
thou reproduce thyself." Looking at the bride, the
bridegroom then says : " I see thee radiant and eager
to be filled with child by me. Thou art in thy youth
now. Enjoy me, therefore, while I am over you, and so
reproduce thyself, being desirous of a son." Touching
the bride's breasts with his ring-finger, and then touching
his heart, he repeats the following : " May the Viswe
gods unite our hearts ; may the water unite our hearts ;
may Vayu and Brahma unite our hearts ; and may
Sarasvati teach us "both conversation appropriate to
this occasion of our intercourse." More Vedic riks
are then recited, as follows : " Thou Prajapathi, enter
my body that I may have vigour during this act ; so
thou Thvastri, who fashionest forms with Vishnu and
other gods ; so thou Indra, who grantest boons with thy
friends the Viswedevas, by thy blessing may we have
many sons. May Vishnu make thy womb ready ; may
Thvashtri frame the shape (of the child) ; may Prajapathi
pour forth (the sperm) ; may Dhatri give thee con-
ception. Give conception, Sinivali ; give conception,
Sarasvati. May the two Asvins, wreathed with lotus,
give conception to thee. The embryo which the two
Asvins produce with their golden kindling sticks, that
embryo we call into thy womb, that thou mayst give
birth to it after ten months. As the earth is preg-
nant with Agni, as the heaven is pregnant with Indra,
as Vayu dwells in the womb of the regions (of the
earth), thus I place an embryo in thy womb. Open thy
womb ; take in the sperm. May a male child, an embryo,
be begotten in the womb. The mother bears him ten
months, may he be born, the most valiant of his kin.
May a male embryo enter the womb, as an arrow the
quiver ; may a man be born here, thy son, after ten


months. I do with thee (the work) that is sacred to
Prajapathi ; may an embryo enter the womb. May a
child be born without deficiency, with all its limbs, not
blind, not lame, not sucked out by Pisachas" (devils).
The marriage is brought to a close, after this recitation,
with the presentation of fruits, etc., to all the Brahmans
assembled, and to all relations, children included. The
bridegroom chews betel for the first time on this day.
The wrist-threads are removed, and the seed-pans
containing the seedlings, which have been worshipped
daily, are taken in procession to a tank (pond), into
which the seedlings are thrown.

It will be noticed that prayers for male issue are
of frequent occurrence during the marriage ceremonial.
In Sanskrit works, Putra (son) is defined as one who
delivers a parent from a hell called put. It is generally
believed that the welfare of a parent's soul depends
oh" the performance of sradh (memorial services) by his
son. It was laid down by Manu that a man is perfect,
when he consists of three himself, his wife, and his son.
In the Rig Veda it is stated that "when a father sees
the face of a living son, he pays a debt in him, and gains
immortality. The pleasure which a father has in his
son exceeds all other enjoyments. His wife is a friend,
his daughter an object of companion, his son shines
as his light in the highest world." The following story
of a certain pious man of ascetical temperament, who
determined to shirk the religious duty of taking a wife,
is narrated by Monier Williams : " Quietly skipping
over the second prescribed period of life, during which
he ought to have been a householder (grihastha), he
entered at once upon the third period that is to
say, he became an ascetic, abjured all female society,
and retired to the woods. Wandering about one day,


absorbed in meditation, he was startled by an extra-
ordinary spectacle. He saw before him a deep and
apparently bottomless pit. Around its edge some
unhappy men were hanging suspended by ropes of grass,
at which here and there a rat was nibbling. On asking
their history, he discovered to his horror that they were
his own ancestors compelled to hang in this unpleasant
manner, and doomed eventually to fall into the abyss,
unless he went back into the world, did his duty like
a man, married a suitable wife, and had a son, who would
be able to release them from their critical predicament."
This legend is recorded in detail in the Mahabharata.

A curious mock marriage ceremony is celebrated
amongst Brahmans when an individual marries a third
wife. It is believed that a third marriage is very
inauspicious, and that the bride will become a widow.
To prevent this mishap, the man is made to marry the
arka plant (Calotropis gigantea), and the real marriage
thus becomes the fourth. If this ceremony is carried on
in orthodox fashion, it is generally celebrated on some
Sunday or Monday, when the constellation Astham
is visible. The bridegroom and a Brahman priest,
accompanied by a third Brahman, repair to a spot where
the arka plant (a very common weed) is growing. The
plant is decorated with a cloth and a piece of string, and
symbolised into the sun. The bridegroom then invokes
it thus : " Oh ! master of three loks, Oh ! the seven-
horsed, Oh ! Ravi, avert the evils of the third marriage."
Next the plant is addressed with the words : " You are
the oldest of the plants of this world. Brahma created
you to save such of us as have to marry a third time, so
please become my wife." The Brahman who accom-
panies the bridegroom becomes his father-in-law for the
moment, and says to him : " I give you in marriage


Aditya's great grand-daughter, Savi's grand-daughter,
and my daughter Arkakanya." All the ceremonies, such
as making homam, tali-tying, etc., are performed as at
a regular marriage, and, after the recitation of a few
sentences from the Vedas, the plant is cut down. " The
plant," Mr, A. Srinivasan writes,* " is named arka after
the sun. When the car of the sun turns towards the
north, every Hindu applies the leaves of this plant to
his head before he bathes, in honour of the event. The
plant is, besides, believed to be a willing scapegoat to
others' ills. Oil and ghi applied to the head of the
victim of persistent illness has only to be transferred
to this plant, when it withers and saves the man, even as
Baber is said to have saved his son. The poet Kalidasa
describes sweet Sakuntala, born of a shaggy dweller
of the forest, as a garland of jasmine thrown on an arka
plant. ' May the arka grow luxuriant in your house '
is the commonest form of curse. ' Be thou belaboured
with arka leaves ' is familiar in the mouths of reprimand-
ing mothers. Adulterers were, half a century ago, seated
on an ass, face to the tail, and marched through the
village. The public disgrace was enhanced by placing
a garland of the despised arka leaves on their head.
[Uppiliyan women convicted of immorality are said to be
garlanded with arka flowers, and made to carry a basket
of mud round the village.] A Telugu proverb asks
' Does the bee ever seek the arka flower ? ' The reasons
for the ill-repute that this plant suffers from are not
at all clear. The fact that it has a partiality for wastes
has evidently brought on its devoted head the dismal
associations of desolation, but there would seem to be
more deep-seated hatred to the plant than has been

* Madras Christian College Magazine, March, 1903.


explained." A Tamil proverb has it that he who
crushes the bud of the arka earns merit. Some Telugu
and Canarese Brahmans, who follow the Yajur Veda or
Rig Veda, consider the arka plant as sacred, and use the
leaves thereof during the nandhi (ancestor invoking)
ceremony, which is performed as one of the marriage
rites. Tw r o or three arka leaves, with betel leaves and
areca nuts, are tied to the cloth, which is attached to
a stick as representing the ancestors (pithrus). With
some the arka leaves are replaced by leaves of Pongamia
glabra. On rathasapthami day (the seventh day after
the new moon in the month Avani), an orthodox Hindu
should bathe his head and shoulders with arka leaves in
propitiation of Surya (the sun). Brahmans who follow
the Sama Veda, during the annual upakarmam ceremony,
make use of arka leaves and flowers in worshipping the
Rishis and Pithrus. On the upakarmam day, the Sama
Vedis invoke their sixty-two Rishis and the last three
ancestors, who are represented by sixty-five clay balls
placed on arka leaves. To them are offered arka flowers,
fruits of karai-chedi (Canthium parvifloruni), and naval
(Eugenia Jamb o I ana]. In addition to this worship, they
perform the Rishi and Pithru tharpanam by offering
water, gingelly (Sesamum indicuni} seeds, and rice. The
celebrant, prior to dipping his hand into the water,
places in his hands two arka leaves, gingelly, and rice.
The juice of the arka plant is a favourite agent in
the hands of suicides. Among the Tangalan Paraiyans,
if a young man dies before he is married, a ceremony
called kannikazhithal (removing bachelorhood) is per-
formed. Before the corpse is laid on the bier, a garland
of arka flowers is placed round its neck, and balls of mud
from a gutter are laid on the head, knees, and other
parts of the body. In some places a variant of the


ceremony consists in the erection of a mimic marriage
booth, which is covered with leaves of the arka plant,
flowers of which are also placed round the neck as a
garland. At a form of marriage called rambha or kathali
(plantain) marriage, the arka plant is replaced by a
plantain tree (Musa). It is performed by those who
happen to be eldest brothers, and who are incapable of
getting married, so as to give a chance to younger
brothers, who are not allowed to marry unless the elder
brother or brothers are already married.

At the present day, many Hindus disregard certain
ceremonies, in the celebration of which their forefathers
were most scrupulous. Even the daily ceremonial ablu-
tions, which are all important to a Brahman from a
shastraic point of view, are now neglected by a large
majority, and the prayers (mantrams), which should
be chanted during their performance, are forgotten.

*But no Brahman, orthodox or unorthodox, dares to
abandon the death ceremonial, and annual sradh (memo-
rial rites). A Brahman beggar, when soliciting alms,
invariably pleads that he has to perform his father or
mother's sradh, or upanayanam (thread ceremony) of
his children, and he rarely goes away empty-handed.
" The constant periodical performance," Monier Williams
writes,* " of commemorative obsequies is regarded in the
light of a positive and peremptory obligation. It is the
simple discharge of a solemn debt to one's forefathers, a
debt consisting not only in reverential homage, but in the
performance of acts necessary to their support, happiness,
and progress onwards in the spiritual world. A man's
deceased relatives, for at least three generations, are
among his cherished divinities, and must be honoured

Religious Thought and Life in India.



by daily offerings and adoration, or a nemesis of some
kind is certain to overtake his living family. The object
of a Hindu funeral is nothing less than the investiture of
the departed spirit with an intermediate gross body
a peculiar frame interposed, as it were parenthetically,
between the terrestrial gross body, which has just been
destroyed by fire, and the new terrestrial body, which it
is compelled to ultimately assume. The creation of such
an intervenient frame, composed of gross elements,
though less gross than those of earth, becomes necessary,
because the individualised spirit of man, after the crema-
tion of the terrestrial body, has nothing left to withhold
it from re-absorption into the universal soul, except its
incombustible subtle body, which, as composed of the
subtle elements, is not only proof against the fire of the
funeral pile, but is incapable of any sensations in the
temporary heaven, or temporary hell, through one or
other of which every separate human spirit is forced to
pass before returning to earth, and becoming re-invested
with a terrestrial gross body."

V^hen a Brahman is on the point of death, he is
removed from his bed, and laid on the floor. If there is
any fear of the day being a danishtapanchami (inauspi-
cious), the dying man is taken out of the house, and
placed in the court-yard or pial (raised verandah). Some
prayers are uttered, and a cow is presented (godhanam).
These are intended to render the passage of life through
the various parts of the body as easy as possible. The^
spirit is supposed to escape through one of the nine
orifices of the body, according to the character of the
individual concerned. That of a good man leaves the
body through the brahmarandhra (top of the skull), and
that of a bad man through the anus. Immediately after
death, the body is washed, religious marks are made on


the forehead, and parched paddy and betel are scattered
over and around it by the son. As a Brahman is sup-
posed always to have his fire with him, the sacred fire is
lighted. At this stage, certain purificatory ceremonies
are performed, if death has taken place on a day or hour
of evil omen, or at midnight. Next, a little cooked rice
is cooked in a new earthen pot, and a new cloth is
thrown over the corpse, which is roused by the recitation
of mantrams. Four bearers, to each of whom dharbha
grass is given in token of his office, are selected to carry
the corpse to the burning-ground. The eldest son, who
is the funeral celebrant, and his brothers are shaved.
On ordinary occasions, brothers should not be shaved on
the same day, as this would be inauspicious. They are
only shaved on the same day on the occasion of the death
of their father or mother. The widow of the deceased,
and female relations, go three times round the corpse,
before it is placed on the bier. Very often, at this stage,
all the women present set up a loud lamentation, and
repeat the death songs.* If the dead person was a
respected elder, special professional women, trained as
.mourners, are engaged. I am informed that, in the
Coimbatore district, and amongst the Sathyamangalam
Brahacharanams, there are certain widows who are pro-
fessional mourners. As soon as they hear of the death
of an elder, they repair to the house, and worry the
bereaved family into engaging them for a small fee. The
space, which intervenes between the dead man's house
and the burning-ground, is divided into four parts.
When the end of the first of these is reached, the corpse
is placed on the ground, and the sons and nephews go
round it, repeating mantrams. They untie their kudumis

* See Thurston, Ethnographic Notes in Southern India, 1906, pp. 229 37.


(hair knot), leaving part thereof loose, tie up the rest
into a small bunch, and keep on slapping their thighs.
[When children at play have their kudumi partially tied,
and slap their thighs, they are invariably scolded, owing
to the association with funerals.] A little cooked rice is
offered to the path as a pathi bali (wayside offering), to
propitiate evil spirits, or bhuthas. The same ceremonial
should, strictly speaking, be performed at two other
spots, but now-a-days it is the custom to place the corpse
on the ground near the funeral pyre, moving its position
three times, while the circumambulation and pathi bali
are gone through only once. As soon as the corpse has
reached the spot where the pyre is, the celebrant of the
rites sprinkles water thereon, and throws a quarter of an
anna on it as the equivalent of purchase of the ground
for cremation. The sacred fire is lighted, and the right
palm of the corpse is touched with a gold coin. The
nine orifices of the body are then smeared with ghl, and
rice is thrown over the corpse, and placed in its mouth.
The son takes a burning brand from the sacred fire, lights
the pyre, and looks at the sun. He then carries a pot
filled with water, having a hole at the bottom through
which the water trickles out, on his shoulders three times
round the corpse, and, at the end of the third round,
throws it down. Then he, and all the relations of the
deceased, squat on the ground, facing east, take up some
dharbha grass, and, cutting it into small fragments with
their nails, scatter them in the air, while repeating some
Vedic verses, which are chanted very loudly and slowly,
especially at the funeral of a respected elder. The cele-
brant then pours a little water on a stone, and sprinkles
himself with it. This is also done by the other relations,
and they pass beneath a bundle of dharbha grass and
twigs of Ficus glomerata held by the purohit (officiating


priest), and gaze for a moment at the sun. Once more
they sprinkle themselves with water, and proceed to a
tank, where they bathe. When they return home, two
rites, called nagna (naked) sradh, and pashana sthapanam
(stone-fixing), are celebrated. The disembodied spirit
is supposed to be naked after the body has been cremated.
To clothe it, offerings of water, with balls of cooked rice,
are made, and a cloth, lamp, and money are given to a
Brahman. Then two stones are set up, one in the house
and the other on the bank of a tank, to represent the
spirit of the deceased. For ten days, libations of water
mixed with gingelly seeds, called tilothakam, and a ball
of cooked rice, must be offered to the stones. The ball
of rice is left for crows to eat. The number of libations
must be seventy-five, commencing with three on the
first day, and increasing the number daily by one. In
addition, three further libations are made daily by dipping
a piece of cloth from the winding-sheet, and rinsing it
over the stone (vasothakam). On the day after crema-
tion, the relations assemble at the burning-ground, and
the son, after extinguishing the burning embers, removes
the fragments of bones from the ashes. The ceremony
is called sanchyanam (gathering). Cooked food is
offered. The bones are thrown into some sacred river,
or buried in the ground. On the tenth day after death,
a large quantity of cooked rice (prabhuthabali) is offered
to the spirit of the dead person, which is believed to grow

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