Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Madhya Pradesh

The People



Birth

The birth of a male child in a family is regarded as the fulfillment of an obligation due to ancestors. The annoucement is made by beating a thali (metal dish).

Songs are sung by the womenfolk and sweets are distributed among them. On the ninth or the eleventh day after the child's birth, the sun god is worshipped by the mother and the child is brought out to see its rays. The rituals is called Suraj  Puja.

If it is a male child, conventional designs symbolising the foot mark of the child and toys etc called Paglia, are drawn on a piece of paper and sent through a village barber to the nearest kins living in other villages as a mark of good news and in return the barber brings back clothes and ornaments for the mother and the newly born child.

Death

The dead bodies are generally cremated, by the Hindus. In case of unnatural death the corpse is buried by the Hindus. Among the Gonds the deceased is buried, but the Raj Gonds prefer to burn the corpse. Sanyasis and infants are given the earth. The cremation takes place by the stream and the ashes are submerged in sacred waters. The death of an elderly person is mourned by all the relatives. The close ones are expected to show extra respect to the dead by shaving off their heads.

 Fire to the funeral pyre is given by the dead man's son or by some elder person of the family. On the pyre ghee is poured during the burning process of the corpse as a rite intended for removing the death pollution. Usually on the thirteenth day following the cremation, final oblations are offered to the dead and the house is cleaned with cow-dung as a mark of restoration of normal routine in the family. The practice of death-dinner called Nukta is an important custom observed by almost all classes in Madhya Pradesh on this day with minor variation.

 An interesting feature of the Dhurwas of Bastar is the practice of khilawan. A ceremony is held ten days after a man's death to give ' a leaf earring' to his widow. The earring may be given by any earning member of the family or an outsider to confirm that the woman will be protected by him. If  Khilawan is observed by the younger brother of the deceased and he gives a leaf earring to the woman, then the woman has to go with him as his wife.

 The bison-horn Marias have many strange customs. If a child below the age of five has died, he is buried in an erect position. Among them, a corpse is laid down with his head to the east. Women put a pinch of tobacco in his mouth and weep bitterly, very often falling upon his bamboo bier. Before a dead man is taken for cremation, they are supposed to do several strange things for which they have their own logic. The master of the funeral ceremony is conventionally the Gaita but it is the sisters son of the deceased who has to do many more things.

 He takes a stick and measures straight upwards from the corpse's chest to the roof, poking the stick through the thatch. Then he climbs up to the roof and makes a hole which is intended symbolically to allow the message of death to spread throughout the world. He puts his dhol drum above the hole, waves a stick thrice round his head and then beats his drum.

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