Thursday, February 9, 2023

The People

Religious Practices

Sacraments among Hindus

The Samskaras (sacraments) begin to be observed right from the day of conception signaled by Garbhadana or conception of foetus in the womb of the woman. Usually the birth of the first child has to take place in the woman's mothers home called kular in konkani. Before the woman is sent to her mothers home, a ceremony known as fulam malop (adorn the coiffure with flowers) is held in the 5th, 7th and 9th months of pregnancy. The first two flower-bedecking are held at the husband's house. In the 5th month, her lap is filled with green clothes. 

On the sixth day from the birth of the child there is a ceremony called Sotti or Shastipujan. On that night there is the honouring of the female deity called Sottvai and the whole night resounds to the beat of the 'ghumott', which is a special local percussion instrument made from a mud-pot.

A ten day's period of seclusion is observed when the woman just delivered, is prevented from touching things that matter. On the 11th day, the delivered woman is bathed and offered panchagavya consisting of cow's urine, tulsi leaves, cow-dung etc. 'Homa' is held and water from the tulsi plant is brought into the house and sprinkled on house-hold things for the purpose of purification and the delivered woman given an offering of coconut, sweet preparation in liquid-paste form called godshem, puris, rice, moong etc. The umbilical cord is buried in some place in the backyard. 

On the twelfth day the child's Barso i.e. the naming ceremony is performed. Married women (with husbands living) meet and fill up the lap of the delivered woman with flowers and gifts. The child is placed in the cradle and bestowed a name. Normally, three names including a surname are given. The first being the proper name of the boy or girl, the second being the father's name and the third being the surname.

When the child cuts its first tooth, there is a function to celebrate the occasion with food etc. This is known as datolem ghalop (cutting of tooth). Little puris, biscuits and items of snacks are strewn over the head of the child and distributed to the children gathered all around. This practice is on the decline these days. Wherever it is prevalent the Vodde (puri-type) have been replaced by chocolate, toffee, peppermint etc. 

Munj or Upanayana is done among the Saraswats, Daivednya (goldsmiths), Vanis, Kshatriya etc. It is not done among the Sudra communities. Formerly the Upanayana used to be performed between the ages of 8 and 10. Marriages do not take place before the performance of the Munj ceremony. Munj has sometimes to be performed on the eve of the marriage. Upanayana was meant to usher in the period of education of a student.

The last Samskara among the Hindus is the funeral rite or Antyesti at the death of a person. After the death of a person, a period of 12 days mourning observance is adhered to. On the 10th day after death, a homa is prepared at home and panchagavya done for purification. On the 12th day, there is the Baravo on which day there is the performance of the Shraddha Vidhan ceremony of the passing away of the person concerned and offerings are given to the public and food to the priests. There used to be a practice to have the Shraddha as bharni-shraddha, monthly Shraddha and yearly Shraddha. Now only the annual Shraddha is observed.