Friday, August 17, 2018
Himachal Pradesh

Himachal People

Common Customs

Sacrifices

Animal sacrifices are performed in order to reap a good harvest or to save a good crop from destruction by the evil forces. When the crop is ready for harvesting, a black goat is led around the fields and sacrificed. The meat of the goat is then distributed in the village as a holy 'prasad of the gods'. Sometimes to propitiate Yakshas, saints, goddesses or family gods, people perform a Jatra.

In this a whole family along with all its numerous relatives leaves in a procession to the temple of the deity all dressed up, singing devotional songs. They carry along with them foodstuff of all kinds and the sacrificial goat. The drummer and the flag are also a part of the procession. As the women folk sing Jatra songs along the way, an old woman makes little signs on the road, shaped like footprints. These are known as 'Leekhnu'.

As the procession reaches the deity's temple, first the puja is performed and then all the family members sprinkle water on the sacrificial goat and at the same time urging the deity to accept the gift of the animal. When the animal gives his body a shake, it is taken as a sigh from the deity signifying his acceptance. If the goat does not shiver, it is taken to be a sign of the deity's wrath and people begin praying .When the ritual is over the goat is sacrificed. The meat is then cooked and served. The party spends the night in the temple premises singing songs and asking questions about sickness and crops of the devotees on whom the spirit of the deity is said to descend. In the morning after offering puja the group comes back to the village.

Earlier it was customary to perform a human sacrifice at the time of the building of a canal, a water tank or a bridge. But this is obsolete now and animal sacrifice has replaced human sacrifice. Some people who object to bloodshed offer sweets and other articles to the deity.

In Malana (Kulu) and Dodra Kwar (Mahasu) the twin deities Jamlu and Mahasu are unquestionably considered as the rulers of the area. Nothing is done here without consulting them and obtaining their permission.

At the time of harvesting, feasts are offered to the deities especially to Baba. Trees are also considered holy. On fast days the women folk worship the Peepal, the Banyan, the Mango and the Pomegranate trees and offer clothes and all kinds of delicacies to them. The Banyan tree is worshipped on the day of the Vata Savitri fast. The pomegranate tree is worshipped at the time of weddings. Friendships are also formed beneath this tree by formally appointing the trees as the witness. When the new grains have been harvested, young virgins (kanya) are fed and relatives feasted and certain traditional delicacies like kheer and halwa are cooked.

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