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FESTIVAL OF CHURRUCK POOJAH.
The crowd on the Meidân was great, and very picturesque. The music consisted chiefly of large
In the midst of this crowd walked and danced the miserable fanatics, torturing themselves in the most horrible manner, and each surrounded by his own particular band of admirers, with music and torches. ****** Their countenances denoted suffering, but they evidently gloried in their patient endurance, and probably were supported by the assurance that they were expiating the sins of the past year by suffering voluntarily, and without a groan, this
agony. We had considerable difficulty in making our way through the crowd; but when we had arrived at a short distance from the scene of action, the coup d'æil was beautifully picturesque, and forcibly reminded me of an English race-course : flags were flying in every
direction-booths were erected with stages for dancing ; the flowing white garments of the natives gave the impression of a numerous assemblage of well-dressed women; and though on a nearer approach their dingy complexions destroyed the illusion, yet the scene lost nothing of its beauty. I never saw in England such a multitude collected together ; but this is one of their most famous festivals, and the people had assembled from all the neighbouring villages. The noise of the music continued till about noon, when the devotees retired to heal their wounds. These are said to be dangerous, and occasionally to prove fatal. One of our servants, a “Musalchee,” or torch-bearer, of the lowest caste, (for it seems that none of a higher sort practise these cruelties,) ran about the house with a small spear through his tongue, begging money from his fellow-servants ; this man appeared stupified with opium, which I am told is generally taken by these poor wretches, to deaden their feelings; and the parts through which the spears are thrust are said to be previously rubbed for a considerable time, till numbness ensues.
In the evening the Bishop walked to the Boitaconnah, the part of the city where the trees for swinging are erected ; they are not suffered to be placed near the European residences. He arrived in time to be a spectator of the whole ceremony. The victim was led, covered with flowers, and without any apparent reluctance, to the foot of the tree : hooks were then thrust through the muscles of his sides, which he endured without shrinking, and a broad bandage was fastened round his waist, to prevent the hooks from being torn through by the weight of his body. He was then raised up, and whirled round; at first the motion was slow, but by degrees was increased to considerable rapidity. In a few minutes it ceased ; and the by-standers were going
FESTIVAL OF CHURRUCK POOJAH.
double drums, ornamented with plumes of black feathers, like those of a hearse, which rose considerably higher than the heads of the
persons who played on them; large crooked trumpets, like the “ litui” of the ancients, and small gongs suspended from a bamboo, which rested on the shoulders of two men, the last of whom played on it, with a large, thick, and heavy drum-stick, or cudgel. All the persons who walked in the procession, and a large majority of the spectators, had their faces, bodies, and white cotton clothes daubed all over with vermilion, the latter to a degree which gave them the appearance of being actually dyed rosecolour. They were also crowned with splendid garlands of flowers, with girdles and baldrics of the same. Many trophies and pageants of different kinds were paraded up and down, on stages drawn by horses, or bullocks. Some were mythological, others were imitations of different European figures, soldiers, ships, &c. and, in particular, there was one very large model of a steam-boat. The devotees went about with small spears through their tongues and arms, and still more with hot irons pressed against their sides. All were naked to the waist, covered with flowers, and plentifully raddled with vermilion, while their long, black, wet hair hung down their backs, almost to their loins. From time to time, as they passed us, they laboured to
to let him down, when he made signs that they should proceed : this resolution was received with great applause by the crowd, and after drinking some water he was again spun round.--Extract from the Editor's Journal.
seem to dance, but in general their step was slow, their countenances expressive of resigned and patient suffering, and there was no appearance, that I saw, of any thing like frenzy or intoxication. The peaceableness of the multitude was also as remarkable as its number; no troops were visible, except the two sentries, who at all times keep guard on two large tanks in the Meidân; no police, except the usual“ Chokeydar,” or watchman', at his post, near Allypoor Bridge ; yet nothing like quarrelling or rioting occurred, and very little scolding. A similar crowd in England would have shewn three boxing matches in half an hour, and in Italy there would have been half a dozen assassinations before night. In the evening I walked in another direction, towards the Boitaconnah, and the streets chiefly occupied by natives. Here I saw the “ swinging," which may be best understood from a sketch, however rude.
April 15.-The weather is now very hot, unusually so, as we are told, owing to the want of that refreshment which north-westers usually bestow at this time of year, but my wife and I, by rising at four o'clock, continue to enjoy a delightful ride every morning, though by a little after six the sun is so hot as to drive us in again. We have tried to keep our rooms cool with “tatties," which are mats formed of the kuskos, a peculiar sweet
· These watchmen are less numerous, and not more efficient than their brethren in the streets of London. They do not cry the hour, but proclaim their wakefulness by uttering loud howls from time to time. They are armed with pistol, sword, and shield.--Ed.