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(No. 4.) This very singular Palmyra I discovered accidentally in the midst of a thick boundary fence of common Palmyra trees, belonging to the village of Dhirmaram, near the sea coast, and about 54 miles south easterly from Chicacole
The most respectable inhabitants of the village say that this tree is about 25 years old. It is considered by them a barren tree, from not having yet produced fruit although they affirm that another tree precisely of this description in the village of Darsam about 15 miles distant, bears fruit which is eatable. The leaves are like those of the common Palmyras, and are periodically cut from the large stems, and used for covering the roofs of houses.
The natives do not.perform any ceremony before this tree, aithough from its singular construction, and the central cluster containing at least one hundred small heads, they hold it sacred, con. ceiving that it must contain some holy hidden mystery.
Excepting in its many heads it differs iu no respect from the common Palmyra.
The height of the tallest stem is 18 feet.
The within drawings give the appearance of the tree on each side of the fence. CHICACOLE,
W. S. BOWLER, Major 1st February, 1826.
Supt. of Roads N. D.
III.-An account of the Hindoo Holy days and Festivals, by Venket
Row, late Interpreter to the Officer Commanding Vellore, with
considerable alterations and additions by the Editor. (Read at a meeting of the M. L, S. & A. R. A. S. held on the 21st Feb. 1833.)
It is necessary to premise that the Teloogoo year consists of a certain number of lunar months reckoned from new moon to new moon, and the Tamil year, of solar months, containing as many days and parts of days, as the sun stays in each sign of the zodiac. To prevent confusion, the solar festivals and the feasts governed by the lunar Calendar have been treated of in the following pages under distinct heads.
Feasts governed by the lunar Calendar. 1. Oogady Pundaga—The first day of the increasing moon in the lunar month Chaitra is the commencement of the Teloogoo year. The Teloogoo people celebrate its return as a holiday by offering, (after having anointed themselves and bathed) the flower of the margosa tree (melia azadirachta) with tamarind juice and sugar to their house-hold deities and afterwards partaking of the same themselves. Alms are distributed among the poor and during the day they divert and regale themselves in the hope of being happy through the year, as they believe their happiness during the year depends on the manner in which they begin it.
2. Stree Rama Navamy-The ninth day of the increasing moon of the same month Chaitra, is the anniversary of the incarnation of Vishnoo in the form of Rama. This festival lasts nine days, and is celebrated with great pomp in the temples of Vishnoo. Each evening the God goes in procession through the streets, on different vehicles, and on the return of the procession, they expose him in a muntapam, or stone choultry of the temple, to receive the adorations and offerings of the people.
3. Chittera Pourname--The day of full moon in the month Chaitra is celebrated by making offerings of boiled rice, milk and jaggery in honor of Chitragoopta the Secretary of Yama who records the vices and virtues of mankind. On this occasion the Hindoos observe the religious fast or okaproddoo as it is called by the Telingas “ eating but one meal."
4. Narasimhajagenti~The fourteenth day of the second lunar month Vaisaca, is the anniversary of Vishnoo's avatara or the descent of that deity, in the shape of a man with the head and claws of a lion with a view to the destruction of the giant Heranneacasap. The Hindoos pray to the deity and distribute among the bramins, water in which jaggery has been dissolved, together with bits of cocoanut and beetlenuts. The devout bramins fast on this day. This feast is likewise observed in the temples of Vishnoo. It lasts nine days and processions are made provided any person will be at the expense.
5. Vyasa Pavernami— The day of full moon in the 4th lunar month Ashadha, is kept in commemoration of Vyasa, the celebrated saint and founder of the védanta philosophy.
6. Nagachouty-The 4th day of the increasing moon in the fifth lunar month shrávana is dedicated to the performance of nagapooja which consists in pouring milk into a snake's hole and putting flowers and perfumes upon it. Females are generally charged with this ceremony.
7. Garooda Punchami—The 5th day of the same lunar month is also dedicated to the worship of the serpent of Vishnoo.
8. Varu Lucshmi Vrúttum- This holy day is always kept on the Friday which precedes the full moon of the same lunar month
and is devoted to the worship of Lutchmy or the Goddess of prosperity. The Hindoos who may have once kept it, contract an obligation to celebrate it perpetually both themselves and their descendants. The women on this occasion tie a thread of yellow cotton round the right wrist.
9. Oopacurmam—This feast is observed by the bramins on the day when the moon is in the constellation Shravana in the month of Shravana by beginning to read the Rig-veda. The young unmarried bramins have their heads shaved and all who wear the sacerdotal thread bathe themselves in the tanks or rivers and there throw off their old strings and take new ones. This day is also dedicated to ask pardon of God, for the sins committed, during the course of the year.
10. Crishnajayenty-The eighth day of the decreasing moon of the lunar month Shravana, is the anniversary of Vishnoo's incarnation in the form of Crishna—and is celebrated both in the houses of the Hindoos and also in the Pagodas of Vishnoo. The Hindoos form various figures out of clay representing Crishna and his family and worship them during the night when they observe a fast. In the Pagodas, the festival is celebrated for nine days during which the image of Vishnoo, is carried in procession through the streets. This festival is particularly observed by the shepherds in commemoration of Chrishna's having been brought up amongst them. They erect porches or pandals of cocoanut leaves and of cloth at the doors of the temples, and in some of the cross-ways. In the middle of these pandals a cocoanut is hung, in which there is a piece of money. This cocoanut hangs by a string, one end of which is inside the pandal, that it may be drawn up and down at pleasure. The cast of shepherds, or at least all those who still adhere to ancient customs, walk in procession through the streets, and when they come to these porches, to entitle them to pass them they are obliged to break the cocoanut with sticks, which those within endeavour to prevent by pulling it up and down, and by throwing water in their faces. This water is mixed with turmerick powder.
11. Venayaca Chaturthe--On the fourth day of the increasing moon of the 6th month Bhadrapada, is the festival of Venayaca Chaturthe, which is celebrated in the houses of Hindoos as well as in the Pagodas of Seevah. Venayaca is the deity of wisdom, and remover of obstacles, whence in the commencement of all undertakings, the opening of all compositions, &c., he receives the reverential homage of the Hindoos. He is represented as a
short fat man, with the head of an elephant. The Hindoos ubserve the demi fast and for the celebration of the festival purchase an image of Venayaca made of dried earth (some times painted) which they carry home to perform the ordinary ceremonies to it. The next day, or any other day this idol is carried out of the city or village and flung into a tank or well. Those who chuse to be at the expence, put the image upon a pompous chariot accompanied by dancing girls and musicians, others have it carried on man's head. The Hindoos try their best to avoid seeing the moon that night under a belief that in the event of doing so they will be charged with some false accusation during the year, because Crishna who neglected this rule was falsely accused in his childhood of having stolen a golden gem from Prassana.
12. Rishe Punchami—The fifth day of the increasing moon of the same month is the festival in which the memory of the seven great saints is commemorated. Women of an advanced age are in general charged with the performance of the ceremony, which consists in ornamenting and worshipping seven stones intended to represent the sages. They are obliged to fast the whole day and night on the occasion,
13. Ananta vrutun-- This festival occurs on the 14th day of the increasing moon in the same month. It is celebrated in honor of Vishnoo under the epithet of Ananta or infinite. He is likewise known by the name of Anantapudmanabhaswamy. Those who keep it take but one meal and tie a red silk string on the right arm. The only vessel they use on this occasion is of copper plaistered all round with lime, and covered with a cocoanut, on which they put some mango leaves and flowers. This festival, as well as that of Varalutchmee vratum, in the month of Shravana, and of Kadaury vratum in Aswirja is not obligatory: but having once kept it, the celebration always must be continued. Even the posterity of those who have observed it are subject to this law, till they get released from their tacit vow. It is at Anantasanum alone or Tervendrum in the Cochin country on the malabar coast (where this divinity has his most celebrated temple) that a release from the vow to observe this festival can be obtained; for this effect ablutions and purifications are repeated for several days, and besides it costs a large sum of money.
* According to the Pudma Pooranum, this festival is celebrated in honor of Vishnoo alone, but in the Hurivumsa of the Bharatum it is said to be held in honor of Vishnoo, Bramah, and Seevah, who are worshipped under the figure of a serpent, with a thousand heals.' Ed:
14. Mahalayaputcha-The holy days of Mahalayaputcha which last for 15 days commence on the 1st day of the decreasing moon of the 6th lunar month Bhadrapada. It is celebrated only in the houses, in honor of deceased ancestors, while it lasts they make the Turpanum * for them, and give alms to the bramins either in money, clothes, (linen) or even in rice and vegetables &c.
15. Navaratri or Dusserah-On the first day of the increasing moon of the 7th month Aswija this grand festival commences and lasts nine days. After the Pongall, it is the most celebrated festival. Processions and public ceremonies are made in the pagodas while it lasts. The school boys properly dressed, walk through the streets, accompanied by their masters. They stop at the houses of great men, and sing verses composed in their praise, and also play Kolatums + with small painted sticks; where they get money to amuse themselves, and their masters also get great presents. It is at this time that the grand festival at the Terooputy pagoda is celebrated.
16. Saraswati Poojah--This festival which is in fact a part of the foregoing is observed on the day when the moon is in the constellation Moola. It is on this day that the Auyooda Pooja is performed, which means the ceremony of arms or instruments. Each person collects all the arms he has, or the instruments of his trade and exposes
them unsheathed in a chamber well cleaned ; and all his books and musical instruments. The officiating bramin comes to perform the ceremonies. He takes water in a small cup and first presents it to the Gods; then with mango leaves, he sprinkles all the vehicles and animals belonging to the house, and even the books and vessels, if the owner of the house has any. The eight first days of the Navaratri are consecrated to Siva and Vishnoo; but the ninth day is devoted to the honor of the three Goddesses, Parvatee, I Lutehmee, I and Saraswatee. $ The first is represented by the emblem of arms, as the destructive Goddess; the second by the carriages, boats, and animals, as the Goddess of riches, and the third by the books and musical instruments, as Goddess of languages and the fine arts. The Auyooda Pooja is a feast so sacred, that if a Hindoo is attacked on the day of its celebration, he will not take arms to defend himself. It is related that the general of
* A religious rite, presenting water to the manes of the deceased. Wilson
+ A kind of play with small pieces of sticks, in which dancing girls or school boys, by moving in different directions, plait into one rope separate strings held in one hand, while they keep time, by beating the sticks held in the other, against each other, Campbell.
$ Wife of Seeva, Goddess of riches. f Goddess of learning.