« PreviousContinue »
and always carries a goad; and it comforts his heart' to see Sambar and other deer, and to visit the Uḍa rata, the Upper-country. It is not unlikely that some sovereign or chief of the Vaeddas has been canonised (or possibly two legends have been united), and identified as a son of Mōhini. Mangalya Dēyiyā evidently is the God Mangala, whom Mr. Nevill mentioned1 as being anciently worshipped in the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts. He stated that when offerings were presented to him invocations were addressed to a number of deities called by Tamils' The 160 Vatanamār,' who were subject to his orders. He remarked that ' Mangala was specially invoked by elephant-hunters and by wild buffalo hunters.' He learnt from the hymns to him that 'both they [the chiefs] and their subjects, these votaries of Mangala, evidently came from the Malabar coast, and followed the Nayik custom of inheritance of ancestral property in the male [female] line.' Here is another practice which points to the early Nayar connection with the people of Ceylon. Mr. Nevill considered this god to be a personification of the influence of the seven or nine planets conjointly'; but on reading over the two hymns which are given by him it seems to me clear that the God Mankala in whose honour they are composed is shown by his name Nāyinār in them, and his vāhana, an elephant, to be Ayiyanār, as an avatāra or incarnation of a part of Vishnu. One of the names of Ayiyanar is Nāyanār, according to Winslow's Tamil dictionary. Vishnu, as the husband of Lakshmi, who is termed Mankalei in Tamil, is called Mankalanār, a title given to his son also in these hymns. The second hymn begins :-" I sing the sacred story of the glorious Mankalārs [Vishnu and Ayiyanār]. O Sankāra [Siva] of vast Kayilāsa ! graciously aid me to sing the praise of Narayana [Vishnu] on the ever-writhing snake-couch."
The first hymn relates the capture of the elephant which became Ayiyanār's vāhana, and part of it is so interesting as giving a description of the god that I quote it :
Mankalanar came and rose forth from a beauteous lotus flower, at the white-lotus flowering, bliss-giving, great city
1 The Taprobanian, Vol. i, p. 54.
called Kasi, called Mulam. At that very time was the Ava-tāram of Mankalanar. When Nayinār was born at the aus-picious hour, all came and worshipped the Mankalar.
'When twelve years fulfilled had passed by, wearing thrice three jewels [the nine gems], and assuming the triple-twisted cord [the sacred thread] Nayinār was seated, with bow, arrow, javelin, strong cord, axe, nāga-like-cane like a goodly circlet, with girdle, indescribably-flowered clothing, girt with a curved club, and wearing a gem-set ring and ear-rings, with goodly coat and hat; wearing all these Mankalanār was seated!' The capture of the elephant by noosing it is then described, and the hymn ends, they bathed it for beauty in the whitelotus-flowered pond. Placing on its feet bangles, on its neck bells, on its body spreading white cloth and so forth, they brought it. Wearing a coat, wearing a cloth, wearing a hat, putting on a crown, like the Katpakam grove surrounded by the Ganges, surrounded on all sides, he was pleased to become seated.'
In this story Kāsi, that is, Benāres, is mentioned as the birthplace of Nayanār, and the account of his origin is quite different from those previously given.
I made no inquiry into the demonology of the Wanniyas ; but it may be accepted as certain that, like the Sinhalese and Vaeddas, they are acquainted with a long array of evil spirits.
THE commonest religious ceremony of the Village Vaeddas is performed on the occasion of their setting out on one of their hunting excursions, of which it, or an allied ceremony, is the invariable preliminary. This is a prayer for protection and success in hunting, offered to a deity, usually the Indigollaēwa Kiri-Ammā, whose powers are supposed to be specially manifested in the forests. It is always accompanied by offerings of food made according to a simple fixed ritual. For this purpose a trained intermediary or priest is not needed; any member of the hunting party who knows the form of prayer which is necessary temporarily undertakes the office.
The Vaeddas of the interior villages prepare a covered shrine resting on four sticks, under a large shady tree. The bottom of the shrine is made at a height of about four feet from the ground; it is nearly two feet square, with a roof arched over from side to side and the front open, but not the back. It is covered with grass on the top and has the walls enclosed by leafy twigs. The inside is lined with white calico, if available. Similar frames or temporary shrines are erected by the Sinhalese for holding offerings to evil or beneficent deities.
Inside this are laid on separate green leaves the best foods they possess-fresh meat of some kind, Rice boiled with Coconut-milk if obtainable, small cakes of Rice-flour or Millet, some bits of Coconut if they have them, and a little water in a piece of Coconut shell. A few red flowers of the Ratmal tree (Ixora coccinea), or Eramudu tree (Erythrina indica) are also placed inside the shrine before the offering; and in front of all a wick made of a bit of rag saturated with fat is fixed in anything available—often a piece of Coconut husk. Lustration of water is made in front of the shrine, and obeisance is performed to the offerings with the hands raised in front of
the face and the palms touching each other. This is the dedication of the offerings.
The wick is now lighted, and the officiator turns aside until it expires. He then steps in front of the shrine, and dances there slowly, holding an arrow in his hand, after which he says loudly "Aybō! Aybō! Aybō! Indigollāe Kiri-Ammē ! Hail! Hail! Hail! (literally, 'may life be long '), O Indigollaewa KiriAmma! Eat. Drink. Give us livelihood. Give us meat got by hunting. Do not cause us to meet with the Elephant. Do not cause us to meet with the Bear. Do not cause us to meet with the Leopard. You must make us a livelihood by (means of) the Pangolin. You must make us a livelihood by (means of) the 'Iguana.' You must make us a livelihood by (means of) the Monkey. We must meet with the Sambar deer. We must meet with the Pig. To the end while going, to the end while coming back, you must promote and give livelihood and protection, O our esteemed Goddess."
When the offerings are made to the Gange Baṇḍāra, the River Deity, the hunters first fix a day for them, and give notice to a professional devil-priest, termed a Kapuwā, who purifies himself by bathing on the three days preceding the ceremony. The offerings consist only of Betel-leaves, Areka-nut cut in pieces, and a little water. In fact, the deity is merely offered the usual chew' of Betel-the eastern form of the Stirrupcup-before the hunters set out. The shrine is erected as in the preceding case, but lined with a torn cloth. This ceremony may take place anywhere; there is no fixed site for it. After presenting the offering, and lighting one wick, and dancing, the Kapuwā repeats the same prayer as before, simply changing the address to the Gange Baṇḍāra instead of the Goddess.
When going only to collect honey they usually say aloud for the information of the deities, "We are going to cut a hive for the Yakās." In their own interests the deities are then expected to see that the men are successful. On their return, some present part of the honey they have obtained, and cooked rice if they can provide it, to the Kataragama God. Many offer the honey to the Kiri-Ammā; but if they have found
very little they punish her by withholding this offering, apparently without fearing any act of reprisal on her part.
Village Vaeddas who know more Sinhalese, as well as the neighbouring Sinhalese villagers, place the offerings in a similar shrine, lined with a white cloth, and use a longer prayer to the Kiri-Ammā. It is made so I was informed, but this may be a mistake—before the lights expire, two being set in the shrine, one for the Goddess and the other for her husband, the Galē Yakā. The prayer was repeated for me as follows, the utterer holding an arrow in his hand while saying it :— "Aybō! Aybō! Aybō! O Indigollāēwa Kiri-Ammā, who became famous through splitting the Sapphire Gem at the Sapphire Mountain1 in the country of the Seven Seas, and even the country beyond it! While you are looking at this beautiful cooked food this is our supplication, telling you to give a good Sambar deer, having caught it with this Vaedi arrow. O my KiriAmmā! This is our supplication asking you for a good Hornbearer 2 [Sambar deer], for a Speckled One [Axis deer], for a Fat-maker [Pig], for a Meat-bearer [Buffalo] to be daily placed for us."
When the same people pray for honey an identical formula is used up to the word' food,' after which it runs :-" This is our supplication, telling you, O Indigollāēwa Kiri-Ammā to grant your loving favour, giving us a bee-hive until our eye is blind." The concluding part is a common saying among village Sinhalese; its meaning here is even more than we can
In order to avoid dangerous animals, and the difficulties of the path, they say after 'food,' "This is our supplication telling you, O Indigollāēwa Kiri-Ammā! to grant your loving favour, beating and driving afar Leopards, Elephants, enclosing and filling up hollows, blunting pointed stones,
1 Alaka, on Mt. Kailāsa, the home of the Yaksha sovereign Kuvēra. In the Meghadūta (Ouvry), v. 76, the exiled Yaksha says, "On the banks of this (lake) is a beautiful mountain for sport, whose summit, composed of sapphires, is worthy to be seen on account of its being enclosed by golden plantains."
2 These names of animals belong to the Kaelē-bāsa, and not the Vaedi dialect.