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beating and driving afar Serpents, giving livelihood and protection in the forest, and [making up] all deficiency."
Among the southern Village Vaeddas, and in the adjoining Sinhalese districts, offerings of the first-fruits obtained by hunting are made in a similar way, with one light, to the Kukulāpola Kiri-Ammā. They consist of fresh meat and honey.
To the seven Kiri-Ammās of the south, a single offering is made in the same kind of shrine when the men are about to leave on a hunting expedition, and also when children are sick or fretful. If they are procurable, it consists of milkrice (rice boiled in Coconut milk), Jak-fruit, the flower-bud of the Plantain tree (which is used in curries), Betel-leaf and sliced Areka-nut, Sugar-cane, and a little Sandal-wood.
In this case, the shrine is subdivided into seven compartments in which seven leaves are placed on a white cloth, one for each Goddess; and on each of them a small portion of each kind of offering is laid. Water is sprinkled over these articles, and in front of the shrine, and the offering is also purified by incense (a resinous gum which exudes from the bark of the Dum tree), which is burnt on a fire-stick, and waved round it. A wick is then placed near each end of the offering and lit. After the lights have expired, the offerer takes a Betel-leaf in his right hand, between the first two fingers, and waves it from side to side in front of the shrine, and then, still holding it, makes a long prayer to the seven Goddesses, which I had no opportunity of writing down.
When children are ill, and the parents do not possess things suitable for giving to these seven deities, or the time is inauspicious, or there is not an opportunity of doing it (as in the case of a sudden violent attack), they make a vow to present an offering to them; and hang up a bārē, a visible token of the forthcoming sacrifice. There is no magic, as some have supposed, in this act ; a bārē, which has various forms according to the personage to whom the offering is to be made, is like an engagement ring in Europe, and is invariably necessary among all Sinhalese when a vow to present an offering has been made. It must not be removed on any account
until the vow has been accomplished. In the present instance it consists of a Mango-leaf and a strip of Palmira-palm leaf, strung on a thread, which is then tied across the doorway of the hut. On one side of the Palmira leaf are written the words 'Paṭṭa-Giri, Bāla-Girī, Mōlan-Giri,' probably to indicate that the child is to be specially guarded against the evil actions of the female demons who bear those names.
Among the Kandian Sinhalese, Giri is the feminine form or Sakti of a class of demons, twelve or more in number, called Garā (plural Gaerae or Garayō), who afflict only women and children. The word gara means sickness or disease, and is derived from the Sanskrit root grah, to seize; these demons are thus personifications of certain diseases.
In this case, the offering, as described above, is usually made after the child has recovered, or as soon as the requisite articles for it can be procured; but sometimes, as when an infant has been fretful in the night, it is presented on the following day, if possible.
Respecting the ceremonies used in presenting offerings to the Bilindu Yako, Mr. Nevill merely remarked, 'The offerings are those, omitting rice, still used in India and Ceylon at the festival of Pongal, in honour of the January sun. The symbol used is the arrow.' 1
Mr. Nevill observed concerning the religious ceremonies of the Vaeddas: In almost all their religious rites the arrow is used; it receives worship as an emblem, or is waved in the hands of the celebrant, around the sacrifice.
'They leave tiny babes upon the sand for hours together, with no other guard than an arrow, stuck in the ground by their side. Their belief in the efficiency of this has received no shock. They never knew such a child to be attacked by wild beasts, pigs, leopards, jackals, etc., or harmed. They say, "Are we not the children of our Gods, and if we leave our child under their care will they not watch over it?" The arrow being the God's symbol, they themselves are practically, as his children, the iya-vans, or "sons of the arrow," and this fully accounts for the name Yaka or Yakkho,' [that is, as 1 The Taprobanian, Vol. i, p. 195.
I have already stated, iya-kō, arrow-persons. I have previously expressed my opinion of this derivation; I may add that the Vaeddas never claim to be called either Yakās or Iyakās].
Offerings of food are made by the Tamil-speaking Vaeddas to their deceased relatives, excluding infants. As the manner in which they make the gifts was certainly not derived from their Tamil neighbours, this ceremony may have been developed by their ancestors in ancient times, although its absence elsewhere shows that it is not a primitive one. The offering is first made seven days after the death, and subsequently once a year, after the Hindu custom.
A shrine like that already described is erected under a shady tree in the jungle. It is from three to five feet high and is usually, but not always, arched over; it is lined with a white cloth. The foods placed in it are cooked meat if available, cooked rice, Betel-leaves, Areka-nuts, and Plantains. Of course they are purified by lustration. In front of the offering one wick is lighted inside the shrine. Tom-toms are beaten loudly to attract the notice of the deceased person, and a dance is performed in front of the offering in his honour, after which the officiating relative merely says, "Lord, eat and go." The party then return home.
The ceremony of the offering to the Seven Kannimār is said to be quite similar, the shrine having, as in the case of the seven Kiri-Ammās of the South, seven compartments, one for each Goddess, whose share of the food is thus given separately. I do not know the prayers addressed to them. An arrow is certain to be held by the dancer.
Regarding the manner in which offerings and invocations are made for propitiating the various evil demons of the Vaeddas, I regret that I have no information, my visits to their district having been too short to permit me to collect the particulars. Those who live in the forests informed me that they are accustomed to place offerings of food for them in shallow hollows in the surface of rocks. This matter has now been investigated by Dr. Seligmann.
When the Wanniyas are about to set out on a hunting trip they first purify themselves on the preceding day by bathing
in their little village tank, and then perform the following ceremony to ensure success in their expedition, no women being allowed to see it.
Under a large tree at the foot of the embankment of their tank, one of the party, who becomes the temporary officiator or priest, cleans, by pounding, four quarts of paddy (rice in its husk), and boils the rice so obtained. Others fix in the ground three sticks in a triangle, with a platform in it well above the ground level. The boiled rice is placed in a new earthenware pot, or 'chatty,' which is deposited by the celebrant (who alone performs the whole ceremony), on the frame, resting on the tops of the sticks; and a little saffron is sprinkled on the rice.
On the little platform below the pot seven Betel leaves are next arranged in a circle, with their points together, and an Areka-nut is put on each; a pinch of Camphor is also placed near the outer end of each leaf, a light is applied to it, and it is burnt.
Water is then taken in a washed gourd, or new 'chatty' (or pot) and with the hand a little is sprinkled three times on the ground in front of the offerings. Dummala incense is next laid on a fire-stick, and while it is burning the stick is waved round the platform and the pot of rice. The officiator now steps back, and with his palms joined in front of his face pays obeisance to the offering by bowing to it three times. This completes the dedication.
He next takes three wicks soaked in fat, one of which he fixes on the end of an upright stick set in the ground in front of the frame, so as to be higher than the pot of rice, and the other two he arranges on the ground on each side of the taller one. The three are then lighted. Before they expire he walks aside, and turns his face away until they have completely ceased burning. After this he returns, and again sprinkles water three times in front of the frame.
He now raises his joined hands, and standing in front of the offering three times repeats the following invocation :"You, O Wanniyā Baṇḍāra [? Ayiyanār] are required to take the offering of a feast of cooked food. Wanniya Baṇḍāra, we
must meet with the Royal Great Hive; we must meet with Horns; we must not meet with an Elephant, a Bear; we must not meet with a Snake; we must meet with livelihood."
The celebrant then removes the offering, of which all the hunting party partake.
On the return from their expedition the same offering is repeated in the same manner; but the officiator merely says, Wanniya Baṇḍāra, we met with a livelihood."
Hunting parties of the Kandian Sinhalese of the Northcentral Province perform a ceremony which is very similar to that of the Wanniyas and Vaeddas, when about to leave their village on one of their expeditions in the forest. Under a large shady tree they prepare a maessa, or small covered shrine, which is raised about three feet off the ground, and is open only in front; it is supported on four sticks set in the ground.
In this they offer the following articles if available, or as many as possible of them :-One hundred Betel leaves, one hundred Areka-nuts, Limes, Oranges, Pine-apples, Sugarcane, a head of Plantains, a Coconut, two quarts of rice boiled specially at the site of the offering, and silver and gold. Also the flowers of the Areka-nut tree, the Coconut, and Ratmal tree. All are purified by lustration and incense, as usual, and dedicated.
They then light a small lamp at the front of the offering, and remain there watching it until it expires, differing in this respect from the practice of the Wanniyas, who must never see the light go out.
Before the light expires they perform obeisance towards the offering, and utter aloud the following prayer for the favour and protection of the Forest Deities, which must also be repeated every morning during the expedition, after their millet cake, gini-pūwa, has been eaten, before starting for the day's hunting :
"This is for the favour of the God Ayiyanar; for the favour of the Kiri-Amma, for the favour of the Kataragama God [Skanda]; for the favour of the Kalu Dēvatā; for the favour of Kambili