« PreviousContinue »
Unnaehae ; for the favour of Ilandāri Dēvată Unnaehae; for the favour of Kaḍawara Dēvatā Unnaehae; for the favour of Galē Baṇḍāra; for the favour of the Hat Rajjuruwō.
"We are going to your jungle (uyana); we do not want to meet with even a single kind of [dangerous] wild animals. We do not want to meet with the Tall One [Elephant], the Jungle Watcher [Bear], the Animal with the Head causing Fear [the Snake], the Leopard. You must blunt the thorns. We must meet with the Horn-bearer [Sambar deer], the Deer [Axis], the One full of Oil [Pig], the Noosed One [Iguāna], the Store-house [Beehive]. We must meet with about three pingo [carrying-stick] loads of honey. By the favour of the Gods. We ask only for the sake of our bodily livelihood." The first, fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth personages are included among the deities of the Wanniyas previously enumerated. The Kiri-Ammā is the Goddess of the Vaeddas. I have already stated that the Galē Baṇḍāra is not the God of the Rock, but a deity who landed on the south coast of Ceylon, with others from Madura. Kambili Unnaehae is an evil deity who is well known in the North-western Province. Thus these deities of the Forest are a miscellaneous gathering of Gods and evil deities.
In the hunting-prayer of the Wanniyas the first thing asked for is the Royal Beehive, the wish to find which occupies a foremost place in the hearts of all these northern hunters, though the Vaeddas have no knowledge of it. From the Wanniya Kōnā, whose grandfather was said to have taken one, I obtained the following account of it.
The entrance to the nest of the Bee-King is always at the foot of a large hollow tree, up the inside of which it extends. It is surrounded by seven other nests, which are those of his seven Adikārams, or Ministers; and they also have their entrances at the foot of their respective trees. The Royal Hive is the largest ; it extends up the hollow tree higher than a man's height; but all honey above the level of the chin must be left for the Bee-King. From each Adikāram-miya or Minister's hive there will be got two gourd-fuls of honey, and 1 Unnaehae is equivalent to our ‘Mr.'
from the Raja-miya or Royal hive fourteen gourd-fuls and seven large chatties or pot-fuls.
Whoever may first discover the nest, no one but a Wanniya can cut out the honey, and that only after a solemn ceremony, otherwise the bees of all the hives would attack and kill him. This result is said to have nearly occurred on one occasion when some Sinhalese villagers were rash enough to attempt to take one themselves; the boy who found it was badly stung, and would have died had not the Wanniyas been summoned in time to save his life by their prayers and magic spells, which appeased the bees, and enabled the hunters to get the honey.
The taking of the Raja-miya being an event of such extreme importance, a special offering is necessary as a preliminary. For this there are required one hundred ripe Plantains, one hundred Limes, one hundred Oranges, one thousand Areka-nuts, one thousand Betel leaves, seven quarts of unhusked rice (paddy), and seven Coconuts.
The first Wanniya who sees the Raja-miya must make the offering, and conduct all the proceedings on the occasion; and for the time being he is called the Wanniyā Kapurāla, or demon-priest. For the seven days prior to cutting out the honey he must bathe, after anointing his head with limejuice. He must continue to wear the same cloth all the time, and on each day he must wash it, whether it be an old or a new one. These must appear to be very unusual purifications to persons who rarely perform such acts in ordinary life, and they evidently indicate the extraordinary character of the occasion.
On the day when the honey is to be taken, the party proceed to the site of the Royal Hive; and there, within the circle of the Ministers, the offering is presented to the ForestGods, to ensure the success of the undertaking.
The Kapurāla first pounds the paddy, and having arranged seven new cooking-pots in a row in front of the Raja-miya, he boils the rice in Coconut milk separately in each. He next spreads a new white cloth on the ground in front of the Rajamiya, and places on it in a row opposite the pots seven large leaf-plates, which must consist of either pieces of Plantain
leaf or leaves of the Halmilla tree. After these have been lustrated the rice is deposited on them, that from each pot being put on the leaf adjoining it. The Betel leaves, Areka-nuts and fruit are then laid beside the rice, and sprinkled with water; and Camphor is burnt on one spot in front of all. Incense burning on a stick taken out of the fire is now waved round the cloth, and a triple obeisance completes the dedication.
A wick soaked in fat is next fixed opposite each offering, and lit; and, as in the ordinary ceremony, the Kapurāla turns aside until these lights have expired. He then returns, and makes a lustration three times round the cloth.
He now stands facing the offering, with palms joined in front of his face, bows thrice to it, and says, "Wanniyā Baṇḍāra, Five Dēvatās, Hat Rajjuruwo! This is for the favour of the Gods. To cut the Raja-miya came we." The others then respond in the Kaelē-bāsa, or jungle dialect, “ Kapurāla, Gabaḍāēwa waḍulāpan," (cut the hive,) whereupon he proceeds to cut out the honey, and place it in the gourds and pots which have been brought for the purpose. Lastly, he removes the rice, and shares it with the party, who all eat it up at the spot; after this they carry home the honey.
When northern Kandian Sinhalese meet with a hive on their honey-collecting expeditions, the person who cuts it out is addressed as "Waḍuwa," Axe-man, in Kaele-bāsa. Under no circumstances, however, must he take out and divide the honey among the party. This can only be done by a second person, who is addressed as "Purawannā," who fills the receptacles brought for it.
In the North-central Province and the adjoining part of the North-western Province, Ayiyanar is not merely a forest deity; he also exercises a general supervision over the village tanks.
In the former district Mr. R. W. Ievers stated 1 that when a village tank has filled, the elders of the village perform a ceremony called Muṭṭi Mangalya or 'Cooking-pot Festival.' They proceed to a special tree at the tank, and a salute of 1 Manual of the North-central Province, p. 109. Note A.
two guns is offered there to the deity. The chief elder, a 'Gamarāla,' then steps forward, and announces to the God that the tank is becoming full, that cultivation will now be commenced, and that after the harvest the festival will be celebrated. A bārē is then deposited in the shape of a few copper coins wrapped up in a piece of rag coloured yellow with saffron, which is tied to a branch of the tree. The ceremony is ended by the Gamarala's commending the tank, the village, its residents and their cattle to the protection of the deity.
After the harvest is finished the villagers at a public meeting appoint a day for the fulfilment of the promised ceremony, called the Muṭṭi Mangalya. The nearest Anumaetirāla (the title of a dancer in honour of a god and not of a demon), is invited to conduct it, and notices are issued to the washermen whose duty it is to supply the necessary white cloth, and to the tom-tom beaters who must take part in the ceremony. The Gamarāla directs that every shareholder in the rice-field should contribute to the feast.
On the appointed day these contributions are collected; they consist of rice and other materials for curries, Coconut oil, cakes, sweet Plantains, and Betel and Areka-nuts. The food is then cooked, and at the evening the assembled people eat it.
The meal being over, the Anumaetirāla, accompanied by all the people and the tom-tom beaters, proceeds in procession with two new earthen pots to the tree on which the bārē was hung. Under it on a raised altar of sticks (yahana) overhung with cloth and erected earlier in the evening are placed the two pots (muțți) after being purified with water and incense as usual, and marked with saffron; Betel and Arekanuts are also deposited on it [and no doubt a light also]. The deity is then addressed by the Anumaetirala [presumably thanking him for his favours and requesting him to accept the offering], and ceremonial dancing by him to the strains of the tom-toms continues till dawn. The two pots are then removed from the altar and laid on the stumps of two branches on or under the tree.
By the mouth of the Anumaetirāla the god now makes it known that he has accepted the offering, and that the tank, the village, its inhabitants and their cattle are taken under his protection for a period of one, two, or three years, as the case may be.
The people then return to the village, where the Anumaetirāla again dances, and the tom-toms are beaten until the mid-day meal is cooked. This is eaten up at noon, after which all disperse. Mr. Ievers stated that a somewhat similar ceremony is performed in case of an epidemic among either men or beasts. Thus in that part of the country it is clear that the place of the God of the Rock, the Gale Deviyā, whose worship and functions are described in the next chapter, is at least partly occupied by Ayiyanar. He is said to have fifty names, each one indicating a different function or power possessed by him.
The villagers catch the fish when their tanks are nearly emptied, by wading out in the water and suddenly dropping in it a conical wicker basket or creel (karak-geḍiya) without bottom, and with a small opening at the top through which the arm can be inserted for removing any fish that have been imprisoned. In the case of tanks infested by crocodiles in the eastern part of the North-western Province these fishers appeal to Ayiyanar to protect them while so engaged. They break some leafy twigs, and hang them on a horizontal branch or creeper, and say, "It is for the favour of the God Ayiyanār. Do not permit any living creature whatever in the tank to bite us." After this, the crocodiles are said never to molest them even when close to them (I have seen them only a few feet distant from the men), provided they do not defile the tank in any way- including expectoration in the water.
When they are travelling through wild forest which is believed to be infested by wild animals, or possibly robbers, or by evil demons, both Kandian Sinhalese and Wanniyas are accustomed to make a very simple offering to one of the Forest Deities, who is usually Ayiyanar, accompanied by the prayer, "It is for the favour of the Gods," or "the God Ayiyanār." The offering merely consists in hanging a leafy twig