Folk Lore Notes. Vol. II—Konkan
VOL. II KONKAN
REPRINTED FROM THE “INDIANANTIQUARY”
BY B. MILLER, SUPERINTENDENT, BRITISH INDIA PRESS,BOMBAY [i]
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Nature Powers. PAGE.
Worship of minor localdeities. Sun-worship. The Swastika. Circumambulation roundimages and other sacred objects. Moon-worship. Days of specialimportance. Eclipses. Worship of planets and stars. The milky way. Therainbow. Worship of the earth. Thunder and lightning. Earthquakes.Worship of sacred rivers, springs and pools. Water spirits and goblins.Ceremonies at digging of wells. Well water as a cure for disease.Sacred Lakes. Palaces under the water. Sacred mountains. Deities whocontrol the weather. Methods of causing or averting rain and ofchecking storms. Vratas or religious vows practised only bywomen. Rites in which women are excluded. Rites in which the worshippermust be nude. Superstitions in connection with aerolites and meteors 1
Village deities. Local deities. Installation ofdeities in new settlements. Ghostly godlings. Deities responsible forcrops and cattle 21
Causes of epidemic diseases and the remediesadopted to stop them. Cattle diseases. Remedies practised by thevillage people in connection with them. The methods for the exorcism ofdisease. Methods of expelling evil spirits from the body. The villagesorcerer. Offerings of rags, coins, etc., at sacred trees and wells.The transferring of disease from one person to another. Scapegoats 29
Shráddhas and other ceremoniesperformed for the propitiation and emancipation of the deceased.Worship of the founders of religious sects, of saints, etc. Ghosts.Rebirth of ancestors in the same family. Miracle-working tombs.Muhammadan saints whose worship has been adopted by Hindus. Ruralmethods for the cure of barrenness 40
Popular notions about dreams. Auspicious andinauspicious dreams. Temporary abandonment of the body by the soul.Character and functions of the bhut or disembodied soul. Thestate of the soul after death. The rebirth of the soul. The souls ofpersons dying a sudden or violent death. The ways by which ghosts enterand leave the body. Methods of driving away evil spirits from the body.Reliefs regarding sneezing and yawning. Rákshasa or themalevolent demon. Other malignant spirits. Evil spirits which go aboutheadless. The haunts of evil [ii]spirits. Ghosts of womendying an unnatural death. Spirits of persons killed by tigers and otherwild beasts. Ghosts of women dying in childbed or menses. Precautionstaken by parents at the birth of children. Beliefs in connection withbats and owls. Spirits which haunt ruins, guard buried treasure andoccupy valleys 49
Effects of the evil eye. Objects liable to beinfluenced by the evil eye. Precautions taken to evade the influence ofthe evil eye Opprobrious names. Change of sex. Protection against evilspirits. Amulets. Charmed circles. Omens. Numbers. Lucky and unluckydays. Rites performed to help the soul to the other world. Cremationand burial. The customs of shaving the hair. Offerings of food to thedead. Manifestation of evil spirits in form. The practice of breakingearthen vessels at death. Kites connected with mourning. Benevolentspirits. Spirits which haunt trees. The guardian spirits of crops andcattle. Spirits invoked to frighten children 60
Trees connected with deities and saints. Legendsand superstitions connected with them. Marriage of brides andbridegrooms to trees. Snake worship.Shrines of snake deities. Deified snakes. Snakes guarding treasure. Thevillage treatment of snake-bite. The jewel in the head of the snake.Guardian snakes 71
Devaks. Names derived from animals andplants. Sacred animals. Deities associated with animal worship. Worshipof stocks and stones. Survivals of human sacrifice. Disease-curingstones. Respect shown to corn sieves, corn pounders, the broom and theplough. Fire worship 78
Sacred animals and the legends and superstitionsconnected with them 83
Chetaks and Chetakins. 85
Rural ceremonies connected with agriculturaloperations. Rites performed for the protection of cattle. Ritesperformed for scaring noxious animals and insects. Rites performed forensuring sunshine and favourable weather. Rites performed for theprotection of crops. Rites in which secrecy and silence are observed.The observances at the Holi festival. Rites performed when boysand girls attain puberty. Vows. The black art 87
Glossary of vernacular terms, occurring in Volumes I andII i to xxxvii 
FOLKLORE OF THE KONKAN.
The worship of minor local deities is connected withsuch low castes as Guravas, Bhopis, Marátha Kunbis, Dhangars,Wághes, Murlis, Mahárs and Mángs in the Districtof Kolhápur. It is believed by the Bráhmans that once animage is consecrated and worshipped, it should be worshippeduninterruptedly every day, and he who neglects to worship such an imagedaily incurs the sin of Brahma-hatya or Bráhman-murder.For this reason Bráhmans generally do not worship minor localdeities. In former times Bráhmans who worshipped these deitieswere excommunicated by their caste-men. Such Pujáris werecompelled to wear a folded dhotur or waist cloth, and wereforbidden to put on the gandh or sandal paste mark in straightor cross lines. They were allowed to put on the tila or circularmark of sandal paste. Another reason why Bráhmans are not thePujáris or worshippers of such deities is thatBráhmans cannot accept or partake of the Naivedyaoffering of cooked food, fowls, etc., made to them. Lower class peoplecan partake of such offerings, and are therefore generally theworshippers or ministrants of minor local deities.
At Palshet in the Ratnágiri District, there are twográmdevis, viz., Jholái and Mhárjái,and the pujáris of these deities are respectively a Guravand a Mahár.1 The pujáris of goddesses aregenerally men of the lower castes. The guardian goddesses of thevillages of Pule, Varavade, Nandivade, and Rila have Kunbis as theirpujáris; while the pujáris of the goddessesMahálakshmi, Bhagvati, Mahákáli, and Jogáiare generally chosen from the Gurav caste.2 In the Konkanthe Ráuls (Shudras) are the pujáris of the deitiesVithoba, Ravalnáth and Bhaváni; the Ghádis are thepujáris of the deities Sáteri and Khavaneshwar;while the deities Mahádev and Máruti are worshipped bypujáris belonging to the Gurav caste.3 Thegoddesses Makhajan and Jakhmáta at Sangameshwar in theRatnágiri District are worshipped by pujáris whobelong to the Gurav and Bhoi castes respectively. The god Ganpati atMakhnele has for his pujári a Wáni. Thepujáris of the temple of Shiva at Lánje in theRatnágiri District are Wánis.4 It is said thatthe pujári of Pundárik at Pandharpur is aKiráta (fisherman) by caste.5
The pujári of the goddess Narmáta at Sidgad inthe Thána District is a Koli; whilst the pujárisof Kánoba, Khandoba, and Vetál are of the lowercastes.6 The goddesses Mahálakshmi of Kolvan andVajreshvari have their pujáris chosen from the lowercastes.7 The pujáris of Jari-Mari, Mhasoba,Bahiroba, Cheda and other deities which are said to prevent contagiousdiseases, are always men of the lower castes.8
The pujáris of the guardian goddesses of the villagesPetsai, Dasgaum and Nizámpur are a Mahár, aKumbhár or potter, and a Marátha, respectively.9The pujári of the guardian goddesses of Chaul in theKolába District belongs to the lower castes.10 The goddessMángái has always a Mahár as herpujári.11 Everyday the god Shiva isrequired to be worshipped first by a pujári of the Guravcaste. The pujári of Bahiri, a corruption of the wordBhairav, one of the manifestations of Shiva, is a man belonging to thelower castes. Similarly the pujáris of Bhagavati,Bhaváni, Ambika, Kálika, Jákhái,Jholái, Janni, Kolhái, Vadyájái,Shitaládevi, Chandika, etc., are persons belonging to lowercastes.12
It is considered by the Hindus very meritorious and holy to worshipthe Sun; and by Bráhmans the Sun is considered to be their chiefdeity. The Gáyatri Mantra of the Bráhmans is aprayer to the Sun-god or the Savita Dev, and the Bráhmans offerarghya or oblations of water to the Sun thrice a day. Those whowant health, wealth and prosperity propitiate the Sun-god by prayersand ceremonies. The Ratha Saptami is considered to be theprincipal day for special worship and festivities in honour of theSun-god. On this day, on a low wooden stool, is drawn, in red sandalpaste, a figure of the Sun in human shape seated in a chariot drawn byseven horses, or by a horse with seven faces. This figure is thenplaced in the sun-shine, and it is then worshipped by offering itarghya or spoonfuls of water, red powder, red flowers mixed withred sandal paste, camphor, incense and fruits. Some people kneel downwhile offering the arghyas to the Sun. These arghyas areeither three or twelve in number. Some persons make a vow not to eatanything unless they have worshipped the Sun and performed the twelveNamaskaras by falling prostrate and bowing with folded handstwelve times, and at each time repeating one of the twelve names of theSun.13
In the Ratnágiri District some people worship the Sun on theSundays of the month of Shrávan. A ceremony held on theRathasaptami day, i.e., the 7th day of the bright half ofMágh, is deemed a special festival in honour of theSun-god. On that day people draw, on a small wooden stool, an image ofthe Sun, seated in a chariot drawn by seven horses, and worship it withgreat reverence. Milk is then boiled on a fire made of cow-dung cakesin front of the household Tulsi plant. If the milk overflows tothe east, it is believed that there will be abundance of crops, but ifit flows to the west it is taken as a sign of the near approach offamine.14 The Sun-god is also worshipped on the followingoccasions, e.g., Trikal, Gajaccháya,Ardhodaya, Mahodaya, Vyatipát,Makar-Sankránt, Kark-Sankránt and the Solareclipse.15 Though there are few temples dedicated to the Sun,the village of Parule has the honour of having one called “thetemple of Adi-Náráyan.” Non-Bráhmanicalclasses are not seen worshipping the Sun in this district, despite thefact that the Sun is said to be the embodiment of the three principaldeities of the Hindus.16
The people of the Thána District believe that theSwastika is the central point of the helmet of the Sun, and avow called the Swastika Vrata is held in its honor. A woman whoobserves this vow, draws a figure of the Swastika and worshipsit daily during the Cháturmás(four months of the rainy season), at the expiration of which she givesa Bráhman a golden or silver plate with the sign of the Swastikaupon it.17 Another vow named Dhanurmás, commonto all districts in the Konkan, requires a person to complete his dailyrites before sun-rise, and to offer a preparation of food calledKhichadi to the Sun-god. The observer of this vow then partakesof the food, regarding it as a gift from that god. This is either donefor one day or repeated for a month till theDhanu-Sankránt.18 On theSomavati-Amávásya day (the 15th day of the darkhalf of a month falling on Monday), and the Kapiláshasthiday, the Sun is held in especial reverence.19 A curiousstory is narrated regarding the offering of Arghya to the Sun.It is said that the Sun rejoices at the birth of a Bráhman, andgives 1,000,000 cows in