CHAPTER XVI. CONTINUATION OF JOURNEY AND SOJOURN.
On the following morning, both men and women repeated their visit. The former, however, did not enter the house; they lit a fire and prepared a plain meal. As often as a party of women came, one of the men went to the house-door and announced them, upon which the principal mourner came out of the house to receive them. She threw herself with such violence on the ground before them, that I thought she would not be able to rise up again; the women struck themselves with their fists once on their breasts, and then drew their hands to their heads. The widow raised herself in the meantime, threw herself impetuously round the necks of each of the women, throwing, at the same time, her head-dress over the head of her consoler, and both endeavoured to out-do each other in howling. All these evolutions were very rapidly performed; a dozen embraces were gone through in a moment. After the reception, they went into the house and continued howling at intervals. It was not until sun-set that all was still, and a supper concluded the whole affair. The women ate in the house - the men in the open air.
Funerals and marriages always cost the Hindoos a great deal. The one here described was that of a woman of the poorer class. Nevertheless, it is considered essential that there should be no want of toddy during two days, or of provisions for meals, at which there are an abundance of guests. In addition to this, there is the wood, which also costs a considerable sum, even when it is only common wood. The rich, who use on such occasions the most costly wood, frequently pay more than a thousand rupees (100 pounds).
I once met the funeral procession of a Hindoo child. It lay upon a cushion, covered with a white sheet, and was strewed with fresh and beautiful flowers. A man carried it on both his arms as gently and carefully as if it was sleeping. In this instance, also, there were only men present.
The Hindoos have no particular festival-day in the week, but festivals at certain times, which last for some days. I was present at one of these during my stay, Warusche-Parupu, the New-Year's festival, which took place on the 11th of April. It was a kind of fast-night celebration. The principal amusement consisted in throwing yellow, brown, and red colours over each other, and painting themselves with the same on their cheeks and foreheads. The noisy tam-tam, or a couple of violins, headed the procession, and greater or less followed, who, laughing and singing, danced from house to house, or from one place to another. Several, indeed, on this occasion, found the toddy rather too exciting, but not so much as to lose their consciousness or to exceed the bounds of decorum. The women do not take part in these public processions; but, in the evening, both sexes assemble in the houses, where the festivities are said not to be carried on in the most decorous manner.
Martyrs' festivals are no longer celebrated with full splendour. I did not see any; their time is past. I was, however, so fortunate as to see a martyr, to whom great numbers of people flocked. This holy man had, for three-and-twenty years, held one of his arms raised up with the hand turned back so far that a flower-pot could stand upon it. The three-and-twenty years were passed, and the flower-pot was removed; but neither hand nor arm were to be brought into any other position, for the muscles had contracted, the arm was quite withered, and presented a most repulsive appearance.
The Island of Elephanta is about six or eight miles distant from Bombay. Herr Wattenbach was so kind as to take me there one day. I saw some rather high mountains, which, however, we did not ascend; we visited only the temples, which are very near to the landing- place.
The principal temple resembles the larger viharas at Adjunta, with the single exception, that it is separated on both sides from the solid rock, and is connected with it only above, below, and at the back. In the sanctuary stands a gigantic three-headed bust. Some believe that it represents the Hindoo Trinity; one of the heads is full-faced, the two others in profile, one right, the other left. The bust, including the head-dress, measures certainly as much as eight feet. On the walls and in the niches, there are a number of giant statues and figures; in fact, whole scenes of the Hindoo mythology. The female figures are remarkable; they all have the left hip turned out, the right turned inwards. The temple appears to be devoted to the god Shiva.
In the neighbourhood of the large temple stands a smaller one, whose walls are also covered with deities. Both temples were much injured by the Portuguese, who, when they conquered the island, in their noble religious zeal planted cannon before them, in order to destroy the shocking Pagan temples; in which attempt they succeeded much better than in the conversion of the Pagans. Several columns are quite in ruins; nearly all are more or less damaged, and the ground is covered with fragments. None of either the gods or their attendants escaped uninjured.
There is a most enchanting view across the sea of the extensive town, and the delightful hills surrounding it, from the facade of the large temple. We passed a whole day here very agreeably. During the hot hours of noon, we amused ourselves by reading in the cool shadows of the temple. Herr Wattenbach had sent on several servants previously; among others, the cook, together with tables, chairs, provisions, books, and newspapers. In my opinion, this was rather superfluous; but what would my countrywomen have said could they have seen the English family which we accidentally met with here; they carried several couches, easy chairs, enormous foot- stools, a tent, etc., with them. That is what I call a simple country party!