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wives of the Gosáins of the Nand-gánw temple, and their antagonists the men of Barsána. The combatants are drawn up more in battle-array, instead of skirmishing by twos and threes, and rally round a small yellow pennon that is carried in their midst; but the show is less picturesque in its accessories, being held on a very dusty spot outside the town, and was more of a phallic orgie.
Feb. 27th, the Holi. Phálen.-Here is a sacred pond called Prahládkund, and the fact of its having preserved its original name gives a clue, as in so many parallel cases, to the older form of the name now borne by the village. The local pandits would derive the word Phálen from the verb phárna, “to tear in pieces," with a reference to the fate of Prahlád's impious father, Hiranya-Kasipu: but such a formation would be contrary both to rule and to experience, and the word is beyond a doubt a corruption of Prahláda-gráma. Thus: 1st, the r in the compounds pr and gr is elided. by Vararuchi's sútra, Sarvatra lava-rám, III, 3, as in los for kros; 2ndly, the d in láda is elided by Vararuchi II, 2, as in pau for pada; 3rdly, the initial g of gáma is elided by a further application of the last quoted rule; 4thly, the m in gám becomes v, these two letters being ordinarily interchangeable, thus dhímar = dhívar; Bhamáni Bhaváni; gauna = gamana and 5thly, a nasal is inserted, which can always be done at pleasure. The result is Pahlau-aunw, from which to Phálan or Phálen is a transition so easy as to be almost a phonetic necessity.
Arriving at the village about an hour before sunset I found a crowd of some 5000 people closely packed in the narrow space on the margin of the pond and swarming over the tops of the houses and the branches of all the trees in the neighbourhood. A large bonfire had been stacked half-way between the pond and a little shrine dedicated to Prahlád, inside which the Khera-pat, or Pánda, who was to take the chief part in the performance of the day, was sitting telling his beads. At 6 P. M. the pile was lit and being composed of the most inflammable materials at once burst into such a tremendous blaze that I felt myself scorching, though the little hillock where I was seated was a good many yards away. However, the lads of the village kept on running close round it, jumping and dancing and brandishing their láṭhis, while the Pánda went down and dipped in the pond and then, with his dripping pagri and dhuti on, ran back and made a feint of passing through the fire. In reality he only jumped over the outermost verge of the smouldering ashes and then dashed into his cell again, much to the dissatisfaction of the spectators, who say that the former incumbent used to do it much more thoroughly. If on the next recurrence of the festival, the Pánda shews himself equally timid, the village proprietors threaten to eject him, as an impostor, from the land which he holds rentfree simply on the score of his being fire-proof.
Feb. 28th, Kosi.-After sitting a little while at a nach of the ordinary character given by one of the principal traders in the town, I went on to see the chaupáis, or more special Holi performances, got up by the different bodies of Ját zamindárs, each in their own quarter of the town. The dancers, exclusively men and boys, are all members of the proprietory clan and are all dressed alike in a very high-waisted full-skirted white robe, reaching to the ankles, called a jhagá, with a red pagri, in which is set at the back of the head a long tinsel plume, Kalangi, to represent the peacock feathers with which Krishna was wont to adorn himself as he rambled through the woods. The women stand at one end of the court-yard with their mantle drawn over their faces and holding long láthis with which at a later period of the proceedings they join in the Holi sports. Opposite them are the bands-men with drums, cymbals and timbrels and at their back other men with sticks and green twigs which they brandish about over their heads. The space in the middle is circled by torch-bearers and kept clear for the dancers, who are generally 6 in number, only one pair dancing at a time. Each performer, in the dress as above described, has a knife or dagger in his right hand and its scabbard in his left. At first darting forward they make a feint of thrusting at the women or other spectators and then pointing the knife to their own breast they whirl round and round, generally backwards, the pace growing faster and more furious and the clash of the band louder and louder till at last they sink down, with their flowing robe spread out all round them, in a sort of curtsey, and retire into the back ground to be succeeded by another pair of performers. After a pair of men comes a pair of boys, and so on alternately with very little variation in the action. Between the dances a verse or two of a song is sung, and at the end comes the Holi khelna. This is a very monotonous performance. The women stand in a line, their faces veiled, and each with a láthi ornamented with bands of metal and gaudy pendents, like the Bacchantes of old with the thyrsus, and an equal number of men oppose them at a few yards' interval. The latter advance slowly with a defiant air and continue shouting snatches of scurrilous song till they are close upon the women, who then thrust out their láthis and without uttering a word follow them as they turn their back and retreat to their original standingplace. Arrived there they let the women form again in line as they were at first and then again advance upon them, precisely as before, and so it goes on till their repertory of songs is exhausted or they have no voice left to sing them. To complete my description I here give some specimens of these sakhis or verses, and have added notes to all the words that seemed likely to require explanation. They are too coarse and at the same time too stupid to make it desirable for me to translate them.
होली खेलने के समयको साखी |
कान्हा धरे रे मुकट खेले होरी ।
एक ओर खेले कुंवर कन्हैया एक और राधा गोरी ॥ १ ॥
इन गलियन काम कहा तेरो ।
इन गलियन मेरो स्यालू* फासो में तो फारूंगी यार झगा | तेरे ॥ २ ॥ खिसली तोहि देख अटाते ।
व जु कहेहेा तोहि अध्वर! लूंगो अब मेरी टूटी है बांह बरा१ते ॥ ३॥
कब निकसेगो सुक्र || चले चालौ ।
गोरीने डोला सजवायो रसियाने सिकल कस्तो भाला ॥ ४ ॥
जोरी ** मत करे मान राख देंउगी ।
रंग महल मेरो पलंग बिक्यो है हां तेरा जोम डाट उगी ॥ ५ ॥
संग सायaat area कही होती ।
माटी खोदन गई खदाने?? हां मेरी बांह गही होती ॥ ६ ॥ नजर ठेरारे || || नजर ठेरा ऊंचे चोंड़े पे यार ।
नजर ठेराय ऊंचे चों के
एक सुख देख्यो गाल अधर ले जाय ॥ ७ ॥
मह धोय श्रई गाल * * * कटाइवे कू ॥ ८ ॥
* Syálu, a woman's dopatta.
+ Jhagá, a man's dress.
I Adhbar, in the middle.
§ Bará, an ornament worn by women on the elbow.
|| Sule, the planet Venus, which is regarded as auspicious.
T Chalan, the same as the more common gauna.
** Jori, for zori, zabrdasti.
++ Jom, lust, passion.
‡‡ Dyaus, the day-time.
§§ Khadána, a clay pit.
|||| Therà, fix, for thahra.
बाबा Chonda, the knot of hair at the top of a woman's head. *** Gál katána, to have the cheek kissed.
खाज मिटे तेरी ॥ ९ ॥
साथिन तेरा गोना कहिये ।
गोनेमेंका फूल बटे हें आंख मीच सहजैये ॥ १० ॥
ana àlatî an ana àrdî qaâ qraì arc ana àrat i
बड़े से भोंगरा * में पटक पछारी नारे की झटक खोली ॥ ११ ॥
March 1st, Kosi.-Spend an hour or two in the afternoon as a spectator of the Holi sports at the Gomati-Kund. Each of the 6 Ját villages of the Denda Pál§ has two or more chaupáis, which come up one after the other in a long procession, stopping at short intervals on the way to dance in the manner above described, but several at a time instead of in single pairs. One of the performers executed a pas de seul mounted on a daf, or large timbrel, which was supported on the shoulders of four other men of his troupe. Bands of Mummers (or swángs) were also to be seen, one set attired as Muhammadan fakírs; another (gháyalon ká swáng) as wounded warriors, painted with streaks, as it were of blood, and with sword-blades and daggers so bound on to their neck and arms and other parts of the body that they seemed to be transfixed by them. Some long iron rods were actually thrust through their protruded tongue and their cheeks, and in this ghastly guise and with drawn swords in their hands, with which they kept on dealing and parrying blows, the pair of combatants perambulated the crowd.
March 2nd.—At 2 P. M. ride over to Bathen for the Holanga mela, and find a place reserved for me on a raised terrace at the junction of four streets in the centre of the village. Every avenue was closely packed with the densest throng, and the house-tops seemed like gardens of flowers with the bright dresses of the women. Most of them were Játs by caste and wore their distinctive costume, a petticoat of coarse country stuff worked by their own hands with figures of birds, beasts and men of most grotesque design, and a mantle thickly sewn all over with discs of talc, which flash like mirrors in the sun and quite dazzle the sight. The performers in the chaupái could scarcely force their way through the crowd much less dance, but the noise of the band that followed close at their heels made up for all shortcomings. There was a great deal of singing, of a very vociferous and
* Bhaungara, a thicket.
+ Nára, a twisted string, izar-band.
Jhatak, a knot.
§ Any subdivision of a Jáț clan is called a Pál, and the town of Kosi is the centre of one such subdivision, which is known as the Denda Pál.
probably also a very licentious character; but my ears were not offended, for in the general din it was impossible to distinguish a single word. Handfulls of red powder (abir) mixed with tiny particles of glistening tale were thrown about, up to the balconies above and down on the heads of the people below, and seen through this atmosphere of coloured cloud, the frantic gestures of the throng, their white clothes and faces all stained with red and yellow patches, and the great timbrels with bunches of peacocks' feathers, artificial flowers and tinsel stars stuck in their rim, borne above the players' heads, and now and again tossed up high in the air, combined to form a curious and picturesque spectacle. After the music came a posse of rustics each bearing a rough jagged branch of the prickly acacia, stript of its leaves, and in their centre one man with a small yellow pennon on a long staff, yellow being the colour appropriate to the Spring season and the god of Love. The whole party slowly made its way through the village to an open plain outside, where the crowd assembled cannot have numbered less than 15,000. Here a circular arena was cleared and about a hundred of the Bathen Jáṭnis were drawn up in a line, each with a long bambu in her hands, and confronting them an equal number of the bow-men who are all from the neighbouring village of Jau. A sham fight ensued, the women trying to beat down the thorny bushes and force their way to the flag. A man or two got a cut in the face, but the most perfect good humour prevailed, except when an outsider from some other village attempted to join in the play; he was at once hustled out with kicks and blows that meant mischief. The women were backed up by their own husbands, who stood behind and encouraged them by word, but did not move a hand to strike. When it was all over, many of the spectators ran into the arena, and rolled over and over in the dust, or streaked themselves with it on the forehead, taking it as the dust hallowed by the feet of Krishna and the Gopís.
The forenoon had been devoted to the recitation of Hindi poems appropriate to the occasion. I was not on the spot in time enough to hear any of this, but with some difficulty I obtained for a few days the loan of the volume that was used, and have copied from it three short pieces. The actual MS. is of no greater antiquity than 1776 A. D., the colophon at the end, in the curious mixture of Sanskrit and Hindi affected by village panḍits, standing thus:
Sambat 1852 Bhadrapad sudi 2 dwitiya, rabibar, likhitam idam pustakam, Sri Gopál Dás Charan-Pahári*-madhye parhan árthi Sri Seva Dás Bari Bathain vási :
* Charan-Pahári is the name of a small detached rock, of the same character as the Bharatpur range, that crops up above the ground in the village of Little Bathen.