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Kandii

victim, sacrifice, goddess, meriah, priest, female and human

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KANDII, written also Kond, Khond, and Ku, a race in the N.E. part of the Peninsula, in the Tributary Mahals lying between the eastern borders of Gondwana and the sea, up to lat. 22° N., and south to Bastar. In 1835, when engaged in suppressing a rebellion in Gumsur, the British officers became aware that this race practised human sacrifice and female infanticide on a scale and with a cruelty which .had never been sur fil passed by the most savage ,of nations, and from that period strenuous efforts of very able officers have been directed to the repression of these most appalling crimes. Major Macpherson reported, in April 1842, that in many villages he did not find a single female child. They killed their own girls, and purchased wives from other parts of the country. The custom was not universal. It was practised in what was called the middle Kandh region, but even there some tracts were honourably excepted, as Digi and Bodo Ghoro.

The Kandhs are strictly an agricultural people. They are divided into two sects. One worship Bura, and hold human sacrifice in abhorrence. The other devote themselves to Tari, the earth goddess, and periodical human sacrifices were made in her honour. The procurers employed were usually the Pan or Panwa, a low tribe diffused amongst the population of all the Tributary Mahals, under different denominations, as Pan or Panwa, Chik, Ganda, Panka, Colonel Dalton, the most recent writer, tells us that the Kandh call the victims Toki or Keddi, another term, Meriah, is Uriya. Persons of any race or age and of either sex were acceptable, if purchased, or the children of purchased Meriahs. Numbers were bought and held in readiness, and were well treated and fed. Male and female Meriahs were encouraged to cohabit, and other persons might have intercourse with female Meriahs, and in this manner numbers of children were produced, who were all treated as dedicated to destruction. If a Meriah had intercourse with the daughter of a Kandh, it was considered a distinction.

Ten or twelve days before the sacrifice, the hair of the victim selected, till then unshaved, was cut off, and the villagers, having bathed, went to the sacred grove with the priest, who there invoked the goddess and implored her favour. The rites varied among the tribes.

The ceremonies lasted three days, and it was a time of unbridled licencd, drunken feasting, and mad dances. The forms of the sacrifice differed slightly in the villages. On the second morning, the victim, who had been kept fasting from the preceding evening, was carefully washed and dressed, and led forth from the village in procession, with music and dancing, to the Meriah grove. The victim was bound to a post in the middle of the grove, in a sitting posture, by the priest. He was then anointed with oil, ghi, and turmeric, adorned with flowers, and worshipped, and there was great contention amongst the bystanders to obtain some relic, even a portion of the unguent with which he had been anointed. He was then left all night, during which the licentious feasting of the previous night was re sumed. As the victim must not die in bonds, the arms and legs were broken, or stupefaction by opium was produced.

The priest now offered. u prayers to the earth goddess. At noon of the hird day, the priest took the branch of a green t ,e, cleft several feet down the centre. They forced the victim within the rift, fitting it in some districts to his throat, and forcibly closed by cords tWisted round the open extremity of the stake. He,then wounded the victim slightly with his axe, and on this the crowd threw itself on the sacrifice,' and, leaving untouched the head and intestines, stripped the flesh from the bones, and fled with them to the* fields. The remains were next day burned on a funeral pile, with a further sacrifice of a sheep, and the ashes scattered over the fields, or made into a paste, with which the floors of the houses and granaries were smeared. Subsequently a bullock was given to the father or procurer of the victim, and another was sacrificed and eaten at the feast, which terminated the rite ; • but one year after the human sacrifice, the goddess Tari Penna was reminded of it by an offering of a pig. Major Macpherson mentions that the Meriah in some districts was put to death slowly by fire, the great object being to draw frOm the victim as many tears as possible, in the belief that Tani would proportionately increase the supply of rain.

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