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Religion of the Gonds

god, deo, goddess, gods and originally

GONDS, RELIGION OF THE. The Gonds, whose numbers were given in 1911 as three million, have been as being perhaps the most important of the non Aryan or forest tribes in India. The name Gond would seem to be practically equivalent to the name Khond. It has been pointed out that while the Gonds call them selves Koi (or Koitfir), the Khonds call themselves Ku. There seems to be sufficient evidence " to establish a probability that the Gonds and Khonds were originally one tribe in the south of India. and that they obtained separate names and languages since they left their it 'original home for the north. The fact that both of them speak languages of the Dravidian family, whose home is in southern India, makes it probable that the two tribes originally belonged there, and migrated north into the Central Provinces and Orissa " (R. V. Russell and R. B. Hira Lai). The Gonds worship as their great God Bura Deo (originally, it is thought, the sa-j tree). They worship also their ancestors, deified human beings, certain animals, implements and weapons. Some of their village gods are common to them and the Hindus. Their village gods include : Bhimsen, the god of strength; Ghor Deo, the horse god; Holera, the god of cattle: Ghansiam Deo, a deified prince; and Doctor Deo, a deified physician. They have, besides, a number of special tribal gods. These include : Pharsi Pen, the battle-axe god: Matiya, the god of mischief; Ghangra, the bell god; Chawar, the cow's tail; Palo (a piece of cloth); and Sale, apparently the god of cattle-pens. Sometimes they think of their gods collectively as Bura Deo. They have also household gods, which include :

Jhulan Devi, the cradle goddess; Nag Deo, the cobra god; Narayan Deo, the sun. The Goads used to offer human sacrifices to the goddess Kali and to the goddess Danteshwari (of Bastar); and the sacrifices to Kali at Chanda and Lanji persisted into the nineteenth century. " The victim was taken to the temple after sunset and shut up within its dismal walls. In the morning, when the door was opened, he was found dead, much to the glory of the great goddess, who had shown her power by coming during the night and sucking his blood " (Russell and Hira Lal). The goddess is perhaps a deifica tion of the tiger. The Goads also, or some of them (e.g., a tribe in the hills of Amarkantak and to the south-east in the Gondwana country), have been charged with cannibalism; but they only eat persons belonging to their own family or tribe. The cannibalism, if prac tised, may be ritualistic. The Holi festival is held in common with the Hindus. Stones are set up, usually by the roadside, in memory of dead persons. Some times a small stone seat is made in front for the deceased to sit on. This seems to be because ghosts and devils are supposed to be unable to sit on the bare ground. The Goads seem to have believed originally that the spirits of the dead continued to hover about their old homes and villages; but in course of time they developed or borrowed a doctrine of reincarnation, according to which souls are born again in children of the same family. See R. V. Russell.