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FETISH GODS AND GODDESSES
 

Most of the people of the village are ignorant of higher or metaphysical aspect of Hinduism. The Vedic Gods like Vishnu, Rudra, Varuna and Apamnapat are mere names to the mass minds. They are symbols of aristocracy, too busy with the complicated affairs of higher class of people, satisfying their urge for heaven, granting them salvation after death or a higher life in the next birth. The proud Brahmins took the sole agency of their worship, made them the commodity of their trade, pleaded for ordinary people’s welfare before them in exchange of fees, were in charge of issuing passport to heaven. They were the God’s specially chosen people who would never allow others to such the image. These Gods were too great for the villagers and so inapproachable. They created their own Gods.

These people cannot rise above their daily necessities, their worldly feelings and ambitions. If they are poor, they desire to be rich. If they are childless, they long for children. If they go hunting, they wish themselves all success. Who will fulfill their desires ? Who will redress their innumerable grievances ? Who will help them in danger and save them from disease and degradation ? Whom will they approach for consultation in a complicated situation ? Who will fill their heart with hopes when they are disappointed ? Who will protect them against the cruel enemy, deadly snakes and savage beats ?

So they created certain Gods as offspring’s of their daily necessities. They receive attention so long as needs exist. When needs are satisfied and everyone is above want and disease, these Gods without hath, food and water, drag on a miserable existence and once disappear from the view altogether. Most of them lead poor lives like their worshippers—the farmers of the Indian village. The economic condition of the village can be easily guessed from a look at these wretched Gods. Most of them have no temple, not even a shed against sun and rain. They are instituted by the roadside, on the bank of some river or Pond, under some shady tree or in the open field. Sometimes the heavy flood sweeps or the incessant rainfall washes away half a dozen of these Gods. Fortunately they are inanimate. Otherwise the scorching sun, heavy rain, biting cold, continuous starvation and cold neglect must have finished them up quickly.

They may be represented by an animal, a pot, an offering, a place of offering, an inspired priest or seer or the temple itself. The devotee bestows mental faculties and miraculous powers upon them. The fetish Gods fell far below the dignity and splendor of the Vedic and Puranic Gods. The villagers left no stone unturned to bring them to the same status. Thus they become as powerful and virtuous as the Vedic and Puranic Gods. Hundreds and thousands of Goddesses with local names were treated to be the manifestation of Durga. She acquired new names as Jagulei, Hengulei, Paneswari and Patrasuni etc. It is said that Ramchandra having found no Saiva temple nearby, poured a handful of sand and worshipped the God. Henceforth this sand is being adored as Balukeswar Mahadeb in a temple by the people of Orissa.

Lokanath as the name indicates is the God of the mass. He is the most dreaded and most renowned God of Puri and other areas. He secures men against diseases if they promise to offer Him ripe plantains. If they forget the promise after recovery. He dispatches a poisonous cobra to kill a member of his family to bring him t6o senses. He assumed all the Puranic virtues of Siva, a popular name and came within the easy reach of the people.

The Khonds of Phulbani, Orissa, used to steal a boy from the low lands, sacrificed him in the field to make their turmeric redder. That practice no longer exists. Now a male buffalo is sacrificed. Whoever desires, cuts up a piece of flesh from the living animal. Limbs vanish part by part. Thus the whole of the sacred flesh is taken away.

In Orissa thousands of goats, rams and fowls are sacrificed before the fetish Gods. In a small mountain island of the lake Chilka, goats, sheep and fowls are left behind by people desiring the grace of Kalijai, the goddess. It is a pitiable sight to see these animals die of the dearth of food and water

Worship of Hot Springs

Thousands of Oriya women taken their bath in Taptapani and Hatakeswar, swallow up whatever they get-an arecanut, a crab, a snail without any consideration. They take this desperate step for procuring children. She who hesitates becomes unsuccessful.

Worship of Earthquake

People believe that the burden of the earth is borne by a many-hooded snake named Vasuki. When he moves his hood, troubled by the heavy pressure, earthquake takes place.

Worship of Birds, Bearts, Fish and Reptiles

The bull is worshipped as a conveyance of Siva. Nobody kills a cobra, for it is the favorite of the same God. Boys and girls do not dare killing a rat, for it is the conveyance of Ganesh, the God of learning. ‘Biccha’, a poisonous reptile is a pet of Saraswati. To kill it, is considered an offence. Monkeys who sided with Ramachandra in his war with Ravana, are treated with respect by the orthodox people. Hanuman, their leader is worshipped as Mahabir (great hero) in many of the Orissa villages. The young villagers propitiate him with heroic physical fits. The ox treated with great respect by the householder is worshipped on the fullmoon day of Sravan. It enjoys a work-free day. After bath it is decorated with garlands of flowers, turmeric and vermilion. It takes specially prepared cakes along with the daily fodder.

Worship of dry fish is in practice in Orissa. This festival is called ‘Kanji amla’. Seven dry fishes decorated with red sarees and vermillion re worshipped as seven daughters-in-law of ‘Sathi-debi’. The kite and jackal are worshipped on the ‘Dutia-Ossa’ in the month of Aswin. The virgins construct a statue of the cuckoo, keep it in a mango tree after due worship and sing songs of the Spring Season. This is peculiar to Balasore. An image of Cobra named Pingala-naga made up of Gold, silver, copper or rice powder is worshipped on the ‘Naga-chauthi’- the forth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartik. A piece of anthill represents Nimija—the wife of Pingala naga. The worship of tortoise is in vogue in the district of Sambalpur. People have great respect for tortoise, for Vishnu incarnated in that form and bore the sinking Earth on His back. The snails and oysters are propitiated on the New Moon of the month of Sravan. They are requested to desist from tearing the feet of cultivators working in the field.

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