Human Sacrifices in India by Major-General JOHN Campbell with a prefatory new introduction by Prof. Binod S Das
The highly interesting narrative, written in the nineteenth century, exclusively deals with the Khonds and other tribes inhabiting the mountain ranges of ancient kingdom of Orissa which can scarcely be recognised in the old dependency of British India now known as the district of Cuttack and which includes a considerable portion of the hill districts or the country of the Khonds. These are peopled generally by Khonds or Kui as they call themselves.
According to the author, the Khonds consider themselves the lords and owners of the soil and no tribe will ever part with land for any consideration whatever. As a race they are not remarkable. Men are often well formed and one in every way superior to their women. The appearance, habits, dress and other characteristics of the Khonds point out these people as descendants from the aboriginals of the country. Their Rajas or chieftains are generally uneducated men devoid of all mental culture.
In their religion there are traces of primitive elemental worship with the impious practice of human sacrifice which is the foundation of their religion and, saving a very few tribes, the Khonds generally propitiated their diety, always a malevolent being, with human offerings. They are excessively devoted to liqauor and tobacco. The Khond women are scantily clad at the men. The Khonds regard the abduction of a woman by a man of another tribe as a common insult to them all and, unless a reparation be made to the injured husband, war is declared against the tribe of the abducting party.
The Khonds are firm believers in magic and frequently attribute death or misfortune of any kind to enchantment. They believe that witches have the faculty of transforming themselves into tigers and are then called “Pulta Bag”. They are firm believes in the system or ritual of human sacrifices aggravated by the cruel manner of its performance. The human blood is offered to the earth goddess under the effigy of a bird in the hope of obtaining abundant crops. averting calamity and insuring general prosperity.
The ritual of human sacrifice is performed with invariable cruelty. The victims are called Meriah who must be bought with a price. They may be of any age, sex or caste; but adults are most esteemed, because are most costly and therefore and therefore the most commonly stolen from the plains by professional kidnappers of the Panoo caste who carry on a profitable trade in the blood of their fellow-men. “Three days previous to immolation there is great feasting rioting and dancing the most gross and brutal licentiousness. On the fourth day the Mariah is taken round the village in procession to each door, when some pluck his hair from his head and other solicit a drop of his saliva with which they anoint their own heads. Afterwards the victim is drugged and then taken to the place of sacrifice, has head and neck being introduced into the reft of a strong bomboo split in two, the ends of which are secured and held by the sacrifice.” This blood-curding story of wide-spread ritual of human sacrifice, practiced by Khonds, is a most gripping story told by author in his immitable language. As Collector and District Magistrate of Khond country be made most patient and persevering efforts by carrying out a crusade against Meriah sacrifice and largely succeeded in eradicating this horrible practice of Khonds. During the period 1837-1854 the author saved the life of fifteen hundred and six Meriah who were actually being led to sacrificial altar.
A book of this genre and of such absorbing interest must be covetted possession of all libraries–public or private not only in India but all over the world.
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