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B.3 Ch. 11: Most Celebrated Idolater's Pagodas

B.3 Ch. 11: Most Celebrated Idolater's Pagodas Page of 417 B.3 Ch. 11: Most Celebrated Idolater's Pagodas Text size:minus plus Restore normal size   Mail page  Print this page
chap. xi                         JAGANNATH                                 177
in fulfilment of their vows, taxes each one according to his means, of which he is very exactly informed. Thus he receives enormous sums, from which he himself derives no profit, all being expended on the feeding of the poor and the support of the pagoda. The Grand Brahman distributes each day to the pilgrims whatever food is required, consisting of butter, milk, rice, and flour ; but to the poor, who are in want of utensils to cook their food with, it is given ready cooked.1 It is a surprising thing, and well worthy of notice, to observe how the food is distributed to the poor people who have no pots. In the morning the rice is cooked in earthen pots of different sizes, and when the hour has come when the poor pilgrims come for food, if, for example, there are five, the chief Brahman orders another Brahman to take a pot full of cooked rice, which he lets fall, and the pot is broken into five equal parts, of which each pilgrim takes one, and likewise in proportion, more or less, according to the number of people who present themselves to receive their shares. The Brahmans never cook twice in the same earthen pot, but frequently use copper pots, and they have for plates certain leaves larger than our walnut leaves,2 which are stitched together. They use, however, a kind of dish about a foot in diameter to melt butter, in which they dip the rice with their fingers when eating, and a small ladle for the melted butter, which is drunk as we drink a glass of Spanish wine after a repast.
I come now to a more detailed description of the idol on the altar of the pagoda of Jagannath. It is covered from the neck to the base with a grand mantle which hangs on the altar, and this mantle is of gold or silver brocade according to the nature of the ceremonies. At first this idol had neither feet nor hands, and this is how this fact is explained. After one of their prophets was taken up into heaven, when they were all plunged in tears and lamentation at losing him, God sent to them from heaven an angel like the prophet, whom they treated with great honour and respect. But while
1 This is a distorted version of the distribution of the consecrated food to the pilgrims. See Hastings, op. cit., vii. 464 f. ; Hunter, i. 146. The same custom prevails at other Vaishnava shrines (Mrs. S. Stevenson, Rites of the Twice-born, 317).                   a See ii. 60 above.
B.3 Ch. 11: Most Celebrated Idolater's Pagodas Page of 417 B.3 Ch. 11: Most Celebrated Idolater's Pagodas
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