Good Friday, Scapegoat & Badagas of Nilgiris

(Hope the Good Friday prayers assuage the  Corona demon and mitigate its impact in the coming days.  Beliefs, practices, religions and faith are different things though there may be many commonalities among them as ultimately all have the same goal. The practice of  Scapegoat – transferring the sins of the dead to a goat-  and Litany for the dead – forgiveness for the dead- are known to exist in some  religions and practices. However, the way the Badagas of  Blue Mountains believe and practice them  appear to be rather unique.  They are practical, down to earth and form a list of penal codes.

Towards the end of the funeral men gather around the corpse and recite the litany for the dead and,  at the end,  transfer the sins to a (now imaginary) calf. It is called Calf Blessing. The sins are said to be over 300 and cover personal morality, behavior, family values and etiquette and community as well as environmental responsibilities. Here are some of them: )

If he did evil towards his father or grandfather – a sin

If he wronged the past generations – a sin

If he did evil towards his father in law and mother in law- a sin

If he brought enmity between brothers –a sin

If he broke a bond of friendship – a sin

If he used a cow to plough the land – a sin

If he coveted a buffalo yielding abundant milk  – a sin

If he coveted the good crops of others – a sin

If he refused food to  the hungry – a sin

If he refused fire to the frozen – a sin

If he showed the wrong way to a stranger in the forest- a sin

If he tore his dress angrily when caught on thorns – a sin

If he got on the cot while his father in law slept on the ground – a sin

If he spat disrespectfully before someone – a sin

If he created obstacles towards charitable deeds – a sin

If he has felled trees in the forests – a sin

If he has pulled a young plant and left it in the sun – a sin

If he has pruned a young plant before it was ready – a sin

If he ripped things out of a forests – a sin

If he has killed a lizard – a sin

If he has killed a frog- a sin

If he has killed a gecko – a sin

If he has killed a iguana – a sin

If he has killed a snake – a sin

If he wasted dried firewood – a sin

If he removed the field fences and let the animals out – a sin

If he broke down a dam that had been built up – a sin

If he let the water of the overflowing pond run out – a sin

If after catching a fledging bird, he gave it to a cat – sin

If a barren cow was milked – a sin

If he threw out dirty water towards the rising sun – a sin

If he poured urine on a burning fire – a sin

If he showed his posterior to the sun- a sin.

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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