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TYPES OF CULTURAL FEATURES
Write-ups on various traditions whether their roots lie in religion or community-morals, come under this type of cultural features.
Man is an incorrigible impersonator and from pre-historic times he has re-enacted the natural phenomena (forces)—laws and causes—through rituals, the commonest being the vegetation or fertility rituals. The Minijar mela of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh is a good example of the vegetation ritual that has continued to this day. The following extract is taken from the Punjab States Gazetteer (Vol. XXIIA) describing this fair.
"Minjran ka Mela : This mela is held on the third Sunday of Sawan. In its
main features it is peculiar to Chamba though name is known, and
some of the ceremonies are observed in other parts of the hills. The essential
part of the mela consists in the throwing into the
Ravi of a male buffalo as a
sacrifice to the river-god. A week before the time comes round, each person has
a silk tassel made, which is attached to some part of the dress and worn. This
is called a minjar. On the day, the Raja and his Court proceed to the spot,
where the mela has been held from time inmemorial. There a great concourse
of people assemble. The Raja gives the signal by throwing into the river a
coconut, a rupee, drub-grass, and some flowers and thereupon the live buffalo
is pushed in to the flood. The Raja throws his minjar in after the buffalo and
all the people follow his example. The animal is then closely watched, as it’s
fate is believed to foreshadow prosperity or adversity for the coming year to the reigning family and the State. If carried away and drowned, the event is
regarded as propitious, the sacrifice having been accepted. If it crosses the river and gets out on the other bank, this also is propitious... Being a devoted thing, the animal if it escapes, is retained till the following year, doing no work, and is then cast in again, and so on till finally carried away and drowned. The buffalo is provided at the expense of the? State. This mela is of probably aboriginal origin and connected with the earth worship. Which was so prevalent among the aborigines of the hills? It was probably intended to secure good rains and a bountiful harvest. The ancient name of the river god in Aryan times was Varuna and the present name is Birbatal, but he also bears a Muhammadan name Khwaja Khizr, and is worshipped all over the Punjab, as the god of wells, springs, streams and rivers. The fact of the mela being always held on Sunday may have some connection with sun-worship."
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