The Influence of the Moon

A Santhal Pargana Tale

translated by Cecil Henry Bompas

If a child is born on the day before the new moon the following ceremony is observed. After bathing the child they place an old broom in the mother’s arms instead of the child; then the mother takes the child and throws it out on the dung heap behind the house. The midwife then takes an old broom and an old winnowing fan and sweeps up a little rubbish on to the fan and takes it and throws it on the dung hill; there she sees the child and calls out. “Here is a child on the dung heap” then she pretends to sweep the child with the broom into the winnowing fan and lifts it up and carries it into the house; and asks the people of the house whether they will rear it. They ask what wages she will give them and she promises to give them a heifer when the child is grown up.

If this is not done the child will be unlucky when it grows up; if it is a boy, however often he may marry, his wife will die and so, if it is a girl, her husbands will die.

Another fact is that they always shave a child’s head for the first two times during the same moon; if it is shaved first during one moon and then during the following moon; it will always have a headache once a month.

Similarly when they tie the knots in a string to fix the date of a wedding the wedding must take place in the lunar month in which the knots are tied or else the children born of the marriage will die.