Custom

From birth to death ,life in a bunt community is replete with tradition.

Birth :

When a bunt woman begins expressing labour pains,the mid-wives surrounding the mother signal the arrival of the new- born baby by beating plates.As soon as the baby is delivered, the umbilical chord is cut and buried usually in the back yard.After the birth,sugar,banana are distributed to close relatives.

Cleaning Rituals :

Five days after the birth of the baby the cleaning ritual begins.A regulistic process of purification of both mother and baby begins.The entire house is cleansed with cow-dung mixed with water and the 'sacred water'(theertha) obtained from temple,is sprinkled is different directions of the house.On this occasion the naming of the baby takes place.On the 16 th day the baby is ceremoniously placed in the cradle.

Cradle Ceremony :

On the day of placing the baby in the cradle, the elderly women in the family come together and sing folk-lullaby songs, in turns.While other women start distributing beaten rice, the relatives place money in the hands of baby.In order to protect the baby from the evil eye, a cowdung is placed in the area which is parallel to the direction,where the child's head rest,in the cradle.For 40 days, the mother is not allowed to perform any gruelling work.Meanwhile, the mother if she needs to venture outside the house, is allowed to go along with an escort.On the 40th day the mother mixes turmeric powder in the water and has a 'sacred bath'.This is the final act of cleansing.After her bath she decks herself with jewellary and in a ceremonial function draws water from the well.After pouring 1/4th of the water at the 'tulasi katte', the rest of the water is used to wash her legs.Later she goes to a local temple, accompanied by friends and relatives.On this day a special feast with array of dishes will be prepared. From this day onwards the nmother takes part in all house hold activities and does not confined herself to bed.

Thotlale Popuni :

During this ceremony the mother along with her new born baby pays a visit to her husband's house.In the absence of the mother and the child the cradle should not be removed

Chowla: This ceremony which celebrates the child coming of age is observed by removing the hair on the scalp.This ceremony is not observed for all male children but only for the first male member of the family.On a predetermined day, the barber after symbolically obtaining permission from the elders of the family, removes hair from the cheek and cuts handful of hair .Later the child is given bath and brought inside the home .After the bath the child is made to sit on the lap of his father.The ear lobes are pierced and the ear ring made by the goldsmith will decorate the ears of the child .After the symbolic distribution of sweets a sumptuous feast will follow. After the lunch the child is dressed in silk clothes and silk turbon is tied around the head.The child is decked with jewellary and resembles like a decked bridegroom.(This symbolic tradition has been completely stopped)

Marriage Engagement :

The relatives of a man who has attained marriageable age broach the subject of the marriage with a family who have an eligible daughter.When the first round of talksucceed, the engagement ceremony is fixed on an auspicious day.The relatives of the 'eligible' daughter on a specific day proceed to the would-be- bridegrooms house and ratify the date of engagement.The third round of talks commence, when on the day of engagement , the would-be-grooms parents,along with the elderly villager,in the locality gather at the would-be-bride's house.The marriage is decided, and the date fixed.However prior to the fixing of date, care is taken to ensure that 'Bali' of would-be-bride does not match with the 'Bali' of would-be-bridegroom.Later both the parents exchange 'Thambula'(comprising of beetel leaf ) and pledge not to 'disturb the alliance'.The same ceremony is replicated in the bride-groom's place.

The Rituals of Marriage :

Since the marriage takes place either in the homes of bride's family or bride groom's family, a 'chappara'( a raised platform covered with dried palm leaves) is constructed before the house.Later in full traditional splendour 'Muhurtada Kamba' will be planted.Several leaves of the mango tree are stringed together and fethered at the entrance of the house.Finally the wedding platform complete with a 'Mantap' is built.

Dibbana :

The tradition of going invitees in a group to the place of marriage ceremony is called 'dibbana baruvudu'.Before proceeding the head of the family accompanied by elders will offer prayers to their presiding diety. The procession accompanied by the loud beating of drums and trumpets(sometimes crackers too are burst) proceed to the wedding hall.The relatives of bride welcome the procession by offering water to wash their feet .Later in an intimate gesture bride's side lead the members into the hall.

Before entering the hall the feet of the bride annd bride groom are washed with the turmeric water.Meanwhile as the 'aarthi' is being lifted a group of woman sing 'shobana'.Later the bride steps into the hall by placing her right leg first inside tha hall.Men and women seated in separate places, are provided with juice.

After that 'Muhurtha shesha' will be followed.

Dhare Yereyuvudu :

During this ceremony any one from the bride's side carries a 'kanchina gindi, filled in the mouth with fresh nodes mango and jackfruit tree with a coconut and acoconut palm inflorescence.The elderly member takes it to each member of the audience where everybody touches it and bless the couple.The 'gurikar' next announces 'Dhare yereyutheve' three times before placing the girls hand and grooms hand.After the dhare ceremony the bride and groom take their place. This time the bride sits on the left side of the bride groom.

Dompa Jappuni :

The young couple is accompanied by the traditional beating of drums walk away from the wedding hall upto some distance and return with a new pair of slipper and umbrella.The small procession comprising of cousins and relatives accompany the couple.They are accorded a traditional welcome by pouring water on their feet.Later the newly married couple prostrate before each elder from both families and obtain their blessings.An emotional moment of an elderly woman symbolically entrusting the care of the bride to the groom's mother takes place.Before proceeding from that place the bride has her food on the same plantain leaf which had earlier been used by the bridegroom.

Seemantha(flowering ceremony) :

'Seemantha ' is anunique tradition which celebrates a woman's transition to motherhood.On the day of seemantha, women circle around the sacred 'tulasi katte' several times and lighting the lamp(deepa) and pray for good wishes.Later the women in an attempt to ward of evil eye , circle an female chick three times around the pregnant woman's head.The chick which is fed with rice grain is later released.The mother in law presents a silk saree, gold,beetlenut and 5 beetle leaves to the mothers and the relatives of the girl are reciprocate by decorating the young mother with 5 different types of flowers,jewellary among others.

On this ceremony, the bride is fed with an array of choicest dishes including 15 types of sweets.After the ceremonial feast the pregnant woman's plantain leaf along with other goodies handed over 'koraga woman'(scheduled tribe woman).The pregnant woman after obtaining the consent of her mother in law leaves for her home.

Death Ceremonies :

The death of a member in the family is known when a 'koraga' starts beating the drum rhythmically.It is said that news of a death of a member should not be intimated to family members through the 'koragas'.On confirmation of death , the body will shifted to the front portico of the house.After laying the body on the ground, a fistful of rice is placed near the head and the fistful of paddy is placed near the legs.A coconut broken into equal halves will be placed on the rice and paddy heap.After filling up these shells with oil, a wick is placed and lighted.Care is taken to ensure that the wick keeps burning till the body is shifted.Incence sticks are,after being ignited should be stuck on the stem of the cut banana plant.Waiting woman should keep a watch over the body until all the near and dear ones assemble.

As the pyre is being readied ,turmeric powder mixed with oil is applied on the body and later cleanced in warm water.If the deseased is the male person,close male relatives will perform the task and vice versa.Later the corpse is wrapped in a piece of cloth and brought inside the house.

The corpse will be decorated by wrapping a turban, if the corpse is male and vermillon will be applied on the fore head,if the corpse is that of a woman.A garland made of 'tulasi leaves' is placed on the corpse.The body is then shifted on to a single plantain leaf and moved in such a position that the head rests in the south direction.

Close relatives and prominent personalities in the village place sheets of clothes on the corpse.In recent times,sandal wood and flower wreaths placed on the body.

Then the funeral pyre should be built by logs of mango tree only.In olden days ,the locals used to reserve a field exclusively meant for burning dead people.Such exclusive plots are called 'doopeda kanda'.

After woman sprinkling tulasi water into the corpse's mouth ,the body is shifted on to a bamboo strecher.Carried by sons or near relatives, the carrying of the strecher to the funeral pyre is often accompanied by the chanting of 'govinda govinda'.

The strecher bearers circle the pyre anticlockwise direction and shift the body on the pyre.The body is positioned such that the head faces southern side. Additional fire wood is stocked such that it covers the corpse fully.Before adding fire wood , the cloth wrapping the corpse is removed and distributed among the low caste people, who had helped in the building of the pyre.Usually the son lights the pyre near the corpse's feet direction.As the pyre turns into full blaze the knife ,axes used in cutting the wood is thrown over the pyre from West to East.The remaining items like rice,paddy,coconut shells,incence sticks,plantain leaf is bundled together and thrown to the flames.

After that each family member takes a cold bath and reenter the house.The entire house is swept and cleaned.Before feeding on a frugal lunch consisting of porridge(ganji) and chutney , family members decide on the date of appearing the spirits rituals.

The fifth day after the body is burnt will be observed as 'boodhi oppa' and on 13th day 'bojja'(obsequies) will be observed.On fifth day ,the ash is piled in the shape of a mountain and a tulasi plant is planted .The skeletal remains shoul;d be collcted in a small pot and tied to a branch .After the uttar kriya the skeletal remains should be dispersed in a holy river.After this ritual, relatives as a sign of mourning shave off their beards and moustache.After boodhi oppa ritual the heir fills a bowl with water drawn from the well and keeps it adjacent to a lighted wick lamp.The water hhas to be changed twice a day on mornings and evenings.Till the 13th day, all inmates must have a head bath, abstain from non vegetarians and should remain indoor.

On the 13th day, after the death of a person 'uttara kriya'or 'bojja' is observed.A human form called 'neer nirel' is prepared and placed in the courtyard.after the completion of several rituals the guests are invited to a sumptuous lunch.Before the lunch all the prepared dishes are put in a plantain leaf and placed at a little distance from the house for the crows to feast upon.After any crow touches the food ,the serving of food to the guests begins.On the night a sumptuous dinner with tasteful meat and fish dishes are prepared.All the dishes are spread on a plantain leaf and spirit of the diseased person is invited.