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The Bonga Headman

Category: Part IV

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Sarjomghutu is a village about four miles from Barhait Bazar on
the banks of the Badi river. On the river bank grows a large banyan
tree. This village has no headman or paranic; any headman who is
appointed invariably dies; so they have made a bonga who lives in
the banyan tree their headman.

When any matter has to be decided, the villagers all meet at the banyan
tree, where they have made their manjhi than; they take out a stool
to the tree and invite the invisible headman to sit on it. Then they
discuss the matter and themselves speak the answers which the headman
is supposed to give. This goes on to the present day and there is no
doubt that these same villagers sometimes offer human sacrifices,
but they will never admit it, for it would bring them bad luck to
speak about it.

The villagers get on very well with the bonga. If any of them has
a wedding or a number of visitors at his house, and has not enough
plates and dishes, he goes to the banyan tree and asks the headman
to lend him some. Then he goes back to his house, and returning in a
little while finds the plates and dishes waiting for him under the
tree; and when he has finished with them he cleans them well and
takes them back to the tree.

Next: Lakhan And The Bongas

Previous: Marriage With Bongas

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