Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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304                          THE GENTILES

dition becomes the duty of every person; that this im¬
portant object can be attained only by means of prayers,
ablutions, and alms; that those actions have an extra¬
ordinary merit during the festival of the eclipse, the alms
then bestowed being a hundred times more valuable than
alms given at any other time; and who is he, they ask,
that would refuse to make a profit of cent per cent.''

These, Monsieur, were the eclipses which I told you I
could not easily forget, and they naturally lead me to speak
of other wild extravagancies of the unhappy heathens,
from which I shall leave you to draw whatever conclusions
you please.

In the town of Jagannat} situated on the Gulf of Bengale,
and containing the famous temple of the idol of that name,
a certain annual festival is held, which continues, if my
memory fail not, for the space of eight or nine days. At
this festival is collected an incredible concourse of people,
as was the case anciently at the temple of Hammon, and as
happens at present in the city of Meca. The number, I
am told, sometimes exceeds one hundred and fifty thou¬
sand. A superb wooden machine is constructed, such as I
have seen in several other parts of the Indies, with I know
not how many grotesque figures, nearly resembling our
monsters which we see depicted with two heads, being half
man and half beast, gigantic and horrible heads, satyrs,
apes, and devils. This machine is set on fourteen or six¬
teen wheels like those of a gun-carriage, and drawn or
pushed along by the united exertions of fifty or sixty
persons. The idol, Jagannat, placed conspicuously in the
middle, richly attired, and gorgeously adorned, is thus con¬
veyed from one temple to another.

The first day on which this idol is formally exhibited in
the temple, the crowd is so immense, and the press so
violent, that some of the pilgrim,s, fatigued and worn out
in  consequence   of their  long journey,  are  squeezed  to

' In modern colloquial Juggernaut (a corruption of Jaggannatha,
one of the forms of Krishna), near the town of Purl in Orissa.
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