chapter  VII
3 Pages

THE COMING OF AGE OF A GIRL AND A BOY

WnEN a girl menstruates for the first time she is said to be ' grown up ' (baligh honti), ' to have her head dirty for the first time' (pahle sir maila hona), owing to the prohibition against bathing during this period, or ' to mix with those who arc grown up' (baron men milna). The illness at the lunar periods is expressed by 'the approach of the menses' (hafa ana), 'the arrival of the season for bathing' (nihani ana), 'the head becoming dirty' (sir maila honti), 'becoming unfit for prayers ' (benamazi ana), or 'to become unclean' (napak horu"l). Among Musalman girls the time of puberty is from ten to fourteen, generally about twelve, and the function continues till the fortieth. or in some cases the forty-fifth year. 1 Among women in south Gujarat a ceremony known as 'donning the 8carf' (orhni urana) is performed secretly when a girl reaches womanhood. 2 Baloch mothers press their daughters' breasts and rub them with ashes and salt to prevent them from swelling or holding milk, and when menstruation occurs for the first time the mother takes three small stones, arranges them on the ground in the form of a triangle, and bids the girl leap over them thrice, in order that the menses may not last more than three (bys, the furthest limit being five or six days, 3 At a girl's first menstruation in the Deccan seven or nine married women of the house and neighbourhood meet in the afternoon and each of them rubs a little perfumed powder (chiksd) on the girl's body, puts a couple of garlands of flowers round her neck and anoints her with fragrant oil (phulel ka tel). After this she is confined in a private room and the women go home after spending a little time in music. For seven days the girl is kept shut up in this room, she is not allowed to go out, to do any

sort of work, or to bathe. During this time her diet consisti; of rice boiled with pulse (khichari), fish, flesh, salt, and acid foods being prohibited. On the seventh day she is bathed. The married women, as before, assemble in the moT'ning, hold a red cloth over her head as a canopy, take a small water vessel with a spout (badhni), either plain or decorated with paint, fasten a packet of betel-leaves with a red thread to the neck of the pot, drop into it four or five fruits of the two kinds of myrobalan, and each woman pours water from it twice over the girl's head. Before the women do this their laps are filled with cakes and betel, and sandalwood is TUbbcd on their necks. On that evening a feast is given, and the girl is adorned with glass bangles and dressed in her best. They keep vigil during the night to guard against evil spirits. If the girl be already married and consummation has not yet taken place, which is more than probable as Musalmans object to infant marriage, her husband, leaving the party to enjoy themselves, takes his bride home and consummates the niarriage. On this occasion he is usually given a present of clothes, and the pair arc wreathed with flowers. But it is only the lower classes who make this public, and more respectable people do not announce the event.