We have said nothing yet about the appearance of the Cingalese. Both men and women wear a piece of cloth wound round their waists, called a comboy; but they do not, like the Hindoos, twist it over their shoulders; they wear a jacket instead. Neither do the men wear turbans, as in India, but they fasten their hair with a comb, while the women fasten theirs with long pins. The Cingalese ladies and gentlemen imitate the English dress, especially when they come to a party at the English Governor’s house. Then they wear shoes and stockings instead of sandals; the gentlemen contrive to place a hat over their long hair, by first taking out the combs; yet they still wind a comboy over their English clothes. The Hindoos do not thus imitate the English, for they are too proud of their own customs. Hindoo ladies never go into company; but Cingalese ladies may be seen at parties, arrayed in colored satin jackets, and adorned with golden hair-pins, and diamond necklaces.
You have heard of the foolish ideas the Hindoos entertain about castes. It is the Brahmin priests who teach them these opinions. The Buddhist priests say nothing about castes; yet the Cingalese have castes of their own; but not the same castes as the Hindoos. There are twenty-one castes in all; the highest caste consists of the husbandmen, and the lowest of the mat-weavers.
Below the lowest caste, are the OUTCASTS! The poor outcasts live in villages by themselves, hated by all. When they meet any one, who are not outcasts, they go as near to the hedge as they can, with their hands on the top of their heads, to show their respect. These poor creatures are accustomed to be treated as if they were dogs. What pride there is in man’s heart! How is it one poor worm can lift himself up so high above his fellow-worm, though both are made of the same dust, and shall lie down in the same dust together!
This town is built among the high mountains. It was built there for the same reason that the eagle builds her nest on the top of a tall rock,—to get out of the reach of enemies. But the proud king, who once dwelt there, has been conquered, and now England’s Queen rules over Ceylon. No wonder that the proud king had enemies, for he was a monster of cruelty. His palace is still to be seen. See that high tower, and that open gallery at the top! There the last king used to stand to enjoy the sight of his subjects’ agonies. Those who had offended him were killed in the Court below,—killed not in a common manner, but in all kinds of barbarous ways,—such as by being cut in pieces, or by swallowing melted lead. At length the Cingalese invited the English to come and deliver them from their tyrant; the English came and shut him up in prison till he died, and now an English governor rules over Ceylon.
The greatest curiosity to be seen at Kandy is a TOOTH! a tooth that the people say was taken out of the mouth of their Buddha. It is kept in a splendid temple on a golden table, in a golden box of great size. There are seven boxes one inside the other, and in the innermost box, wrapped up in gold, there is a piece of ivory, the size of a man’s thumb,—that is the tooth of Buddha! Every day it is worshipped, and offerings of fruit and flowers are presented.