The larger the number of the Brahmans that are fed on the occasion of the marriage, the greater the glory of the proprietor of the grove; and when I asked old Barjor Singh, during my visit to his grove, how many he had feasted, he said, with a heavy sigh, that he had been able to feast only one hundred and fifty. He showed me the mango-tree which had acted the part of the bridegroom on the occasion, but the bride had disappeared from his side. ’And where is the bride, the tamarind?’ ‘The only tamarind I had in the grove died’, said the old man, ’before we could bring about the wedding; and I was obliged to get a jasmine for a wife for my mango. I planted it here, so that we might, as required, cover both bride and bridegroom under one canopy during the ceremonies; but, after the marriage was over, the gardener neglected her, and she pined away and died.’
’And what made you prefer the jasmine to all other trees after the tamarind?’
‘Because it is the most celebrated of all trees, save the rose.’
‘And why not have chosen the rose for a wife?’
’Because no one ever heard of marriage between the rose and the mango; while they [sic] take place every day between the mango and the chambeli (jasmine).’
After returning from the groves, I had a visit after breakfast from a learned Muhammadan, now guardian to the young Raja of Uchahara, who resides part of his time at Jubbulpore. I mentioned my visit to the groves and the curious notion of the Hindoos regarding the necessity of marrying them; and he told me that, among Hindoos, the man who went to the expense of making a tank dared not drink of its waters till he had married his tank to some banana-tree, planted on the bank for the purpose.
‘But what’, said he with a smile, ’could you expect from men who believe that Indra is the god who rules the heavens immediately over the earth, that he sleeps during eight months in the year, and during the other four his time is divided between his duties of sending down rain upon the earth, and repelling with his arrows Raja Bali, who by his austere devotions (tapasya) has received from the higher gods a promise of the reversion of his dominions? The lightning which we see’, said the learned Maulavi, ’they believe to be nothing more than the glittering of these arrows, as they are shot from the bow of Indra upon his foe Raja Bali ’.
’But, my good friend Maulavi Sahib, there are many good Muhammadans who believe that the meteors, which we call shooting stars, are in reality stars which the guardian angels of men snatch from the spheres, and throw at the devil as they see him passing through the air, or hiding himself under one or other of the constellations. Is it not so?’