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Tying the Chicken Bone

Loud wailing and crying by the child after birth indicate the dissatisfaction of the reincarnated duma, which is angry (kop hela, rusichi) or sad (mon duk). In order to calm him (santi korbarpai), the child’s father sacrifices a chicken and ties (tol; Rajan and Rajan 2001a, 52; the name of the ritual is thus totolti*) its little toe (chini angti) around the child’s wrist.15 Tsoru is not prepared from the meat; instead, the child’s father, an older daughter, or a neighbor woman cooks it as ordinary food, since the mother is forbidden to cook until the ritual that ends the period of ritual pollution.

“Ending Pollution”

Sutok sorani - “ending pollution” - is the child’s first ritual transformation after birth, one through which he or she accumulates social relationships and becomes part of a new community. The child receives tsoru for the first time and is given a name (na). These are attributes that distinguish a social person, as opposed to a newborn. If a child dies before receiving a name, he or she is buried at the site of the umbilical pit (bumli kal) without further ritual activity. After receiving a name, a child is cremated at the cremation site like all other adults/6 Further, sutok sorani ends the period of ritual pollution (sutok) and the restrictions associated with it, which impact mother and child most heavily/7 No one - except the bondki dokri - should touch them during the time before sutok sorani, and the mother should not cook. Not only the house where the birth took place, but all agnates of the local line (and their in-married wives) are affected by sutok, and affines do not eat in their houses during this period; to do otherwise would breach a taboo (dos). Sutok sorani is performed seven, nine, or eleven days after birth/8 Even-numbered days are associated with the rau demon, so the performance of the ritual on one of those days would have fever and illness (jor duka) as [1] [2] [3] [4]

its consequence. Sutok sorani can be divided into four sequences: 1. the dissari’s sacrificial ritual at the umbilical pit; 2. the purification ritual (chatreng singlei); 3. the name-giving; 4. the preparation and consumption of tsoru.

  • [1] While doing so, the father tells the child, “Don’t cry, [you] have come from my belly, remainfriendly” (kandibo nai, amo petru aschu, bol babre ro).
  • [2] There are some exceptions: for example, lepers and people who have died from the pox(takurani, bosont).
  • [3] The ritual impurity that follows a birth is also called pura sutok, in contrast to the sutok thatfollows a death (morla sutok). In both cases, members of the local line should consume neithermeat nor fish during this period.
  • [4] The ritual (duma balo’*) addressed to the spirits of the dead (duma), described above, isperformed on the previous evening.
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