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The Second Day

In the morning, the money from the tika gifts is counted in the dissari’s presence, and the total is officially announced. The participants then set out for the sindi buta, or more precisely, for a hill near the village where sindi grass (sindi buta) grows.

The Relationship to the Forest: Procession to the sindi Grass

The bridal couple is led in procession from the sponsors' house out of the village and into the “forest.” The Dombo musicians lead the procession, the groom carries a hoe and a fishing net, and the bride carries a basket containing liquor, the rings used in the ritual, and kordi rice cooked in the sponsors’ house. The bridal couple's two mamu and the sponsors' tsorubai, acting as representatives of the Twelve Brothers (all of whom are ideally present), accompany the procession.

Having arrived at a tuft of grass of the appropriate kind (sindi buta83), the bridal couple pretend to look for tubers with the hoe and catch fish with the net, an action called “looking for tubers, catching fish” (kanda kuna mach mara). The ritual stages the subsistence form of gathering in the forest and fishing in the river, thus looking back, in my interpretation, to the mythical time in which the Gadaba did not yet engage in agriculture and lived in the “forest.’^4

An egg is sacrificed by a senior member of the village, and the bride and groom offer tipali with liquor. The sacrifice is addressed either to the river gods (kamni) or to the Herder of the Forest (bon goudo), according to different accounts. A further ritual follows immediately, in front of a tuft of sindi grass. [1] [2]

Two rings made from sindi stalks and two metal ones, which their owners (members of the delegation) have temporarily surrendered, are placed at the foot of the tuft. After a joint invocation by the bridal couple, the tsorubai, the mamu, and a number of village brothers, an egg is sacrificed, beer is sprinkled on the sacrificial site, and the gods’ share of the rice the bride carried is presented on leaves (betisong). The sindi rings are placed on the right hands of the bridal couple, while the metal rings are slipped over two stalks of sindi grass. The bridal couple then take their places immediately in front of the tuft of grass, the others next to them, and all eat a platter of the rice. On the way back to the village, the company rejoices and sings, and a line of women dancing demsa snakes in front of the Dombo musicians. Back at the house, the women again greet the bridal couple with tika.

  • [1] Sindi buta is a grass with stalks that are very difficult to tear, used for binding the sheaves ofrice and millet at harvest. Its tubers (kanda) are edible.
  • [2] For example, in the myths collected by Mahapatra (1985, cf. 117), a story typically begins withan old married couple who live from gathering and fishing (dokra dokri puni roilai semti kadakuni mach mari jiilani...).
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