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In the Sanskrit, the word asrij signifies both "blood,” and "saffron." In the Hindoo wedding ceremony, in Malabar, "a dish of a liquid like blood, made of saffron and lime," is held over the heads of the bride and groom. When the ceremony is concluded, the newly married couple sprinkle the spectators with this blood-like mixture;2 which seems, indeed, not only here but in many other cases, in India, to have become a substitute for the covenanting blood. Reference has already been made to its use in connection with the covenant of the nose-ring; and the saffron colored cord of the wedding necklace, among the Brahmans, has also been mentioned.3

A still more remarkable illustration of this saffron mixture in lieu of blood, in formal covenanting, in India, is found in its use in the rite of "adoption." In India, as elsewhere throughout the East, the desire of every parent to have a son is very strong. A son is longed for, to inherit the parental name and possessions, to perform the funeral rites and the annual ceremonies in honor of his parents; and, indeed, "it is said in the Dattaka-Mimansa, 'Heaven awaits not one who is destitute of a son.'" When, therefore, parents have not a son of their own, they often formally adopt one; and, in this ceremony, saffron-water seems to

1 See Monier Williams's Sanskrit Dictionary, s. v.

2 See Pike's Sub-Tropical Rambles, p. 198.

3 See pages 77, 165, supra.



take the place of blood, in the sacred and indissoluble covenant of transfer. So prominent indeed is this element of the saffron-water drinking-as the substitute for blood-drinking-in the covenant of adoption, that the adopted children of parents are commonly spoken of as their "water-of-saffron children." "Is it good to adopt the child, and give it saffron-water?" is a question that "occurs eight times in the book of fate called Saga-thevan-sāsteram." Formal sacrifices precede the ceremony of adoption, and mutual feasting follows it. The natural mother of the child, in his transfer to his new parents by adoption, hands with him a dish of consecrated saffron-water; and both the child and the blood-symbol are received by the adopting father, with his declaration that the son is now to enter into all that belongs to that father. "Then he and his wife, pouring a little saffron water into the hollow of their hands, and dropping a little into that of the adoptive child, pronounce aloud before the assembly: 'We have acquired this child to our stem, and we incorporate him into it.' Upon which they drink the saffron-water, and rising up, make a profound obeisance to the assembly; to which the officiating Brahmans reply by the word, 'Asirva

1 This Oriental custom gives an added meaning to the suggestion, that Christ was sent to bring us to his Father, "that we might receive th adoption of sons (Gal. 4: 5).


dam.'" It seems to me in every way probable, that in primitive times the blood of the child adopted, and of the parents adopting him, was partaken of by the three parties (as now throughout the East, in the case of the blood-covenanting of friends), in order that the child and his new parents might be literally of one blood. But, with the prejudice which grew up against blood-drinking in India, the saffron-water came to be used as a substitute for blood; even as the blood of the grape came to be used instead of human blood in many other portions of the world.

In China, an important rite in the marriage ceremony is the drinking of "the wedding wine," from "two singularly shaped goblets, sometimes connected together by a red silk, or red cotton, cord, several feet long." After their worship of their ancestral tablets, the bride and the bridegroom stand face to face. "One of the female assistants takes the two goblets from the table, and having partially filled them with a mixture of wine and honey, she pours some of their contents from one [goblet] into the other, back and forth several times. She then holds one to the mouth of the groom, and the other to

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1 The citations above made are from Roberts's Oriental Illustrations of the Scriptures, p. 574, and from Dubois's Des. of Man. and Cust. of India, Part II., chap. 22; the latter being from the Directory or Ritual of the Purohitas.



the mouth of the bride; who continue to face each other, and who then sip a little of the wine. She then changes the goblets, and the bride sips out of the one just used by the groom, and the groom sips out of the one just used by the bride, the goblets oftentimes remaining tied together [by the red cord]. Sometimes she uses one goblet [interchanging its use between the two parties] in giving the wine." Rev. Chester Holcombe, who has been a missionary in China for a dozen years or more, writes me explicitly: "I have been told that in ancient times blood was actually used instead of the wine now used as a substitute," in this wedding-cup of covenanting.


Again, Professor Douglas says that, for a thousand years or so, it has been claimed that, at the birth of each two persons who are to be married, the red cord invisibly binds their feet together; which is only another way of saying that their lives are divinely inter-linked, as by the covenant of blood.

In Central America, among the Chibchas, it was a primitive custom for the bridegroom to present himself by night, after preliminary bargainings, at the door of his intended father-in-law's home, and there let his presence be known. Then the bride would come out to him, bringing a large gourd of chica, a fermented drink made from the juice of Indian corn;

1 Doolittle's Social Life of the Chinese, I., 85–87. 2 China, p. 72 f.

"and coming close to him, she first tasted it herself, and then gave it to him. He drank as much as he could; and thus the marriage was concluded."1 Among the Bheels of India, the drinking of the covenant is between the representatives of the bridegroom and the parents of the bride, at the time of the betrothal; but this is quite consistent with the fact that the bride herself is not supposed to have a primary part in the covenant.2 It is much the same also among the Laplanders.3


Among the Georgians and Circassians, and also among the Russians, the officiating priest, at a marriage ceremony, drinks from a glass of wine, and then the bride and the groom drink three times, each, from the same glass. The Galatians wedded, with a poculum conjugii, “a wedding cup.' In Greece, the marriage ceremony concludes by the bride and the groom "drinking wine out of one cup." In Switzerland, formerly, the clergymen "took two glasses of wine, mixed their contents, and gave one glass to the bride,


1 Piedrahita's Hist. New Granada, Bk. I., chap. 6; cited in Spencer's Des. Soc., II., 34.

2 Malcolm, in Trans. Royal Asiat. Soc., I., 83; cited in Spencer's Des. Soc., V., 8.

3 Wood's Wedding Day, p. 142.

▲ Ibid.,

P. 66 f.

5 Ibid., p. 124 f.

6 Rous and Bogan's Archeologiæ Atticæ, p. 167. 7 Wood's Wedding Day, pp. 36, 39.

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