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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/496

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

favorable, the report is sent out, and in the course of twenty-three days thousands of Yezidees, with their wives and children, will have collected at Sheik Adi, bringing with them provision of a peculiar cake, for no kind of food must be prepared there during the pilgrimage. On the twenty-third day, the great Sheik comes out from the cave, takes his seat upon a stone, and salutes the people. Every person, thirty years of age and over, must bring an offering from his live-stock, according to his means. The Meshaich now come out of the cave and join the Emir on a high tribune, where, with the priests of the other orders, they form the Council of the Forty. An ox is stewed in a big kettle from morning till sundown, when at the call of the Emir a number of young men come up, and, plunging their bared arms into the hot mess, accompanied by ceremonial music, pull out the pieces of meat and distribute them among the Emir and the Council. The skin and flesh of the young men's arms may peel off to the bone, but those of them who die are at once enrolled among the saints; and in their honor the hunters of Sindiar and Chartie climb to the top of the mountain and loudly clash their shields together, or, more recently, fire volleys of musketry. This ceremony is called kabaah. Every one of the attendant faithful receives a share of the broth, making an offering equivalent to about a sixpence in return. After three days of the festival, the faithful are all baptized in the waters of the holy Semsen—a stream which issues from a cave into a broad, stone-lined basin—and after them the women and girls receive a dip. The water for drinking is taken from a pond into which the water flows from out of this basin. None can be drawn from the upper part of the source. Three of the holy images are ceremonially dipped in the brook, carefully dressed, and arranged around the Sanjak; each of the faithful takes a little of the sacred earth and presents his offering, and the festival is ended.

The religious ceremony of marriage consists in the couple going before the Sheik and eating a piece of bread which he has broken in two. A feast is given afterward, at which the attendants contribute toward a gift to the Myr, in commutation of his sovereign rights. Weddings are not celebrated in April, or on Wednesdays and Fridays. The relatives of a widow have a right to give her in marriage, whether she be willing or not, to the sixth time, after which she is at liberty; but, if she will pay the relatives as much as the new suitor offers, she discharges the account, and they have no further control over her. The marriage bond is dissoluble by death, by removal, by putting the wife away on account of transgression, and, without cause, after eighty years of it.

The priests claim the power to heal diseases through the inter-