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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/497

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THE YEZIDEES, OR DEVIL-WORSHIPERS.

position of the saints, and by the water of the brook Semsen and the earth of Sheik Adi. They say that Rejel-el-Senne occasionally sends his plague-soldiers to vex men; when they repent of their sins and confess them, the saints intervene to vanquish the pest-soldiers and drive them away.

The souls of deceased believers are supposed to go into paradise to dwell with the seven gods, Melek-Taus, and the saints. Sheik Adi is the door-keeper there. The souls of unbelievers and of sinful Yezidees go into the bodies of asses, mules, and dogs.

Upon the death of a Yezidee, his mouth is at once filled with the holy earth of Sheik Adi. The body is buried under the direction of a sheik and the kavalin. The body having been laid in the grave, facing the east, some sheep's dung is scattered over it, and the grave is filled up with earth. The women mourn, sing dirges, beat their breasts, and tear their hair for three days; and, if a traveler comes along, he is entertained for the salvation of the soul of the deceased. The mourners and their friends afterward meet in the house of the deceased, where the Kovechek dance and sing to Melek-Taus till they look him in the face, when they are seized with convulsions, and fall senseless to the ground. This is a sign that the soul of the deceased has entered paradise. The whole winds up with a funeral feast.

If a man has an evil-disposed son, he secretly buries his wealth, so that it shall not be wasted after his death, and marks the spot with some sign. When he is born again, to lead a new life, as his religion teaches him is to be the case, he will go and recover his treasure.

New-year's-day is a great festival, and is always observed on the first Wednesday after the vernal equinox. On this day, God collects in paradise all the saints and their relatives, and sells the world's coming year at auction. The highest bidder is made Rejel-el-Senne, the ruler of the year, and has the direction of men's fates according to his will, and the distribution of plenty and happiness, want and disease. On the morning of the previous day the Kochek calls from his house, imploring from Melek-Taus blessing upon all who are within hearing of his voice. The young people then go to the mountains and woods to gather red shkek flowers with which to adorn the doors of their houses; for no house not thus ornamented can be secure from the afflictions of the year.

The legend of Sheik Adi's call to be a prophet relates that, as the holy man was riding over the fields one moonlight night, in his twentieth year, there suddenly appeared rising from the ground, in front of the tomb of Abu Rish, a vision of two camels having legs four cubits in length, with heads like those of buffaloes, hair long and bristly like a thorn-bush, large round eyes