新华网评:这六个字很暖心

The ceremony now begins. The dastour chants his prayers, throwing handfuls of rice all the time[Pg 17] over the young couple. A sheet is held up between the two, and a priest twines a thread about the chair. At the seventh turn the sheet is snatched away, and the bride and bridegroom, with a burst of laughter, fling a handful of rice at each other. A large open niche, supported on massive columns and enclosed by a carved parapet, built by some king with a long, high-sounding name, looks as if it were made of gold; the stone is yellow and flooded with sunshine, which, where the hard material is not too thick, shines through and makes it seem transparent, with the peculiar vibrant glow of molten metal. The shadows, blue by contrast, are as soft as velvet; twinkling sparks are lighted up in the angles of the architrave, by the reflected rays, like stars in the stone itself.

All along the narrow streets, paved with broad flagstones up and down in low irregular steps, stand the five hundred temples of Benares, and between them houses with carved stone porticoes. The ochre-coloured stone, of which they all are built, is toned in places by a coating of reddish purple, faded by the rain and sun to pale flesh-colour, with an undertone of the yellow wall; and this takes on a glow as of ruby and sunset fires in the watery ripple reflected from the rivera mingling of every hue of intense sunshine, filtering through the awnings spread over the balconiesa glory of repose, tender and clear, which seems to emanate from the objects themselves, and to envelop them in a fine powder of light.

At the last moment some porters, preceded by two sowars in uniform and holding pikes, bore a large palankin, hermetically closed, to the door of a first-class carriage, and softly set it down. The carriage was opened for a moment: I could see within a party of women-servants, shrouded in white muslin, who were preparing a couch. An old negress handed out to the porters a large sheet, which they held over the palankin, supporting it in such a way as to make a covered passage screening the carriage door. There was a little bustle under the sheetthe end was drawn in, and the sheet fell over the closed door. Another templecarved and pierced, and loaded and overloaded with ornament. In the crypt was a bas-relief representing the ceremony of marriage: the procession, the couple in front of the altar, the relations sitting round, all alike in the same crouching attitude, like toys set out by a little child. Then the model of a very famous temple elsewhere in India: columns, gateways, statues of the gods, all reproduced with microscopic exactitude down to the minutest details; and surrounding this tiny model a bas-relief of the most bewildering perspectivea plan of Satrunji with its fifty-two principal temples, its trees and sacred tanks; and as a pendant to this representation, a circular carving giving a bird's-eye view of the crowd, the same little doll-like figures[Pg 79] repeated again and again, coming to worship with arms and legs spread out, grovelling, as if they were swimming.

This, then, is the malady of the appalling namethe Plaguehardened glands in the throat or under the arm; the disease that gives its victim fever, sends him to sleep, exhausts, and infallibly kills him. Little beggar-girls with a depraved look, artful little hussies, pursued us coaxingly: "Give something, sahib, to pretty Cingalee girl, who wants to go over sea to where the gentlemens live."

On the very summit of the hill, all over the ravine which divided it from another, and which has been filled up at an enormous cost, and then on the top of that other hill beyond, temples are piled up, shining against the too-blue sky, with pointed roofs of stone, scorched by the sun or stained by the rain, and patterned with pale-hued lichens. Above each a spear stands up, impaling a metal ball. In infinite variety, differing in materials, style, and proportions, some quite small, as if they had sprouted round the base of others that are gigantic, there are here five thousand temples built by the faithful, who are incessantly erecting more, devoting great fortunes to the vanity of leaving a chapel that bears their name. Men were carrying mud in enormous turtle-shells that they used for baskets.

[Pg 27]