(Last Updated on : 12/09/2009)
It is very true that nowhere in the world both near and distant is the custom of observing pollution. But it is very common in Southern India. When a child is born, pollution is said to attach itself to the parents, if it be a female child and to the whole of the Dayadis if it be a male child. For ten days they are untouchables. Even the vessels touched by them should be washed with pure water if others want to touch them or use them. The newly confined mother remains under pollution for a few months and she should not touch anything during the period. Menses woman should observe distant pollution. She should remain at a distance from others for three days. Then she should bathe in the river or village tank. Further, she should taste some salt and rice before seeing her husband and the young baby if she had one. Even babies of others should not be seen by a woman as soon as she bathes after the observance of the distant pollution unless she has tasted the rice and salt. The reason for the observance of this custom is said to be that if the woman, who bathes after her menses pollution of three days, sees a child before tasting rice and salt and becomes enceinte. The child she saw after she bathed would grow weaker and weaker with the development of the child in her womb and would die before she delivers of her child. It is also believed that harm would come to the husband too if she sees him as soon as she bathes, without tasting the rice and salt. They even go to the extant of saying that he would die if his wife conceives. Mothers with young babies are apprehensive of danger to their young ones and guard them carefully inside a room. The process continues till the menses woman bathes and tastes the rice and salt after the three days of observance of pollution.
If any one dies, many of his relatives are under pollution for ten days. Even after the tenth day, the pollution would not leave them, unless and until they bathe and certain ceremonies for the dead are performed. The Hindus think that sleep is a form of death and consequently as soon as one gets up from his sleep, he must bathe to shake off the pollution resulting from sleep. So one who has bathed should not be touched by others who have not bathed.
Another form of pollution is also recognized. After an eclipse all the people are supposed to be under pollution and every one, young and old, male and female, should bathe to be rid of the pollution. Those that have not bathed immediately after the eclipse should not touch those that have bathed until they have themselves bathed and become free from the pollution.
Certain sect of people is considered to be always under pollution on account of their birth. Whenever one touches any of them, pollution immediately attaches itself to him and he has to bathe to become purified of the pollution. Some people are considered to be highly polluted, for example, the Chandalas. It is not necessary that they should touch one to make him polluted. Even if they come almost near one, they pollute him and he will have to bathe and put on a new pair of sacred thread to be rid of the pollution.