PAHARIS OR PAHARIAHS (BHAUGULPOOR).
The Paharis or Pahariahs of Bhaugulpoor are a race, inhabiting the hilly and jungly country (the name signifies hillman) of that large territory.
The Pahariah is much shorter than the Sonthal, slighter in make, nearly, if not quite beardless, and of a much less cheerful disposition than his neighbour, with whom he contrasts unfavourably also on the score of industry. His great delight is to lounge in the nearest markets, decked out with beads and chains, his hair fastidiously oiled, combed, and ornamented. He cultivates as little land as possible, preferring to undergo the fatigue of hunting, travelling for miles to get a shot at a deer or peacock, or in roaming about in search of honeycombs, wild yams, or other edible roots.
His religion consists in the adoration of an invisible spirit called Bedo Gosain, who made heaven and earth ; and is worshipped through the medium of various gods, visible and invisible, the former being wooden images, stones, trees, heaps of bones, and skulls of wild animals. He believes in a future state in the form of transmigration : the good, after a short period of happiness with Bedo Gosain, being born again to positions of great wealth and power ; the bad being condemned tor many years to inhabit the vegetable kingdom, or in graver cases to be bound and suffer eternal punishment in pits filled with fire and maggots.
The Paharis encourage polygamy, the maximum number of wives being four. The re-marriage of widows is allowed ; and fornication in either sex is punished by fine, sacrifice, and consequent feasting.
They are largely employed as coolies (or luggage bearers) by persons travelling between the hill and plain country.