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THE CHILD CONCEIVED ON THE 29TH NIGHT OF THE MOON
On the 29th night of a lunar month the moon cannot be seen, for it has gone to its place. If a man lies with his wife that night and gets her with child, the child will be born with a sixth finger, or two heads, or bodily defect of a serious kind. On this night, no seeds must be sown, for the shiviahi who obey Melka ad e-Hshukha (the King of Darkness) have power in the dark of the moon, and they are evil. When the moon is full, the Melka d Anhura, the King of Light from the world of light, rules the world.
It happened that about seven hundred years ago a ganzowra went in to his wife on this night, and she became pregnant. When she was delivered of a bay, the child was found to have six fingers on each hand. The midwife (judayya) went to tell the ganzowra that he had a son, but spoke joylessly, knowing that a child with extra fingers is under the power of the shiviahi. The ganzowra asked her, "Why is thy heart not glad? Tell me the reason! I am happy that I have a son, why not rejoice with me?"
She replied, "The boy has six fingers on each hand."
The ganzowra was deeply afflicted, but he knew that the cause was that he had sown his seed on the twenty- ninth night of the moon, for in his heart he had been afraid that such might be the case, having made his count of days.
The midwife counseled him to cut off the extra fingers, and when he consented she took a knife and cut them off The child grew, but there were marks where the finger had been, in time he grew big, and his father made him a priest. Then the midwife went to the other priests and the yalufi (literate persons) and said, "Behold! This was a six-fingered child, and he is the son of the shiviahi."
They replied, "We know if and are troubled because of it, but we can do nothing!'
They spoke thus because the ganzowra was a rich and a powerful man.
The Mandai who knew the truth about the young man would not be baptized by him. Only those who were ignorant allowed him to perform the rites of baptism upon them. For with us, if a man has a bodily blemish of any kind he may not be a priest. If he has a skin disease, or any kind of defect, he is not pure and spotless and may not become a priest.
The young man married a wife, and she bore him a daughter, and soon after that the old ganzowra died, and his son became ganzowra in his stead, for he was consecrated by him before his death.
The new ganzowra's daughter grew and attained the age of eighteen years and was very fair to look upon. She had the habit of going into a garden to pick flowers and amuse herself, and this was observed by a black slave who, seeing that there was no one near her, made up his mind to ravish her. One Sunday she went, and the slave came and seized her and took her virginity away and destroyed her reputation (lit. face).
She came to her father and wept. He told her not to weep, and made her wife to another slave (a black man), so that there should be no cause to talk. He made a betrothal feast and gave a lavish meal to the Mandai, giving food to the poor, dispensing charity, and scattering benefits with great liberality. His house was full of guests.
Now just before this happened, there had been a visitation of plague, and all the Mandai priests had died of the plague--only the ganzowra was left!
The Nasurai, who are people of learning, spotless in matters of purity, who wear coats of cocoon silk (jazz or qazz natural white silk), and write holy books, men like darawish, were troubled and ashamed, and the yalufi with them. Many wept and cried out on the shame of what was taking place--namely, that a ganzowra's daughter should marry a black man.
It was Panja-the Feast of Five Days, which we call Paranaia (Parwanaia). Four of the Nasurai came together to consult as to what must be done. First, each man put on his rasta and immersed in the river, for at Paranaia (Parwanaia) every one must wear his rasta and make purifications in the river, so that they shall be especially pure. The gates of Awathur stand open during those five days and the prayers of the faithful receive an answer quickly.
So the four made their ablutions in the river, wearing their rastas, and began to pray, ibraha (M. brakha?). After prayer, they said, "Let us supplicate God to help us in this matter--perhaps he will send us 'uthri, or natri or melki." Then they prayed that this shame might be removed from amongst them into the garden by the river, and they thought they saw in the midst of it two beings made of light, who cast no shadow. They cried to them, saying, "Help us! This girl and her father have brought shame on us, upon all of us! Find us a way out!"
Now these two melki were named Zuheyr and Zahrun. They replied, "We will baptize you and ordain you ganziwri."
The Nasurai were rejoiced and exceedingly happy that the melki had appeared, and they entered the water and were baptized and ordained ganzivri, but quickly and without the usual prayers, because it was a very holy baptism which they received. They were henceforth able to ordain priests, to baptize, and to perform marriages. They asked the two melki, "What shall we do about this basran Sera? (basran Sira). They said, "He gives charity to the poor and needy so as to stand well in the opinion of the people and to whiten his face in the eyes of God. What can we do! He will have much seed--daughters and sons, and it will be difficult for us Mandai! Every Sunday he makes a feast for Mandai who are poor and hungry, and they go to him."
Answered with the melki "Go to his house next Sunday and let every many man take his food from that which is set before him but hold it in his hands and eat it not. The ganzowra will ask as he goes around among you "Why do you not eat?" Then you shall reply " Our purifications (whitening) is upon you! You have brought us harm--will not eat!" Throw the food back in the dish and rise and let not a single man remain in the hosh. When all have gone out the ground will open and he and his family will all be swallowed up.
The Nasurai rose and on Sunday they did as the melki had commanded them. None of the Mandai remained in the yard--al rose and left their food uneaten.
Then the ground parted and the ganzowra and his wife and his daughter fell in and were never seen more.
The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran By E.S. Drower Clarendon Press, Oxford,1937 (Reprint Leiden:E.J. Brill 1962) page 326-329
Narrator: Drower does not indentify
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