a pocket full of posies
husha busha ...........we all fall down..."
This is how we sang this little song as gibberish ...We grew up in the church colony built around the Church of the Good Shepherd, which is more than a hundred years old in Southern India. Our neighbors were also those with whom we sat in the Church pews. Each family has a name they carried after the names of missionaries that served in Southern India... some of the missionary names that are part of our family names are for example...Caldwell, Roberts, and so on..
With skirts swirling as we twirled around holding hands, singing these words in the midst of our giggles, our ears would wait for the cue in the most loved words "fall down", and our sparkly eyes would see our little frames falling into the mud in the heat of the day with the rising dust...after having danced around in circles. For us "falling" as children into the dust meant fund and laughter.
The regional language Tamil Bible was an initiative of a German missionary, who wrote the Tamil Bible. Tamil is the closest language to Hebrew. Appreciation of God's Word in Tamil is as close as reading in the original Henew Until this translation was completed, it must have been difficult for believers to access God's Word in all of its full meaning. All the hymns from "songs and solos" were also translated into regional languages for Church worship services. With the Indian educational system based on the European system and standards we grew up with this little song Ring a ring a roses....and learnt of the true meaning only years later on. The song originated in another part of the world, and with kids singing it eventually as a children's song in a different part of the world. (and without knowing the meaning!!)
For those of you who would like to know the origins of this song..Read on...
The great plague was across the country in Europe and had covered it like a thick dark blanket and it had come in as a thief in the night unannounced and silent and had been dreadfully treacherous. The plague had left more than 25 million people on the isles and in Europe dead and the mortality rate was very high. In May 1664 few isolated cases were reported ..but this was ignored. One year later on the same day there were 590 people who had died the same month. By June the number of dead rose to 6137 and in July over 17000 had died. In August the death toll was over 31000 and panic swept the place. More than two thirds of the remaining people had fled from their homes and to somehow save themselves from death. This was also called the Black death for 2 reasons. The body of the victims became dark with black blotches covering the skin and also because of the darkness and blackness of ignorance that surrounded the knowledge of the cause nor cure.. Some people had come up with the idea that the polluted air brought about this plague and so they started to carry flower petals in their pockets thinking with the superstition that this fragrance would ward of the disease. Groups of victims who were able to walk were taken outside the hospitals and holding hands they would walk around in circles around the rose gardens breathing in deeply the aroma of the blooming plants. In some cases the patients would not be able to get out of bed and so the attending physician filled their pockets with the bright colored petals from the English posy plants. While visiting the patients they walked around the bed sprinkling the posy petals on and around the patient. As death came close another superstitious activity was followed. ..as some felt that if the lungs could be freed from pollution life could be sustained and so they places some ashes in a spoon and brought it near the nose causing the patient to sneeze a couple of times.. But neither the sneezes nor the flowers postponed death until the real cause was found which was the bite of fleas from diseased rats!!
Anyway this terrible experience gave birth to a little song that children sang at play..(including me !..on the dusty ground in Southern India......) The song was first heard from the lips of a soiled old man pushing a cart in London picking up the bodies along the alley ..the original song he sang was this: .
"Ring around the roses
A pocket full of posies
Ashes, Ashes, We all fall down"
For all of use who sang this song in some version or the other..without knowing the meaning...as husha and busha ........well it is ashes and ashes...........
....... superstitions do not liberate, save nor count...only Christ does.
Devotional written by Shanti Samuel.