A stone credited with possessing magical properties and
worn in parts of India as an amulet. This stone is black in color,
about the size of a billiard ball, and pierced with holes. It is actually
a fossilized ammonite, and it is valued according to the
number of its spirals and holes. It is said that it is found in the
Gandaki, a river in Nepal, which some, depending upon their
theological perspective, believe rises at either the foot of Vishnu
or the head of Siva. The stone is kept in a clean cloth and
often washed and perfumed by its fortunate owner.
The water in which it has been dipped is supposed to gain
the power to expel evil and is therefore drunk and greatly valued.
This water possesses other occult powers, and it is a necessary
ingredient of the preparations for those about to die. The
departing Hindu holds it in his hand and, believing in its powers,
has hope for the future and dies peacefully.