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At first, instead of the sacrifice of the horse, human sacrifice seems to have been in vogue, so that here also the idea of substitution found expression.
The offering of the soma ( Agnistoma ) -- a nectar obtained by the pressing of some plants -- took place in the spring; the sacrifice lasted an entire day, and was a universal holiday for the people.
However, that the gods were not entirely indifferent to man, but gave him their assistance, is proved among other things by the serious expiatory character which was not quite eliminated from the Vedic sacrifices.
The actual offering of the sacrifices, which was never effected without fire, took place either in the houses or in the open air; temples were unknown.
The triple pressing of the soma , performed at certain intervals during the day, alternated with the offering of sacrificial cakes, libations of milk, and the sacrifice of eleven he-goats to various gods.
The gods (especially Indra) were eager for the intoxicating soma drink: "As the ox bellows after the rain, so does Indra desire the soma ." The sacrifice of the horse ( açvamedha ), executed at the command of the king and participated in by the whole people, required a whole year's preparation.
Worthy of mention also are the sacrificial twigs ( baresman , later barsom ), which were used as praying twigs or magical wands and solemnly stretched out in the hand.