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Madhya Pradesh goes old school to appease the rain gods

Anup Dutta | Updated on: 9 June 2016, 16:36 IST
Rained in
  • Various parts of India including Madhya Pradesh have suffered from insufficient rains
  • While monsoons have come in as predicted this year, but all of India may not reap the benefits
Rites and rituals
  • Madhya Pradesh villagers are turning to age-old rituals to please Indra
  • Rituals include yagnas and a yantim yatra of a living man
More in the story
  • What is the government doing about this?
  • More bizarre rituals to please Indra

Monsoon have arrived in Kerala exactly on the date the meteorological department predicted, but the rest of the country might not be as lucky. Many parts of India have been reeling under droughts due to insufficient rainfall for the last two years and they fear that this year too might be the same.

This year, farmers across Madhya Pradesh have have taken it upon themselves to try and make sure they get bountiful rains. Their plan of action, however, is rather old school.

Also read: Monsoon hits Kerala: Witness the joy of the first rain in these photos

Indian farmers are observing age-old rituals aimed to please rain god Indra and to ensure plenty of rain.

Old traditions

On Saturday, 5 June, farmers of Dekhal village, in Anuppur, a tribal-dominated district situated in the north-eastern part of Madhya Pradesh, performed the Badri Indra Dev Puja.

According to farmer Hira Singh, the puja begins after the arrival of at least one village representative under the shade of an old Mahua tree, the common meeting place of the village.

"Carrying a coconut and a small bunch of paddy, they (villagers) arrive to Madiya Toli, a sacred place of our village. Here they offer the coconut and the paddy to appease the rain god," Hira Singh told local media persons.

Marriages on the card

Like they do every year, farmers of Khargone and Khandwa districts, will be organising grand wedding ceremonies for donkeys as a part of an old ritual.

"Under this age-old tradition, a female donkey is dressed in a bridal skirt while the groom is dressed in a dhoti," said Ashutosh Purohit, a senior journalist of Khargone district.

"It is believed that Indra - who is known as 'Jal Raja' in local dialect - accepts the invitation and showers rain after few days of marriage ceremony," said Ashutosh.

All marriage rituals are held under the supervision of a village priest, who chants ceremonial Hindu marriage hymns and completes the marriage ritual.

After the marriage ceremony gets over, the priest invites Indra Dev to attend the marriage ceremony and seeks his blessing, in the form of rains, for the newly-weds.

Women power

In several parts of Malwa, groups of women assemble near village temples. They will be singing bhajans to appease Indra till darkness covers the sky.

Once it is dark, the women will move towards a small piece of land. The land should not have any male members on it. The women will then plough the land while chanting "Megh maharaj barso, barso mahraj barso" (Oh rain god, fall on us, send us a plenty of rain).

Last rites

Similarly, members of the Indore Mandi Association are getting ready to take out an 'antim yatra' (funeral procession) of a live man to appease the rain god.

Each year, the antim yatra is taken out from one of the most populated part of the city - Rajkumar Mill Sabji Mandi.

According to a city-based astrologer, currently, planetary positions are not suitable to appease the rain god.

"When Mangal (Mars) and Shani (Saturn) are face to face, rainfall remains elusive. Monsoon will arrive, once Makar (Capricorn) will enter the phase of the Moon in the coming six days," said Acharya Rajesh.

High hopes

The weathermen on Wednesday predicted that monsoon is expected to progress in the coming week.

Also read: Monsoon to be delayed by seven days: MET department

"In all probability, monsoon will hit the state mid-June," the Regional Meteorological Centre at Bhopal said.

Government goes old-school

The lack of rainfall has even pushed the Madhya Pradesh Government to revert to ancient traditions to appease Indra.

In 2007, the government had launched a project titled 'Verification of the rain-induction techniques from the Vedas for social advantage' and spent lakhs of rupees to support it.

In 2008, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government organised 'soma yagnas' in several parts of the state to please the rain god. The yagnas were organised by a Maharashtra-based Veda Vigyan Ashram and the state-run Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology (MAPCOST).

A joint venture of MAPCOST and a Shivpuri district -based NGO, Gangachal Shiksha Samiti, organised yagnas at Chattarpur, Panna, Tikamgarh districts and one specially performed by CM Chouhan at Ujjain's famous Mahakaleshwar temple.

"We understand that these customs are a part of local superstitions, but the city desperately needs rain," a government official said.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

Also read: Monsoon to hit Kerala in next 2 days; No change in Delhi's temperature for the next 5 days

First published: 9 June 2016, 16:36 IST
Anup Dutta

Anup Dutta is a journalist based out of Bhopal.