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July 1, 2012

Frog weddings performed in central and western India to appease rain gods

Chhatarpur/ Nagpur: In a ritual aimed at appeasing Lord Indra, the mythological rain god, residents in central and western India have been playing host to wedding feasts for frogs. Disappointed at the delay in the onset of the southwest monsoon and also over the less than favourable predictions of the weatherman, these people are now seeking divine intervention to give them respite. In Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh, the residents performed a traditional Hindu wedding, but the bride and groom were frogs, and not human beings. The wedding was performed under the supervision of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Lalita Yadav. A group of women sat with the frogs during their wedding, singing songs and dancing while the amphibians were anointed and led through the ceremonies that aimed to appease Lord Indra, the rain god. Pandit Munna Arjariya said that the ceremonies had been performed in accordance with the Hindu scriptures. “According to Hindu rituals, the wedding started with an anointment of vermilion, followed by a sacred offering, then the solemnisation of the union and a ‘Havan’ (fire ritual) was performed. The ceremony ended with the departure of the bride,” said Pandit Arjariya. A similar ceremony was performed at Nagpur , Maharashtra , where people gathered for a colourful ceremony, raining marigold petals on the frogs that were married off. The revellers said that rains were essential to the livelihood of farmers in the region. The officiating priest, Pandit Shivprasad Chaurasiya, said that the call of a frog brought rains faster, if ancestral lore was to be believed. “Even our religious scriptures mention that a wedding of frogs accelerates the onset of rains. Indeed, water is precipitated by a frog’s croaking and our ancestors have said so,” noted Chaurasiya. In Aurangabad , Muslims offered special prayers, seeking rains to water their parched fields. A cleric officiating at the prayers, Maulana Naseem Muftai, said that rain was a divine blessing that would come only if people acknowledged the divine presence in their lives. Earlier, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had mentioned in a recent statement that monsoon in 2012 would be 96 percent of the long-term average overall, down from its April forecast of 99 percent. A normal or average monsoon means rainfall between 96 to 104 percent of a 50-year average of 89 centimetres in total during the four-month season from June, according to India 's weather office classification. The monsoon showers are crucial for farm output and economic growth since about 55 percent of the south Asian nation's arable land is rain-fed, and the farm sector accounts for about 15 percent of a nearly $2-trillion economy, Asia's third-biggest.

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