Hindus, knowing the importance of rain, have been singing about it from the Vedic days “When the rains fail, the strong victimise the weak, for the waters, they are the law”, says the Satapata Brahmana. The great Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar compared rains to Amrita/ambrosia. He continues “if rains fail charities and devotional practices will not be observed. Festivals and daily worship of the gods will cease”. “For nine months, the sky drank the ocean’s water, sucking it up through the sun’s rays, and now gives birth to a liquid offspring, the elixir of life” (Valmiki Ramayana 4-27-3).
Rain by Havan, Rain by Women, Rain by Music, Rain by Rishis, Rain by King, Rain by Venus, Rain by Donkey and Frog weddings; Read about the strange Hindu practises.
“If there is one righteous person is on earth, rain will fall for that person’s sake” says another Tamil poem.
Rains are crucial in India, as the majority of the country’s population of over a billion depend on agriculture. When it doesn’t rain for a long time, Hindus perform strange things to bring back the rains.
1. Rain by Havan (Fire ceremony):
Hindus believed that the fire ceremony will make the heavens open. So they organised special types of yagnas/havans glorifying Varuna, the god of water sources. When there is a scarcity of rain priests stand in water and recite certain mantras praying to Varuna. It is called Varuna Japam. Twigs from certain trees are used with butter for this purpose. Hindus used mango or peepal twigs for the yagnas, along with butter.
2. Rain by Chaste Women:
Another strange belief is that chaste women can control and command nature. Tamil poet Tiruvaluvar said, ”A virtuous woman who knows no other god but her husband may command the very clouds to pour forth rain and they will do so”. (Ref. Tirukkural 55) We should not take it literally. If women are chaste, god will be pleased to send the rains to that place. Discipline in society was valued more than anything else.
3. Rain by Music
Hindus believed that particular a raaga (key) called Malhar will bring rains. There is a very interesting anecdote about one of the three great composers of Carnatic music Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835). Dikshitar, Thyagaraja and Shyama Sastry are regarded as the Trinity of Carnatic Music. Dikshitar was famous for his Sanskrit compositions. Once he travelled to a place called Ettayapuram in Tamil Nadu. Drought had caused havoc in the region. He invoked the Goddess Ambika by composing a song in the raga Amritavarshini. Immediately after he sang it there was a downpour bringing relief to the people of the region.
4. Rain by Rishis: Deer Horn Saint/Rishyasringa:
Rishyasringa was the son of Vibandaka and celestial nymph Urvasi. When the region of Angadesa was affected by a serious drought King Romapada was advised to invite Rishyasringa to bring rain to his kingdom. The king and his ministry worked out a curious plan. They sent beautiful girls to dance in front of him when his father was away. Rishyasringa who hadn’t seen a woman ever before became transfixed by them and followed them to Angadesa. The rain followed. This is not only a story of rain but also a story of human psychology. Sex is a natural instinct and nothing unusual about it. Ancient Hindus believed that there will be three rains every month if truth prevails in all aspects of life.
5. Rain by King’s Just Rule:
Tamil and Sanskrit literature say that the rains will fail a country where an unjust king rules. If the king is good, there will be plenty of rain and natural forces will abide by the king. Kalidasa and Sangam Tamil literature say that a deer and a tiger will drink water from the same source, forgetting their natural enmity in a place where there is rule of law. If the rains failed, people blamed the king.
6. Rain by Planet Venus:
Planet Venus, known as Shukra in Sanskrit (Velli in Tamil) is associated with rain. Its position in the heavens cancels the negative effects of other planets with regard to rain. So they keenly watched the position of Venus to forecast rain. The Mayans and other Mesoamerican cultures also gave much importance to Venus and linked it with the rains and the production of corn. Tamil Sangam literature has several references to Venus and rain. Venus appears in the morning for some time and evening for some time of the year. Tamils believed that Venus portends the prospect of rain for the year. (ref. Pathitrup. 24). In Purananuru, another anthology of 400 Tamil verses, all the verses about Venus are arranged together: 383, 384, 385, 386, 387, 388, 389 and 390. This arrangement of all Venus verses together shows us that they cared deeply about the position of Venus 2000 years ago. All the poets linked Venus with either rain or drought.
Tamil book Pattinappalai (lines 1 and 2) says that there will be drought when Venus moves southward. This is confirmed by three more poets (puram 117, 338, Pathitru.24)
7. Rain by Donkey Wedding and Frog Wedding
The village folk believe that a wedding of donkeys or frogs make the sky god happy enough to send rain. In recent years farmers of Patalur of Karnataka married off two donkeys. The donkeys entered wedlock in the presence of a priest. Like human beings the donkey bride and bridegroom were taken in a procession with colourful new wedding dress. The entire village wore a festive look on the wedding day of the VIPs! City people did not lag behind in such rituals. The people of Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, also performed a donkey wedding. Two donkeys, Ganga and Varuna, tied the knot in front of 100 guests. The donkeys wagged their tails happily.
Villagers in West Bengal caught and named two frogs Rama and Sita and performed their marriage. The frogs’ heads were smeared with Kunkum and 3000 people were fed in Madhya Baragari village. The frogs went in to the river for their honey moon! The marriage of frogs for rain is a local custom followed in Assam and Bangladesh as well.
8. Proverbs about Rain:
Apart from all of these beliefs there are lot of proverbs about rain. One of them is that if ants carry their eggs and go to raised areas rain will follow. If cuckoos sing and peacocks dance then there will be rain. Peacocks spread their feathers like fans when they see dark clouds. Hindus are keen observers of nature and used their knowledge for farming. If Venus is not visible (asthamana), there won’t be rain. When Venus is in Aquarius there will be plenty of rain and flooding. Venus’ northward journey will bring the rain according to Hindu astrology.
9. Cloud seeding
Scientists use Cloud Seeding to make rain. They place dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide, silver iodide or liquid propane in the clouds to make it precipitate. Havan and Yagnas (Hindu Fire Ceremonies) come very close to this planting of fro