- Be careful when appealing to the gods. You may get too much of a good thing.
Extended droughts are just one side effect of climate change and they’re becoming more common. Case in point, southwestern Europe is currently kind of on fire.
But Europe’s not the only place struggling with the lack of rain. In India, with temperatures way above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, both commercial and subsistence farmers are desperate for rainfall.
But what is there to do? We have all kinds of technologies to combat climate change — from solar panels to carbon capture — but none of them can bring rain on demand.
It appears, though, that the people of Gorakhpur have found a solution. A group of residents from the northern Indian city gathered to perform a peculiar ceremony.
They performed a marriage ceremony for two frogs.
That might sound to you like an ineffective way to bring rain. But what if we told you that this ancient ritual worked?
The very next day after the wedding, the area got a severe rainfall alert. So who’s laughing now?
‘A Time-Tested Belief’
The happy day for the two frogs dawned on July 19. On that day, a group of people from Gorakhpur got together and went looking for frogs.
And what do you know, they found them. The people picked up a male and female frog and took them to a priest.
Hundreds of people gathered at the event location, where the wedding was carried out with all the pomp and circumstances of an Indian wedding. There was singing, priests chanted prayers, and everyone got together for a wedding feast afterward.
It seemed the happy couple may not have been so happy, though. Reportedly, the priest struggled to keep the newlyweds together throughout the ceremony.
Finally, the wedding came to an end. All that was left was to wait for the promised rain.
The rain was sorely needed. The frog wedding’s organizer, Radhakant Verma, said the locals were at the end of their rope.
“We have had a long dry spell and farmers, in particular, are upset over the delay in sowing paddy. It is a time-tested belief that frog weddings are held to bring in rains,” Verma told Daily Star.
Against what you might expect, the wedding ritual worked. Just the next day, on July 20, Indian meteorologists issued a notice of expected severe rainfall around Gorakhpur.
“Heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places with extremely heavy falls at isolated places is very likely,” said the India Meteorological Department.
Hey, if it works…
As Mr. Verma said, frog marriages are not a new phenomenon in India. They’ve been carried out for ages, and there are even two different ceremonies.
The variation the people of Gorakhpur performed is called Mandooka Parinaya. Although it’s more common in southern India, it’s by no means an exclusive ritual.
The goal of Mandooka Parinaya (literally “frog wedding”) is to appease Lord Indra, a Hindu deity of war, weather, storms, and rain. To this end, people catch a male and female frog who are respectively named Varuna (a god of water) and Varsha (meaning “water”).
The frogs get a traditional bath and appropriate wedding attire. The female frog even receives a toe ring, which according to Hindu tradition indicates a bride is married.
During the wedding, people sing melodic prayers and the ceremony proceeds much like a human wedding ceremony. Once the party is over, the frogs are sent to a nearby pond for a honeymoon.
The second ceremony, more common in northern India, is called Bhekuli Biya or Banger Biya. Both of these terms also translate to “frog wedding.”
The reasoning behind these ceremonies is a bit different. According to a tale, people once asked the cloud why they wouldn’t rain. The clouds answered that they couldn’t hear frogs croaking, so there’s no point in raining.
Frogs generally croak when trying to attract a mate. So, the people decided to marry two frogs to get them in a mating mood.
This ritual also proceeds according to local wedding traditions. The female frog waits as the groom arrives with his entourage and performs a traditional celebratory dance.
After some music, more dancing, and a feast, the newlyweds go into their pond. Then, people sit, wait, and pray that they hear a croak.
A Brief Marriage
As we saw in Gorakhpur, the ceremony seems to work. But sometimes it works a bit too well.
In 2019, the people of the village of Bhopal in central India performed a frog wedding. Lord Indra and/or the clouds must’ve been pleased because, within a few days, it started raining.
And then it kept raining, and raining, and raining. The downpour simply wouldn’t stop for two months.
So, the residents of Bhopal enacted a logical solution. If the frogs’ marriage had brought the rain, their divorce should put a stop to it.
But it’s difficult enough to get two frogs in the same place once, let alone twice. So, they used two frog figurines made of clay to represent the married couple.
According to all customs and traditions, a priest declared the frogs’ marriage null and void. Assistants finally carried the figurines away in opposite directions to symbolize their separation.
But Lord Indra clearly didn’t recognize the divorce as valid. According to weather reports from the time, the rain kept going for weeks after the ceremony.
Then, it finally stopped. Did one of the frogs end up fulfilling the “until death do us part” clause?
We will never know.