Monsoons. A time when most of India turns green. Besides the beauty of the rain, it is also a matter of survival for people across the country. Farmers desperately need a good monsoon so that their crops flourish. In India, many rituals are conducted to appease the rain gods – prayers are chanted, specific songs are sung, and dances are performed. Some people in North India believe that covering themselves with mud will prove to the gods that they need the rain to wash away the dirt and clean themselves. However, there’s one rain ritual that extends beyond the human species. Here’s an invitation to read about the most unusual ceremony of all – the frog wedding.
There is a song from Assam that says that a farmer asked the clouds why they were not creating rain. The clouds replied that if the frogs had not asked (croaked) for rain, then why was he? A wedding is performed in an effort to make the frog ‘sing’! Conveniently, the monsoon happens to be the mating season for frogs, so chances of them making that vital call are high.
Weddings in India are big fat affairs. There are traditional rites, prayers, dancing, singing and food. Frog weddings are no exception. In most places (there are records of these weddings in Assam, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh, to name a few) a village elder chooses the bride and groom. The female frog is then anointed with oil and given a luxurious bath. She is dressed in finery – a beautiful piece of cloth is draped on her little green body, and a garland is put around her. Looking like the perfect bride, she is escorted by her baraat, who sing and dance and take her to where her ‘prince’ (also dressed up for the occasion) is waiting on a mandap. The young couple is blessed and joined in holy matrimony by a priest. With much fanfare and pomp, the newlyweds are then carried to a pond or lake and gently set free to begin their journey as husband and wife! After the frogs are on well on their way to their ‘hoppy-moon’, the celebration continues with a feast that everyone attends.
There is absolutely no scientific research into whether this weather-altering method works. However, it’s a sweet, though strange ritual that keeps the hopes for a good monsoon alive.
So the next time the monsoons hit your part of the world, run out and feel the cool rain on your face, take in the earthy smell of wet earth, and keep an ear out for the croak of a frog!
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant . She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.