Rain-calling rituals around the world
Rain is a vital resource for life on Earth. Proper rainfall is ideal for the environment to flourish. However, rainfall is erratic and unpredictable in many parts of the world, leading to droughts and famine.
While excessive rain causes floods and other issues, droughts seem more devasting, causing temperature rise and damage to crops.
For centuries, people around the world have developed many rain-calling rituals to bring rain to their parched lands.
In the past few days, Bangladesh is witnessing the highest temperature in its history. While rain is dearly wanted here, Islamic scholars are performing the Istikhara prayer to seek help from Allah. Such prayers and rituals are present in almost every religion, culture and ethnicity.
Let's see some of the oldest rain-calling rituals that are being practised to date.
The Rain Dance of the Native American Plains Tribes
The rain dance is an ancient rain-calling ritual practised by the Native American Plains tribes, including the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho, for centuries.
The ritual involves singing, drumming, and dancing in a circle for hours, wearing traditional clothing and feathered headdresses, and holding eagle feathers in their hands. The rain dance is believed to summon the rain gods and bring much-needed rainfall to the dry and dusty plains.
The Hindu Varuna Yajna Ritual
The Varuna Yajna ritual is a Vedic Hindu rain-calling ceremony that is still performed in parts of India today. The ceremony is dedicated to Varuna, the god of water in Hinduism, and involves chanting hymns, offering oblations to the fire, and reciting prayers to invoke the rain. The ceremony is typically performed during the monsoon season when rainfall is needed the most.
The Frog Dance of the Australian Aboriginal People
The frog dance, identical to Bangladesh's folk culture of the frog wedding ritual, has been practised by the Australian Aboriginal people for thousands of years. The dance is performed during the dry season when the frogs are silent. It is performed to awaken the frogs and bring the rain.
The dance involves imitating the movements of the frogs and making frog-like sounds, wearing body paint and animal skins and carrying spears and boomerangs.
The Chanting of the Tibetan Monks
This is another century-old ritual. Whenever there is a drought, the Tibetan Monks start chanting by reciting ancient mantras and prayers to the gods and goddesses of the sky and water. The monks believe their chanting can purify the atmosphere and create the conditions necessary for rainfall. The chanting is often performed on mountain peaks, where the monks believe they are closer to the heavens.
The Abhishekam Ritual of South Indian Farmers
Farmers in South India specially perform this rain-calling ceremony only to pray for rain that'd help increase their yield. The ceremony is dedicated to Lord Indra, the god of rain in Hinduism, and involves pouring water and milk over his idol.
The goal is to please the rain gods and bring rainfall. It is typically performed during the summer months when rainfall is scarce.
The Vodou Rain Dance of the Haitian People
The Vodou rain dance is a rain-calling ritual seen among the Haitian people. It's an exotic dance performed during droughts. The performers hope to invoke the Loa, the spirits of the Vodou religion, to bring rain. The dance involves drumming, chanting, and dancing and is performed by both men and women.
The Mayan Chac Chac Ritual
The Chac Chac ritual is an ancient rain-calling ceremony performed by the Mayan people of Central America. The ceremony is dedicated to Chac, the Mayan god of rain, and involves sacrificing animals, burning incense, and chanting prayers to invoke the rain.
While there is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of these rituals, people continue to perform these out of their beliefs. They also serve as a reminder of the deep connection between humans and nature.