When times are tough, sometimes you’ve got to take a leap of faith. And that’s exactly what this group of people in Udupi, Karnataka did by deciding that the best way to deal with a drought was to hold a wedding ceremony for two frogs.
On June 8, the Udupi Citizens’ Forum arranged a Hindu wedding ceremony for two frogs in a tradition called ‘Mandooka Parinaya’ (marriage of frogs). This uncanny custom was carried out because the members of the forum believed that it would appease the rain gods, which would then save them from the drought-stricken condition they are currently in.
The frogs were caught from neighbouring villages and christened Varuna (the god of water) and Varsha (which means rain). The married couple was selected through a procedure that involved inspection from the department of Zoology in Manipal. After the selection procedure, the two lucky lovers were taken to the hotel where the wedding was to be held on a tricycle. The organisers went all out with the celebrations and even sent out wedding invitation cards and invited guests to offer their prayers and support.
The amphibians were all decked out in custom-made traditional wedding garb. The female frog, Varsha, was even made to wear a Mangalsutra, an ornament that symbolises marriage, and a toe ring on her webbed feet, something that Hindu brides are made to do to indicate they are married, and to regulate their menstrual cycle and maximise chances of conception. A volunteer sang ‘aarathis’ or melodic prayers and the two frogs were wedded in a festive atmosphere that featured a feast and over a hundred people. Finally, the frogs were sent off by the good citizens on a honeymoon to Mannapalla, a village near Manipal, so they could, you know, get to know each other and go forward with the rest of their happily married lives.
Now this ritual may sound strange to say the least, but it’s actually pretty common in many parts of India. In fact, the people of Assam held a similar ceremony in 2016 in a bid for a better monsoon season. Historically, people have done everything from hanging on hooks to stripping naked to please the rain gods. Even today, while some prefer participating in a frog dance to ensure enough rain for the season, others immerse themselves in giant water-filled vessels with their phones. All in the hope of some larger force making it rain, driven by deep-seated socio-cultural superstitions that give people hope and a sense of control over matters that are out of their hands.
And now that this wedding wagon has sealed the fate of those two frogs, weather forecasts are predicting that the heavens will soon pour down on Karnataka. But is that because they set an auspicious hour for amphibian matrimony or because that’s kinda how clouds and seasonal change works? As long as someone’s getting wet, it probably doesn’t matter.
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