In India, the Absence of Rain, Frogs had Their Wedding
- by John B. Monteiro

Sweet are the uses of adversity;

Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

-William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English dramatic poet.

Not all of the toad family are ugly and venomous as, for instance, the pair of frogs, a male and a female, lined up by residents of Udupi, the temple city of coastal of Karnataka, to marry them off to appease the rain god in quest of the elusive monsoon rains. But, first the facts.

Unlike conventional marriage ceremonies aimed at conjugal bliss, the marriage between ‘Varun’ from Indian southern state of Karnataka's Kalsanka in Udupi and ‘Varsha’ from Kolalagiri in Kilinje village was solemnised for a much bigger cause of appeasing the rain god. Praying for rains, the frogs were declared as husband and wife in ‘Simhalagna’, an auspicious hour, at the unique marriage ceremony organised by Udupi Jilla Nagarika Samithi and Pancharathna Seva Trust at Kidiyoor Hotel complex on June 8, 2019. Nityananad Olakadu, General Secretary of the Trust, who solemnised the marriage, explained that ‘Mandooka Kalyanotsava’ ritual was conducted to please the rain god.







Udupi district and the rest of coastal Karnataka had not received rains and had been experiencing severe water scarcity. Residents of Udupi have been battling a water crisis for the past few months and the situation worsened to the point of crisis. The organisers as a precautionary step, in order to prevent same sex marriage and thus invoke the wrath of gods, had taken four frogs to the department of Zoology at Manipal to ascertain the sex of the marrying couple. After the zoologist had identified the male and female frogs, two frogs were singled out and taken out in a procession in a tricycle to Kidiyooru Hotel complex for the marriage ceremony - performed as per Hindu rituals.

The procession which begun from Maruthi Veethika passed through Mitra Hospital and Old Diana Circle. A volunteer, Amitha Girish, offered ‘Arathi’ to the frogs and tied ‘Karimani’ and toe ring on the female frog which was also decked from head to toe in specially designed nuptial garments. Marriage invitation cards were also printed on the occasion and guests were encouraged to offer prayers to the rain god as an ideal gift to the newlyweds.

After the marriage, the frogs got their freedom and were released at Mannapalla, Manipal. The marriage of frogs was followed by a feast. Hundreds of people, including members of women Bhajan troupes, had gathered at the venue. Olakadu explained that the ritual of marrying frogs to invite rains was being carried out since ages and it is not novelty. He said that there is a strong belief that there will be rains after the marriage of frogs.

The thing is praying for rains, despite the MET saying that the monsoon would be delayed and would reach coastal Karnataka by June 10, is no consolation with depleted storage in dams and dried wells and lakes. This was a great opportunity for politicians and ministers to offer special poojas and get themselves photographed/videographed and get projected in the media. But, in the Udupi frog marriage rituals, there was only projection of the wedded frog couple, delicately held in hands, and to that extent it was not man/woman projection in the media – as the frogs are tiny compared to the humans holding them.

So the humble frogs, which sometimes end up dead in the zoology labs or star restaurants, for once had their day in the sun on public display in the temple city of Udupi.

On June 10, without the usual thunder and lightning that marks the start of monsoon, there were passing showers – apparently part of a cyclonic episode forecast by the MET – a curtain-raiser or teaser if we can call that. As I conclude writing this article on early morning of June 11, there has been a steady downpour for a couple of hours – sans lightning and thunder associated with the onset of the monsoon.

As Shakespeare would say: All is well that ends well!

 

Comments

  • Kieth Barrington
    Wed, Jun 12 2019

    Uffff....this is quite funny LOL...but interesting. Here is UK I think too many frogs got married, at least three world-cup matches abandoned...

    Report Abuse  Reply Agree DisAgree

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