Guwahati: At a time when Assam is reeling under extreme temperatures, residents of Dhamduli village in Assam’s Charaideo district are turning to an unusual ceremony in a desperate bid to summon monsoon rains and protect their crops.
‘Frog weddings’, a centuries-old rain-making ritual of celebrating the union of two frogs, are lavish ceremonies attended by villagers.
Sounds strange, but this is true. Frogs are married in some parts of India, according to a mythological ritual. There is a purpose behind this. In extreme summer, when there is no sign of rain, a ritual is performed to please Lord Indra. In Hindu mythology, Lord Indra is the god responsible for rains.
Vermilion is applied on the forehead of the female frog to mark her as the life partner of the male one. This is an old-age tradition that if frogs are wedded, then Lord Indra will be pleased and monsoon will come.
Assam was reeling under devastating floods a month ago. Now, a drought-like situation prevailing all across the state are forcing people to harp on the custom of holding frog marriages to appease the rain gods.
Hundreds of people in Dhamduli village came together and performed the frog marriage in order to please the rain god so that a year’s hard work in paddy fields is not destroyed in the prevailing drought-like situation. Villagers in large numbers, including children, attended the frog wedding organised in the traditional Assamese way.
Like the traditional marriages, the bride and groom frogs were kept in two different houses and dressed up gorgeously. Hundreds of villagers accompanied the ‘groom’ that was carried in a beautifully decorated handcart to the ‘bride’s’ house where Vedic rites of the marriage were accomplished. Soon after the rituals were complete, the ‘bride’ was taken to the ‘groom’s’ house in a beautifully decorated hand cart and, finally, both of them were released in a pond nearby for matting, as believed by locals.
A mass feast with delicious dishes was organised, accompanied by music and Bihu dance and participated by villagers during the marriage ceremony.
Many people strongly believe that frog weddings cause rainfall. Most of the villagers expressed that soon after the marriage, dark clouds hovered over the sky and eventually there was a heavy downpour in the entire area which lasted for a long time.
It is said that half a dozen wild frogs were caught from the jungle, usually on the day of wedding and after that some experienced village elders identify the bride and the groom.
Frog wedding is popularly known as ‘Bhekuli Biya’ in Assamese (‘bhekuli’ meaning a frog and ‘biya’ meaning marriage in Assamese language).