As the southwest monsoon plays truant, villagers in Hadauti region of Rajasthan have fallen back on rituals to appease the rain god.
Meteorological department figures show the Hadauti region, comprising Kota, Bundi, Baran and Jhalawar districts, have received an average rainfall of around 80 millimetres -- less than normal -- since June. Last year 216mm rainfall was recorded in the same period (June 1-July 8). Western Rajasthan has got more rain after monsoon arrived in the state in June.
Worried over scanty rain and its fallout on kharif crops, farmers and villagers in Hadauti have started performing ‘Ghas Bheru’ ritual to lure the rain god.
Informing about the ritual, Khairabad Panchayat Samiti deputy chief Motilal Ahir (36) said, “When rain god Indra gets annoyed and rainfall is delayed, the ritual of Ghas Bheru is performed; a large rock is worshipped as Ghas Bheru ji to woo the rain god.”
A day before the ritual, villagers do not cook food in their homes; they prepare meals in agricultural fields or outside the village and worship the deities in village temples.
The rock worshipped as ‘Ghas Bheru’ is kept on a big wooden board, which is then tied with ropes and pulled by women and children.
“After taking rounds of the village, the Ghas Bheru is established again at the place from where it was taken for performing rituals,” said Motilal, himself a farmer.
Shyam Bihari, a farmer of Borina village in Kota where the ritual was performed, said, “The Ghas Bheru ritual was earlier performed during an outbreak of a disease or a crisis situation. Now, it is usually performed to appease the rain god.”
Another ritual is also performed to appease the rain god. Young girls carry a deity made of clay over their heads and beg for a cup of water from every household for rains.
“The Ghas Bheru ritual is related to the sentiments of the villagers and farmers who desperately want rain; often rain follows the ritual,” said Hadauti Kisan Union general secretary Dashrath Kumar.
“Delay in rains is hurting the prospects of kharif crop cultivation; farmers have sown crops in many areas of Hadauti region but rains are elusive.”