It is no surprise to find that most people on earth love to hear when the rain pitter-patter on the roof. With the melody, it also brings the most desirable thing to earth, the water. But the current water crisis in the world is no joke and recent changes in weather make it obvious that the percentage of rain is dropping significantly over time. Since ancient times, people solely rely on rain mainly for irrigation, harvesting and other activities which require a timely water supply. However, modern irrational thinking has turned out to be more hypocrite as it is taking this natural phenomenon for granted.
Around the world, culture has given people many rituals and beliefs that life came from water and how humans should respect nature and rain. This rituals and belief are termed as “Rainmaking”- a weather modification ritual that attempts to invoke rain.
Here are the top 5 customs which prevails over the world related to rainmaking.
In South Africa, Nkelekele (rainmaking rituals) are being performed among the Xitsonga speakers. The Tsonga people (Tsonga: Vatsonga) are a Bantu ethnic group native mainly to South Africa and southern Mozambique. A study shows that Vatsonga has unique ways of managing drought which differ from other South African kingdoms and language groups. This tribe has certain beliefs and rituals mainly related to water. Rainmaking ceremonies
have always been practised among Vatsonga as a way of managing drought. They are strong believer in magic, which can be used for evil purposes (vuloyi), practised by evil servants (valoyi), with the purpose to harm the community. Good spirits brought rain and caused good things to happen, and evil spirits, controlled by sorcerers, caused great harm to the community. For in the African anthropological thought and mind-set “only God can make or produce rain”. Hence, ‘making’ rain is entirely Gods mandate nonetheless it is the responsibility of men and women to summon God’s rain. Along with the ‘magic’, indigenous Africans also practice ‘rain dances’ in order to pray to God.
The ritual science of rainmaking has dominated the African anthropological universe and is closely related to the everyday lives of the African people. The rites indicate the African peoples‟ pragmatic adjustment to nature and relation to the political, economic, legal, socio-cultural and cosmological environment and surroundings, through the application of empirical knowledge. They also systematically unpack the complex relationships between African humanity, cosmology, ritual, and power.
Picture courtesy: http://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_shangaan_tsonga.html
With their rapid advancement in technologies recently, China has managed to use modern rainmaking practices but this practice is not new in China’s history. In ancient China, Wu Shamans performed sacrificial rain dance ceremonies in times of drought. They also acted as intermediaries with nature spirits who were believed to control rainfall and flooding. The process for rainmaking by the Wu involves nineteen days of prayers to Shennong (God of agriculture and medicine who provided humans with many beneficial inventions). One interesting fact about Wu practice of rainmaking was they did not perform a single method to invoke rain, instead they perform different rituals according to a different season. Specific shamans were selected to pray to God with offerings and sacrifices. They need to do fasting before performing and had to follow strict instructions. As dragons were auspicious to Chinese, pictures of different colour dragons were being drawn in the rainmaking perform place.
Picture courtesy: https://upliftconnect.com/ancient-indigenous-rainmaking/
Predominantly an agrarian one, Thai society quite dependent on rain. Thai farmers believe that rain is a gift from the deities up above. So a ceremony to ask for rain from the
deities must be held. These rain-soliciting ceremonies are common, only slightly different in the northern, central and north-eastern regions of the country. This ceremony is popularly known as ‘cat parade’. The name has been given under the belief related to Cat. Farmers who join this ceremony had different beliefs such as, a cat is a symbol of drought and if the cat is wet that means drought will not come, few believe that cat has the power to make rain. Ancients believed that if the cat cries then it definitely going to rain as this animal fear rain and water. Farmers and participants need to bring their female cat which has black or grey fur and has to be put in a basket while processing around the village. The inhabitants need to splash water on the cats. The participants sing and dance excitedly while processing. They believed that rain will come within 7 days of time after the ceremony.
Picture Courtesy: https://www.festivalsherpa.com/8-monsoon-festivals-need-know-about/
The rainmaking rituals prevailing among Australian aborigines attract the attention of the filmmakers as ample short movies were being made in Australia since the 20th century. Altogether, five dances were performed – the rain-making rite, the Kipara or Wild Tur krv Dance, the Mamu or Dance of the Evil Spirits, the Tarrawunba Dance, and what the performers would call a “play about” dance. At the beginning of the rain-making corroboree, an old rainmaker is seated on the ground rubbing the sacred rain-stone, the ringili, across a flat boulder covered with blood. Seated on either side of him are three aborigines chanting magical songs. In aboriginal mythology, the pearl-shell rain-stone is a concentrated mass of kuranita (life essence) of the water. When fragments of it are re-moved by rubbing, they are believed to go into the sky and, aided by rain-making rites, form into clouds.
Picture Courtesy: https://upliftconnect.com/ancient-indigenous-rainmaking/
It is evident that native Zuni people in North America have practiced rituals and rain dances in order to receive rainfall when the weather is dry and possible drought can affect the place. These people often followed known weather patterns and they perform rain dances for settlers in return for trade items. The Zunis rainmaking dances are similar to ornate ceremonial practices, they were performed as potent rituals. The ritual is being passed down orally from generation to generation. These people mainly perform the ritual to satisfy the Kokopelli, the God of fertility and rain. Along with the dance, a few musical instruments is being played.
Picture Courtesy: https://the-journal.com/articles/86942