Photos and videos of people conducting frog marriages to “appease rain gods” flood social media every year at the slightest hint of an impending rain deficit. But if you think it’s just a one-off case of rain-related superstition, think again!
Today, we live in a world where science and technology have helped us decipher a few of the deepest mysteries of the natural world. But numerous social myths around seasons, weather, and nature continue to thrive in some parts of our diverse country. As we enter the second half of the monsoon, let’s take a closer look at some relatively popular myths around rainfall in our country and assess the possible reasoning behind them.
Myth 1: Wedding animals can influence rain behaviour
Let’s get this out of the way first. Every year, the monsoon news cycle sees frogs, donkeys and other domesticated animals being reluctantly traumatised in holy matrimony by farmers and farm workers, usually at times of rainfall scarcity.
While frogs, like other amphibians, interact with the rain because they prefer a damp and dark environment (frogs mate during rainy seasons), there is no scientific or logical proof to suggest that their marriage can sprout rain from our skies, to state the obvious. Such practices can often turn into animal rights violations as they involve forced capture and a long list of rituals.
Myth 2: Don’t eat seafood, curd, and certain other foods during monsoon
You may have heard many people echo the seafood part of this statement if you hail from the south or southeast Asia. This can’t be classified as a myth since it has backing in science, due to which many health experts also recommend the same.
The monsoon month provides ideal conditions for the spread of many pathogens in the water. Some of these have the capability of infecting fishes, which can transfer onto humans once consumed. Additionally, since many fish species spawn during this season, consumption at such a critical stage in their lifespan can adversely harm their natural ecologies, as well as lead to stomach infections from the fish eggs. However, if you maintain good hygiene and cook your fish properly, you can lower the health risks.
The consumption of curd or even ice cream, on the other hand, is completely fine if you are being careful about the drastic temperature gradient. In fact, curd is among the recommended foods due to its natural probiotic properties. Just make sure everything is thoroughly cleaned before you chow down.
Myth 3: The air is fresher during the monsoon season
While it is true that the monsoon in India is generally associated with cleaner air, the showers aren’t the main reason for this phenomenon. Studies performed in many parts of the world showed that rains only helped reduce the amount of small particles (PM 1.0-2.5) in the air by less than 10%.
For a significant cleansing effect, we would need at least heavy to violent, extremely heavy rains, which still only remove large (PM2.5) particles from the air by only about 30% and has a negligible effect on small particles.
In fact, our monsoons are relatively cleaner only because slow wind speeds and excessive pollution from the October-December festival season clogs up the post-monsoon and winter air. For Indian cities, it’s a case of all red flags appearing harmless when your outlook remains rose-tinted.
Myth 4: Other cultural and religious rituals to bring forth rain
India is home to many diverse cultures. As such, our agrarian nation has several bizarre rituals that aim to appease the rain gods and cultivate under the best conditions.
While some of these are relatively harmless, such as the Varuna Yajna, where priests immerse themselves into barrels of water for hours to please Lord Varuna, some remain questionable. For example, among remote tribes in Uttar Pradesh, a tradition involves sending naked minor girls to beg households for provisions, believing it would help rainfall in the region.
These practices are rooted in superstition rather than any logical reasoning and can create dangerous circumstances for their practitioners in some instances. While there is no evidence backing these traditions, a few harmless habits can help cope with anxiety in difficult times, even if they don’t yield desired results. Hence, there might be some merit to these practices after all.
And yes, you can go ahead and eat your food out of your pots and pans if you want to. Your lazy lifestyle will not influence the weather of your wedding day; this is my personal guarantee!
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