Rain-making in Orissa

I am in Sambalpur now, in Western Orissa. The temperature on 21st June was 47 degrees. The water level in the Hirakud dam is dangerously low and so there is very little electricity. 47 degrees and power cuts. Things can’t get worse than that.

On the 23rd there was a special ceremony which was performed by one of the temples on the banks of the river Mahanadi, to bring the rains which are late by a month. A marble staue of a bull was taken in a boat to the deepest point of the river and thrown into the water. It is believed that when the bull is drowning it cries out for help and seeing its plight Indra, the god of rain, comes rushing to save him and behind him come all the clouds.

However, the bull is the vahana of Shiva, so why does Indra come running to help him? My guess is that this ritual is an ancient one when they used to actually sacrifice a living bull to please the gods. With time animal sacrifices were abolished and the ceremony was changed slightly and now a statue of a bull is “killed”. Obviously, the beheading was replaced with drowning.

The strange thing is that since the 24th it has actually been very cloudy, although it hasn’t actually rained.

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