Facing drought for the second successive year, people of an entire village in Tamil Nadu left their homes with all their belongings – even the entire livestock – to live out in the open for a day on Thursday.
The reason: it will please the Vanadevta (forest god), who will usher in the rain gods.
Nearly 435 people, including 200 women of Pachikaanappalli village in Krishnagiri district, about 365 km west of Chennai, were led by their village headman Samudi Gounder before sunrise on Thursday.
It’s part of a centuries-old custom, Urvalasai. The ritual, practised once in five years whenever the rains fail, required them to live among trees till nightfall, district officials told Hindustan Times over the phone.
“The whole village was evacuated, except for five people who took care of our homes,” said C. Ravi, a villager. His wife, Chinnapaapa, is the chairperson of the Pachikaanapalli panchayat, reserved for women.
Well past sunset on Thursday, the villagers returned. And before entering the village, a goat was sacrificed at the entry point, said Ravi. Then they cooked the meat, which was shared among all the 45 households of the village in a community feast.