They don’t care if they are up against El Nino — a periodic global oceanic weather phenomenon marked by warming of Pacific waters that can sap the monsoon of its strength. They have their faith and ploughs.
And on Sunday afternoon, women in Kharkahuni village under Chaka block, about 14 km from the here, put both to the test and use.
Chanting ‘kale megha paani de’ (bring rain o dark clouds), a dozen women braved the scorching sun and yoked themselves to plough, praying to rain god.
Villagers were out in numbers to watch the women perform what they said was a centuries’ old practice.
“It is a time-tested custom… it hasn’t failed me in 40 years,” said Dhiraaji, who only uses only one name.
“Earlier, we used to do the same in the night sans clothes,” she said. The rising crime graph, in and around the village, forced the change.
“The tradition originated during the times of Raja Janak,” said Satya Narain Bharti.
Janak was the ruler of Mitihla, which is in present day Nepal, and father of Sita, wife of Hindu god Lord Rama. Mitihla faced a severe drought and Janak ploughed the fields to please rain god Indra, explained the 60-year-old.
“I have been witnessing the practice for six decades. The only change is that now the women do it with their clothes on.”
Bharti was confident rains were a day or two away.
While he and rest of the village wait for rain, SS Ojha of geography department in Allahabad University tried to explain the truant monsoon clouds. Late snowfall in western Himalayas, which continued into third week of March, created high atmospheric pressure in north-west parts of India, he said. “It resulted in absence of easterly winds in the region, delaying the monsoons,” he said.