From the Blog

April 2, 2017

Using cats, porn & snakes to make rain in Thailand

What do rockets, snakes, porn, rain and cats have in common?

Why that’s simple Isaan!

 

What to use if rockets do not make it rain in Thailand

 

The people of Northeast Thailand are historically subsistence farmers and so rely heavily, on the annual rains for their harvest.

Around April –June each year, to give a gentle reminder to the gods and spirits that play their part in the people beliefs, many villages will employ, what can only be described at times as WMD, or weapons of mass destruction. See our post Rocket Festivals in Thailand

While rocket festivals by their very nature have to be planned in advance, there are a number of rituals carried out in the region that can be called upon, if the much needed rain does not appear.

 

Parades with a religious significance

Many villages, towns and provinces will have specific holy statue (normally of Buddha), or Buddha artifact, which they will carry in a quickly arranged and ad hoc parade, with the hope that this will spur on the gods to provide fon tok (rain).

 

Still others have their very own unique and personal way of asking the gods or spirits for help, by using bon, a sort of prayer-cum-bribe in which promises are made in return for divine assistance. If all else fails then things can get a bit wacky

 

 Sand Porn

 

Sand porn used to make rain

 

During the drought felt across large areas of the country in 2015, a number of the residents of Petchabun, Central Thailand, erected ‘sand porn’ sculptures to upset the gods, hoping the gods would start the rain to wash away the unsightly figures.

 

Using a cat to bring on the rains

 

cats used to make rain

 

The above picture shows Thai villagers in Nakhon Ratchasima, marching in a Cat Parade (or in Thai: Hae Nang Mew).

Under the scorching northeastern sun, dozens of Thai villagers, dressed in flowery shirts and traditional costumes, paraded an unwilling cat caged in a bamboo-woven basket door-to-door, to let neighbours who have waited patiently in their homes, the opportunity to gently splash water onto the feline.

All the while chanting an ancient verse: “Rain, rain, come pouring down. We barely had any this year. Without rain, our rice will die.” In response the people in the parade sing “Rain is falling. Rain is falling. A lot of rainfall Our rice fields and the grass are all green now.”

Legend states that if any house owner fails to throw water on the cat, the cat will become angry, instead of calling for rain it will use magic powers to prolong the drought. The ceremony ends after the procession has passed every house in the village.

 

Other cat rituals regarding Rain

The northern Isaan people also employ a cat when pleading for rain. On this occasion the selected cat is released into an enclosed area, around which are placed an array of earthen dolls of elephants, horses, cows, buffaloes, frogs, dogs, etc. Added to this collection of at times brightly coloured figurines, are offerings of food, drinks and flowers, finally  Buddhist monks are invited to chant sutras while the villagers pray for plenty of rainfall.

 

King Cobra

 

King Cobra used to make rain

 

In other parts of the region and possibly one of the oldest wives tale, relates to stealing a King Cobras eggs, which leads to the return of the rain

Some people believe that lack of rain is caused by the King Cobra. There thinking is the snake only hatches its eggs in dry weather. Therefore when there is no rain, the Cobra has made the rains stop so that it’s young will hatch. To over-come the snake’s control of the elements it must be killed, to enable the rains to begin.

To kill this particular snake, many men must work together. One man rides a fast horse through the fields looking for the snake and its eggs. Once found he quickly takes one of the eggs from the snake’s nest and chased by the snake rides back to the waiting villagers.

Both rider and the pursuing snake, are met by a large fire, within it is set a large pot of boiling water. The rider immediately throws the egg into the pot, when the snake sees what is happening to its egg, it jumps into the fire and dies. It is then that the rains will begin again.

 

While many people living out side Thailand, see these beliefs and ceremonies to be quirky or indeed weird, for the people of this wonderful Kingdom spiritualism and the Buddhist faith sit hand in hand and it is almost impossible to see one without the other.

 


For more on Festivals across Thailand for each month click on any of the Following:  JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember

 

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