Indian farmers fight bad monsoon with frog marriage

KOLKATA, India Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:43pm BST

Villagers solemnise a frog marriage at Madhyaboragari village, about 85 km (52 miles) east of eastern Indian city of Siliguri July 19, 2009. The frog marriage is a traditional ritual observed by the rural folk to appease the gods to bring in rain and ensure a good harvest. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Villagers solemnise a frog marriage at Madhyaboragari village, about 85 km (52 miles) east of eastern Indian city of Siliguri July 19, 2009. The frog marriage is a traditional ritual observed by the rural folk to appease the gods to bring in rain and ensure a good harvest.

Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

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KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Indian farmers are falling back on a trusted local method to bring badly needed monsoon rains -- marrying off two frogs.

Villagers in West Bengal state pooled their money together this week to marry Ram and Sita, two frogs named after India's most revered mythological couple from the epic Ramayana.

Following an ancient Hindu belief, the frogs' heads were smeared with vermilion paint and the pair were held up in the air in a ritual in front of a traditional clay candle.

"We feted about 3,000 villagers and solemnised the marriage with every single ritual," Shobin Ray, head of a local council in Madhya Baragari village, about 750 km (470 miles) north of state capital Kolkata, told Reuters by phone.

The women at the wedding fasted beforehand and then invited the river to join the ceremony and give its blessing, as is customary in Bengali tradition, he said.

India this year suffered its worst start to the vital monsoon rains in eight decades, causing drought in some states.

(Reporting by Sujoy Dhar; Additional reporting by Rupak De Chowdhuri; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Bryson Hull and Jeremy Laurence)

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