Varanasi, June 4 : A group of shehnai players stood in knee deep waters at the Assi Ghat in the Ganga River in Varanasi and played Raag Megh to pray to Lord Indra and urge him to send rainfall.
Mahendra Prasanna, the chief shehnai player at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, said, "The heat wave is making life unbearable for all. We decided to appease Lord Indra with our music so that he can send some respite from the heat." That was on Monday evening.
Explaining the rituals, he said, "We played Raag Megh to appease Lord Indra and then performed 'Nariyal Bali' (symbolic sacrifice of coconut) to please Mother Ganga and 'abhishek' of Baba Vishwanath with milk to complete the puja."
The people in Purvanchal region of the state believe in several practices, mainly folklore that can ensure a good rainfall.
The most popular one is arranging the marriage of a male frog and a female frog. "This is a time tested formula and if this event takes place, you can be assured of rainfall within 24 hours. There is no scientific basis for this but it is a popular belief. However, it is now getting increasingly difficult to get a male and female frog in urban areas so the practice is becoming rare," said Acharya Vishnu Misra, a local priest.
The practice of women ploughing the fields without wearing any stitched clothes on their body is the most common practice adopted in the rural interiors to pray for rainfall. Women get up before sunrise and plough the fields. Men are not allowed in the fields when this ritual takes place.
Another popular practice is known as 'Kaal Kalauti' in which children roll in the mud and people throw water on them. The children chant "Kaal kalauti khele hai, Kale badal pani de/ kani kaudi ret mein, pani barse khet mein (we are playing kaal kalauti, black clouds bring water/ ancient coin (with a hole) in the sands, but bring water in the fields) while playing in the muddy slush.
Meanwhile, met officials have predicted another week of heatwave conditions before pre-monsoon showers bring some respite from the heat conditions in Uttar Pradesh.