Women in Bihar plough fields, sing to please rains gods

Women in Bihar plough fields, sing to please rains gods

Scanty rainfall in July has upset farmers who were hopeful of a normal monsoon this time after facing two consecutive drought years. Hence, the ritual.

According to Shanti Devi, a farmer's wife, men are not allowed to visit the fields when women plough. "In fact, men are prohibited to watch them in fields," she said.

The ritual, known as Harparauri, is being performed in villages like Chanda and Simri. "It is an age-old ritual, performed when rain gods are angry," said Saneev Singh, a farmer of a village in Chakki block.

"It is a belief that the ritual would turn rain gods happy, leading to heavy rains, which is essential for bumper crops," Singh said.

Another farmer, Prabhu Tiwari, said that "farmers are worried and a repeat of a drought-like situation is haunting them". He said that women have vowed to continue the ritual until it rains very heavily.

In Bihar, only men are known to plough fields, symbolising hard work.
The state has recorded 441 mm rainfall since June 1 against the season's average of 462 mm. "The rainfall is five percent less than normal," state Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh said.

Last year, the Bihar government declared all the 38 districts drought-hit due to a rainfall deficit of nearly 22 percent. In 2009 as well, the government declared 26 districts drought-hit.

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