In a bizarre ritual, two minor girls from the remote Pallipudupet village in Tamil Nadu's Villupuram district were married to frogs on Friday night. The ceremony, an annual feature during the harvest festival Pongal, is conducted 'to prevent the outbreak of mysterious diseases in the village'.
The girls, both 7, dressed up in traditional bridal finery of gilded sarees and gold jewellery. They wed the frog 'princes' in elaborate ceremonies amidst chanting of Vedic hymns. The priests garlanded the brides and tied the magalsutras on behalf of the frogs. The girls were pronounced as wives of the amphibians before the sacred fire at the auspicious hour. The ceremonies concluded in sumptuous feasts.
And like any traditional Indian wedding, there were 'baraatis' and 'gharaatis' as well! The villagers living in the western part of the village acted as relatives of the brides and those from the eastern part acted as relatives of the grooms. Relatives of the brides came in a procession to the grooms' adopted homes to fix the marriage and later went to the temple pond to catch the frogs. The frogs were tied to long sticks bedecked with flowers, as they awaited their resplendent brides.
Sadly, unlike the popular fairy tale, the ugly frogs could not have turned into handsome princes when their brides kissed them. That was at least a 'fairy tale', though. The poor amphibians were thrown back into the temple pond after the ceremony.
An elderly woman of the village said the ritual was practised traditionally for several generations to 'ward off evil spirits and diseases' from the village. The district collector R Palaniswamy says he deputed a team led by the local social welfare officer to visit the village and submit a detailed report. The district administration, he says, proposes to evolve 'comprehensive schemes' to enlighten the villagers against such evil and ignorant practices.
Funnily, this evil and ignorant practice has been going on right in front of his unseeing eyes, year after year.
Source: The Times of India website
Now, here's the reactions from various readers of the news:
"The only thing missing in this report is whether the persons performing these rituals were thrown in the pond with the frogs. Ignorant goons. Please leave kids alone!"
Nope! The villagers are still on terra firma.
"Why attrocities only on females? These folks should start marrying off the males now. Poor goverment policies. Shame on people and netas of India."
Yes! Why are ONLY females always married to dogs, trees, snakes, stones and what not? How on earth are THEY always responsible for anything that does or may happen (in this case outbreak of 'mysterious diseases)? And why should it happen at all - to anyone, male or female?
"This is a violation of frog rights! :)"
Sarcasm at its best! Sadly, the smile doesn't come.
"It is astonishing and sad that such bizarre practices are still practised in this era. I am curious to know if these girls are allowed to marry 'human beings' later on or are they supposed to live life praying for their 'Frog Prince'."
Trust me, I won't be surprised if they live their lives as lawfully wedded to and faithful wives of the animals.
And, finally, to add salt to the wound comes this comment that left me seething:
"This looks exactly like an article a Western newspaper would publish about India. What exactly is evil about this custom? Was anyone harmed here at all in this ritual? Is this more evil than universal Christian custom of eating Jesus' flesh and blood at church (transubstantiation)? The only thing evil here is the reporter's bizzare hate towards harmless age-old Indian traditions."
Perfect! The best defense is offense - so start mudslinging other religions and traditions. Christianity has its own set of superstitions - agreed. So instead of sitting pretty and talking big, fight against those as well!
And how was no one harmed? What about the girls? Their dignity? Their self-esteem? Their rights as a human? Their respect as an individual? Oh, I forgot, the poor girls were not supposed to have any of those.
Just to think (let alone believe!) the girls are in any way responsible for what happens/ happened/ will happen/ can happen/ may happen in the village is tantamount to harming them. How would you like it, Mr. wise guy, if someone blames you for the tsunami of 2004 and forces you into holy matrimony with a whale?