Jan 18, 2009

The Frog Princes


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?

17 comments:

Chikki said...

We cant blame the villagers.can we? Ignorance probably leads to such acts.I am sure, some of them understand human rights but just cannot go against the majority.
This is where government should step in and educate the ignorant masses against such superstitions, or probably a NGO should take charge.

Indian Home Maker said...

Much more dangerous than the villagers are the people like this commenter who asks,
"What exactly is evil about this custom? blah blah ....traditions."
I receive such comments all the time, otherwise I would have thought this is an aberrations.

I just can't understand this attitude.

Indian Home Maker said...

Surbhi Thanks for bringing this to our notice. Normally I see and ignore such reports as something bad that just happens all the time - I know after reading your post I will never look an article like this and not see what it really means ...

Monika said...

i dont have words btu lost of questions... i hope u understand what i mean?

to start with what happens to the girl post this? i mean will they ever be married off to a human or they are forever frog wives????

Monika said...

BTW u are being blogrolled hope that's fine

shail said...

OMG. the last comment takes the cake.
A sorry state of affairs!
BTW you are blogrolled.

Surbhi said...

Chikki:
You're right, and that is what so frustrates me. Why on earth do people shut their sensory organs and senses when it comes to religious mumbo-jumbo. I mean, all it takes is a pinch of COMMON SENSE, which unfortunately is as uncommon as the unicorn!
I wonder how many of those in the govt have the sensitivity to even think beyond their own stinking skins, and how many of the NGOs are actually working for the society!
Thanks for the comment, though. Helps share the frustration.

Surbhi said...

IHM:
Exactly what I thought. In fact, I make it a point to read the comments on the TOI online articles. You'd be appalled at the level of stupidity, insanity or plain insensitivity always on display.

Surbhi said...

IHM:
I ignored them for a while, but I just couldn't help noticing how most of them involved brutality against females. That's when I decided to take them up.
Keep reading for more such stuff. Its like these things happen in a different world altogether!
On a lighter note, give it a rest to Manyata (oops, Mrs. Dutt), will you? ;)

Surbhi said...

Monika:
I perfectly understand what you mean, dear. Sadly, your guess as to what happens to the girls is as good as mine. Like I wrote, I wouldn't be surprised if they lead their entire lives as the frogs' wives. In fact, I'd expect that!
Thanks a ton for blogrolling me! As I say, the wider our network, the better.

Surbhi said...

Shail:
I know, we have all manners of morons in the world. You'd be amazed at the richness of variety.
Thanks for blogrolling me! Spread the word.

@lankr1ta said...

I remember feeling the wtf reaction at the last piece too. And then realized, there is no point arguing it with the person who wrote it. Nothing can be done, when misogyny is confused for nationalism or patriotism.

Surbhi said...

Alankrita:
Leave aside nationalism or patriotism, anything - I repeat, ANYTHING - is justified if you colour it with religion! Even patriotism sells better when packaged with religion!

Aathira said...

Loved your reply to the wise guy.

As you have said, when you have nothing much to offer or do, be offensive. Once people stop accepting and start revolting to crap like this, something might just happen to India.

Surbhi said...

Aathira:
Welcome to my blog! Appreciate your support!
As you rightly said, we must stop accepting and start revolting to such crap. However, that is what WE do. How about those who carry out these 'rituals'? This is so deep-seated into their heads and their psyche that not only will they not think it is wrong, but will prevent as many people as possible from protesting against it.
These are people who have been taught for generations that it is a necessary practice - and they have begun to believe it with all their heart. Its like saying '100 baar bola gaya jhooth bhi sach lagne lagta hai."

Majaz said...

Oh my GOD. FROGS?!!

Well. I shouldn't sound TOO surprised. We've got ladies in Pak getting married to cows and Quran Sharif. So there you go.

Surbhi said...

Majaz:
Welcome! Glad to have you here, and follow my blog. Thanks. :)
You know, I've always wondered what the fuss about India v/s Pakistan was, considering its the same people either side of the border. Thanks for empathizing; I understand the situation is no different (probably even worse, thanks to Taliban) the other side of the border.