These monsoon festivals show us just how diverse traditional festival culture is across the globe.
Different parts of the world celebrate its seasons in a multitude of different ways. From dancing for the Gods of harvest to making cats scream for rainfall (see: Thailand’s Cat Procession fest), one thing is undisputed – that from the earliest of times, the coming of rain after a dry season is a reason for celebration in all cultures. So The Sherp dug deep into the reservoir of culturally abundant information on the internet to bring you a list of eight authentic monsoon/rain-worship festivals from across the globe.
1. Ha Giang Praying For Rain Festival
Where: Ha Giang, Vietnam
When: 15-19 March
Vietnam’s Praying For Rain festival is celebrated by the Lo Lo people – an ethnic Vietnamese group – in the providence of Ha Giang. the festival is divided into two parts, the ritual and the festival. The ritual involves a traditional praying ceremony. It is a Lo Lo belief that this will bring an abundance of rain within nine days after the ritual. After this, the villagers proceed to break bread with customary alcohol as the girls of the village dance in their traditional costumes weaved with colorful patterns.
2. Bunga Dyah Jatra
Where: Bungamati, Nepal
When: 22 April
Bunga Dyah Jatra or Chariot of the Rain God Festival is celebrated heartily by the Nepalese folk in the honour of and in beseach of rain to Rato Machhendranath (the God of Rain). The festival is held in Bungamati, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, where it is celebrated every year in the hope of bringing on the monsoon rains. The people of Bungamati pull the gargantuan chariot of Rato Machhindranath during the festival as a symbol of devotion to the God.
3. Longtaitou Festival
When: 21 March
Longtaitou Festival, also known as the Eryueer Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival where the people pay homage to the dragon, which in ancient China, was considered the king of all creatures and in charge of rainfall. In some mythological origins of this festival, it is also said that it’s an appeal to The Dragon King for rainfall for harvest and prosperity of the people’s crops. The main event in celebration of this festival today is the temple fair that lasts until the third day of the third month of the lunar calendar.
4. The Rocket Festival
When: 8-12 May
The Rocket festival is celebrated in Thailand to mark the beginning of their rains and as an annual plea to the Gods for plentiful rainfall. This festival includes colorful rocket processions, traditional dance performances and even competitive firings of home-made rockets. the Rocket Festival is considered a grand affair in numerous villages and municipalities near the beginning of the wet season in Thailand.
5. The Traditional Cat Procession Festival
This festival is a bizzarre combination of fascinating and horrifying. Held annually in Thailand, this festival is based on the ancient belief that the cries of a female cat could draw a rainfall. Therefore, essentially, a beautiful feline is selected and entrapped in a woven basket and paraded around from house to house in the village whilepeople inside these houses come out to throw water on the cat, making it cry. It is also said that if there are those who choose not to partake in this ceremony, there will come a long drought instead of rainfall.
(Image Courtesy: thaiwaysmagazine.com)
6. Minjar Festival
Where: Himachal Pradesh, India
The Minjar festival of Himachal pradesh is a sort of thanksgiving ceremony to the god of rain as well as a prayer for good harvest. The celebration of Minjar includes dancing in traditional costumes and a Minjar parade that spreads the celebration through the villages. This seven-day festival also includes a Minjar Mela (Minjar Carnival) that serves as a way to get people together during the celebration.
When: Usually October-February
Makahiki, also known as the New Year festival, is essentially a tribute to the rain god Lono of the Hawaiian region. This ‘festival’ lasts four months and is called Makahiki season by many. During these months, the villagers curb work and spend their time practicing sports, skills, feasting and dancing. The entire purpose of this period of the year is to celebrate the bounty of land, which Lono provides using rain.
8. Festa Junina
Festa Junina, is a traditional Brazilian festival in honor of St. John the Baptist and to give him thanks for the rain. Along with rain, this festival gives the people an opportunity to celebrate other simplistic elements valued by them such as rural life, food, dance, etc. Festa Junina has a carnival-like atmosphere where the people dress in traditional Brazilian costumes and dance in couples around the big arena.