Anantapur: While major parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were hit by Cyclone Gulab resulting in heavy rainfall, a peculiar scenario was witnessed in Anantapur district.
Farmers here offered prayers to the Rain God to save their outstanding crops from withering due to deficit rainfall. The centuries-old tradition of offering poojas and prayers to appease the rain god continued in the district situated in the rain shadow zone.
On Monday, a big procession of bullocks decorated with flowers was taken out through the street at Chandakacharla village in Madakasira mandal; and there was the ritualistic pouring of water on them. Over 200 villagers took part in the rituals by bringing in their decorated bullocks to the gram chavidi.
The procession was enlivened by traditional beating of ‘urralu’ (drums). The offering of water to the bullocks was the last part of the ritual at the ‘Boddu Rai’ or the traditional survey stone of the village.
High school committee chairman K Shesadri said the groundnut crop was withering due to deficit rainfall at the peak stage of the nut yielding. “We follow the centuries-old traditions and rituals to appease the rain god,'' farmer Anjappa said, adding he was happy that rain finally came.
Groundnut, the major crop of the region, was badly damaged on about 11 lakh acres during the present kharif season, this being the peak stage of the nut growth in the district. The farmers were worried over the deficit in rainfall in the region as this could result in a fall in the yield and loss to them in terms of returns.
At national level too, Anantapur is a top groundnut producing region. But, this season, 33 mandals were hit due to poor rainfall. Timely showers thrice are enough for the crop, but the region being in the rain shadow zone faces trouble often, farmer association leader Venkatrami Reddy said.
The ritualistic throwing of material including broken things along with ‘Karavu Rallu’ (drought stones) on the outskirts of other villages, which would finally be dumped into Penna and other rivers of Rayalaseema region and surrounding Karnataka areas, has been a common sight.
“Different traditions are part of the drought-hit areas to appease rain god and instill confidence among the farmers so that they do not fall into depression,” Dr. Harinath Reddy of Rayala Vedika opined.
Historians noted that ritualistic observation of traditions help people remain mentally strong even during tough situations. A majority of the villages in Rayalaseema region along with the surrounding Karnataka areas often faced worse situations.
The region suffered drought conditions for more than 72 years in its past 145 years' history. The high variability in Southwest monsoon rain is an indicator of risk associated with farming in this district. The normal rainfall for the south west monsoon season was 338.4mm. Anantapur district alone has more than 7 lakh hectares of dry land and it depends on seasonal rains.
The tradition of rituals is strong at Goddess Gangamma temples, which were mostly constructed closer to riverbeds and irrigation tanks. After offering traditional poojas, people would beat their mouths and make sounds to express their grief over the drought conditions....