PATNA, India (Reuters) – Farmers in an eastern Indian state have asked their unmarried daughters to plow parched fields naked in a bid to embarrass the weather gods to bring some badly needed monsoon rain, officials said on Thursday.
Witnesses said the naked girls in Bihar state plowed the fields and chanted ancient hymns after sunset to invoke the gods. They said elderly village women helped the girls drag the plows.
“They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains,” Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar’s remote Banke Bazaar town.
“This is the most trusted social custom in the area and the villagers have vowed to continue this practice until it rains very heavily.”
India this year suffered its worst start to the vital monsoon rains in eight decades, causing drought in some states.
NEW DELHI, Feb 12 (Reuters Life!) – A hardline Hindu organisation, known for its opposition to “corrupting” Western food imports, is planning to launch a new soft drink made from cow’s urine, often seen as sacred in parts of India.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Corps, said the bovine beverage is undergoing laboratory tests for the next 2 to 3 months but did not give a specific date for its commercial release.
The flavour is not yet known, but the RSS said the liquid produced by Hinduism’s revered holy cows is being mixed with products such as aloe vera and gooseberry to fight diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Many Hindus consider cow urine to have medicinal properties and it is often drunk in religious festivals.
The organisation, which aims to transform India’s secular society and establish the supremacy of a Hindu majority, said it had not decided on a name or a price for the drink.
“Cow urine offers a cure for around 70 to 80 incurable diseases like diabetes. All are curable by cow urine,” Om Prakash, the head of the RSS Cow Protection Department, told Reuters by phone.
Prakash, who is based in Hardwar, one of four holy Hindu cities on the river Ganges where the world’s largest religious gathering takes place, said the product will be sold nationwide but did not rule out international success.
“It is useful for the whole country and the world as well. It will be done through shops and through corporates,” he said.
A stampede at a hill-top temple in western India killed more than 147 people and wounded 55 others who had gathered to celebrate the start of a religious holiday on Tuesday, police said.
More than 25,000 devotees were trying to reach the 15th-century temple through a steep and narrow pathway when the stampede occurred around dawn Tuesday, officials said.
The Chamunda Devi temple is located inside a fort atop a hill in Jodhpur, the second-largest city and a popular tourist destination in the Indian state of Rajasthan.
Authorities do not know what prompted the rush, but state Police Chief K.S. Bains rejected as “baseless” reports that it was triggered by rumors of a bomb.
“But one thing is clear that a cascading effect did take place as it was a slope where it happened,” he said.
India has been on edge in recent days after a string of deadly bombings across the country.
The crowd had gathered to celebrate the start of Navaratri or nine nights. For nine nights and 10 days, Hindus worship the various forms of a Hindu goddess.
Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria told reporters that police had planned for the event and deployed “enough” officers for crowd control. But the massive numbers overwhelmed them.