PRAYING TO THE RAIN GODMyanmar is dependent on the monsoon rains for growing rice, the staple food for her people. The farmers depend on the rains to plant the paddy and villages rely on the rains to replenish their ponds and lakes where water is taken for drinking, cooking and other household chores. Normally the black rain clouds gather above the Bay of Bengal by mid May and by June monsoon rains are in full swing in the delta. Then the farmers get ready to go to the paddy fields. But sometimes the rains are late.
When the rains are late there are several ways to make the rains come. No modern method of seeding the clouds, no. But more ancient and, believe it or not, reliable ways are used. The town people ask the monks to recite the "Nga Yant Min Sutta" and circling around the town.This Holy Sutta is supposed to be uttered by Lord Buddha in one of his earlier Lives when he was incarnated as a Nga Yant(a species of butter fish). Reciting this sutta is thought to be conducive to bring the black rain clouds to pour their loads on to the parched land.
Near Mandalay, looking towards the East, is a solitary hill, named Yankin Taung. where Lord Buddha was believed to have lived there in one of his previous incarnations as a nga yant. Wheezing up uncountable steps will get one up the top of this hill. There are many Buddhist monasteries on the top as well as natural springs. And there is also a deep cut in the hill, called nga yant dwin(a hole for the nga yant) where a big nga yant fish statue is seen. Pilgrims paste gold leaves on this statue and pray to it.
Another option to bring the rains is more fun. Teams gather to play tug-of-war between them, with appropriate offerings to the Rain God Moe Khaung Kyaw Swa Nat. This simply consist of the customary coconut and three hands of banana, plus some eugenia leaves as offering. The nat kadaw(spirit medium) pleads to the nat for his intervention before the competition. Everybody cheers their favourite teams with much clapping and encouragements.
But somebody still has yet to explain the co-relation between the tug-of-war and the Nat Moe Khaung Kyaw Swa. However, be it coincidence or not, rains had fallen soon after these ceremonies had completed.