The Curious Case of the Frog Weddings in Varanasi

Imagine a bustling ceremony on the banks of the Ganga River in Varanasi, India. Not your typical wedding, this one features two rather unusual protagonists: frogs! The frog wedding is a unique and colorful tradition practiced when the monsoon rains are delayed.

Performed by Hindu priests at the sacred Dashashwamedh Ghat, the ceremony involves catching frogs and marrying them as symbols of fertility and prosperity. The lively event features participants dressed in vibrant attire, adorned with flowers and garlands. As priests chant mantras, the “bride” and “groom” frogs (often believed to represent Indra, the rain god, and Prithvi Devi, the embodiment of Earth) sit on a platform and exchange flower garlands. The highlight is the wedding ceremony itself, where the frogs are tied together with a sacred thread.

The Frog Wedding Ceremony

Just like a human wedding, the frog wedding ceremony is a detailed affair. Here’s a glimpse into the process:

  1. Selecting the Perfect Couple: The ritual begins with selecting two healthy adult frogs. This is an important step, as the frogs are believed to represent fertility and prosperity.
  2. Consulting the Cosmos: Following tradition, an auspicious date for the wedding is chosen after consulting the heavens and stars.
  3. Pre-Wedding Preparations: Just like a human bride, the female frog is anointed with turmeric paste (Haldi) and adorned with miniature decorations.
  4. The Grand Ceremony: The Frog wedding itself is a vibrant celebration resembling a Band Baaja Baarat procession, a traditional Indian wedding march with music and dancing.
  5. Happily Ever After (Frog Style): After the ceremony, the frogs are released back into their natural habitat, a pond or the Ganga River. Here, the community hopes the frogs will croak heartily, signaling the arrival of rain.
  6. The Human Celebration: While the frogs enjoy their honeymoon, the human participants gather for a celebratory feast with traditional music and dance.

Origins and Purpose of the Frog Wedding

Interestingly, there’s no mention of frog weddings in ancient Hindu scriptures like the Puranas or Vedas. Historians believe the tradition originated in Northeast India and spread across northern India. Here are the two main reasons for this practice:

  • Appeasement of the Gods: Farmers traditionally perform the frog wedding to appease the Gods of water and rain, particularly Lord Varuna and Lord Indra. By marrying the frogs, believed to have a connection to rain, they hope to encourage the frogs to croak, signaling the arrival of monsoon showers.
  • A Break from Monotony: The frog wedding also serves as a welcome break from the scorching summer heat and the monotony of everyday life. It’s a time for the community to come together, celebrate, and hope for a bountiful harvest.

When Frog Weddings Are Performed in Varanasi

Frog weddings are typically performed in the peak months of May and June, coinciding with the beginning of the monsoon season in India.

After the ceremony, the frogs are released back into the holy waters of the Ganga, believed to be an auspicious start to their married life. The human couple then performs a puja (ritual worship) to the river, offering gratitude for a good harvest and timely rains.

In recent years, the practice has also sparked debate, with some concerned about the well-being of the frogs. A lot of people have started using fake frogs for this purpose which is far better than harassing actual frogs.

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