Mrunal Manmay Dash

India is a country of diverse beliefs. So much so that both the scientific approach and faith in spiritual power go hand in hand in this country. With all the advancements in science and weather forecasting, there are still some people in the remotest parts of Odisha who use their faith to decide the course of rain every year.

Tribals of Koraput district have been cultivating land for the past 200 years not as per the weather prediction made by the Meteorological Department but by their headmen during Biripani Yatra, which takes place at Gadapadar village under Jeypore block every year.

As per the tradition, the tribal headmen of Bumiya, Parja, Vatra, Amananty, Penthia, Gadva, Soura, Kondh and other communities gather at Gadapadar during the yatra to worship Goddess Biripani in the village. After the completion of rituals, the priest sacrifices goat, chicken, pigeons before the Goddess.

Following the animal sacrifice, the priest marches in a procession to the nearby Kantamali hill where the tribals believe the rain God resides in a stream near a cave. Only selected people are allowed to perform rituals at the ‘chuan’ (source of stream) for the forecast.

Later, one of the priests puts his right hand inside the ‘chuan’ chanting mantras to invoke the rain God and the local Goddess to show them the rain forecast sign.

It is believed that if the ‘chuan’ gets filled with water after the priest puts his hand in it, then there would be good rainfall and good harvest. If there is less water in ‘chuan,’ then there would be medium rain. If the ‘chuan’ is found dry, then there would be a drought.

A local at Gadapadar said, “This puja has been taking place since the reign of King Vikramaditya who ruled the Jeypore Kingdom. This puja is held every year after Sital Sasthi, after which Goddess Biripani blesses us resulting in rain and subsequent farming.”

“Maa Biripani also warns us about any impending danger to our village,” he added.

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