Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rain and Cricket in Madras

The water scarcity of Madras is world-famous. The last time the city had a normal monsoon was when K. Veeramani organised that grand annadānam at the Triplicane Parthasarathy temple.

The people as well as their benign rulers in the government tried all they could, but the drought never really came to an end. Jayalalitha sent up airplanes to seed clouds; the pilots sighted the first cloud only after reaching Cherrapunji. After this incident, Amma stopped smiling. Karunanidhi set up rainwater harvesters to catch water from even light showers; however, the sun blazed away without any break. This is when, in protest against the sun, the Kalaignar took to wearing goggles.

The sign was clear - the gods were unhappy.

One day it really seemed like it would rain. The sky was grey; the sound of thunder was booming; lightning was falling all over the place. This was the result of the Varuna Japa conducted (like this one) at the Kapaleeswara Temple: Priests stood in waist-deep water (obtained from distant villages at a great expense) praying for so many days to propitiate God Varuna. R. K. Narayan got inspiration for his novel Guide from this ceremony.

Finally, there was... ah, no rain. The priests had got their vedic gods wrong. Varuna may indeed at one time have been the bringer of rain. But later, as this article tells us, his stock fell and he was supplanted by his rival Indra, who was now the True Rain God. The varuna japa was a gross miscalculation - it was akin to greasing the palms of the official at the Public Works Department, when you should have been bribing the one at the Central Public Works Department.

So, you may ask why is it that everytime a cricket test or one-day international is scheduled or staged at Chepauk it pours in torrents. What, haven't you heard the crowd at the Chidambaram Stadium chant "Ind-ra! Ind-ra!"?


Anonymous said...

Had a gr8 laugh

Manjunatha said...

Nice post, Srikant. I always wondered why MGR, Karunanidhi wore dark glasses. Now I know why for Karunanidhi. But what about MGR?

Srikanth said...

Hey Prerit, thanks man!

Manjunatha, I will let you in on the secret answer that only we Madrasis know:
Short Version-
You must have heard of the "Madras Eye," for which dark goggles are worn.

Long Version-
MGR developed an obdurate form of Madras Eye, from constantly seeing the garish costumes of his co-stars in his long acting career. Till the mid-'80s, most actors had to wear dark glasses. It was an occupational hazard.

These days, few actors need to wear them - not because their co-stars wear less garish costume, but because they wear less... ah, costume.

Manjunatha said...

Garish costume...I can't agree more. I suppose the ruling colours in South Indian movies are red, yellow and black. I wonder what could be the better colours for South Indian landscape and skin colour. dull green, dull brown, dull purple?

Srikanth said...

Er, dunno... I only know to crib ;-).