Thai village uses Doraemon plushy in prayer tradition for rainfall

Thai village uses Doraemon plushy in prayer tradition for rainfallThai village uses Doraemon plushy in prayer tradition for rainfall
via Thai PBS News, tkasasagi
Residents of a village in Thailand’s Nakhon Sawan province have revived their traditional rain-calling ritual using a Doraemon plush toy instead of a live cat, amid a prolonged dry spell and intense heat ravaging Thailand and Southeast Asia.
Key points:
  • About 200 residents from three villages in Nakhon Sawan province’s Phayuha Khiri district, northern Thailand, gathered to perform the tradition after reporting severe droughts in multiple areas on April 29.
  • Dr. Tarin Clanuwat, a research scientist with a PhD in Japanese Literature from Waseda University, also shared a picture of the tradition on X on April 29, writing in part, “I hope it rains soon.” Clanuwat picture has gone viral, receiving over 16.5 million views and 219,000 likes since it was first posted.
View post on X
The details:
  • Videos from the procession show a group of villagers parading a caged plushy of Doraemon, a popular Japanese anime character depicted as a blue and white cat from the future with the ability to store various-sized objects in his front pocket.
  • The tradition, called the Hae Nang Maew (“female cat parade” in English), is a customary practice among Thai farmers, dating back hundreds of years.
  • It involves parading a cat in a cage accompanied by drums and lively music and splashing it with water. Since cats are averse to water, the tradition believes that the cat’s cries could entice the rain gods to bring forth rain and end the dry spell.
  • If the practice does not produce rain, the locals would continue to hold another parade until rain comes.
  • The substitution of the live cat with a Doraemon plushy was made to preserve the essence of the ceremony without causing potential distress to an actual animal. Other lifeless alternatives have also been used in the past, such as Hello Kitty dolls.

How people reacted:
  • Several Japanese users on X found Clanuwat’s picture amusing, with one user writing in their comment, “If it’s Doraemon, he might bring out some secret gadget to make it rain.” The user’s comment is referencing the character’s nearly endless pocket filled with futuristic inventions for different occasions.
  • “Even without ears, they still recognize it as a cat, and Doraemon also seems happy somehow,” another user wrote.
  • “Doraemon looks happy. I hope there is some blessing,” another X user commented.
The heatwave:
  • Thailand has been experiencing a severe heatwave throughout April, with record temperatures exceeding 40-degree Celsius (104-degree Fahrenheit) in many provinces, according to data from the Thai Meteorological Department.
  • Despite the traditional belief in the rain-calling ritual, meteorological experts warn that Thailand’s dry weather conditions are expected to persist until at least mid-May, delaying the start of the rainy season.
  • The intense heatwave in Thailand, which began surging in February, has already caused 38 deaths from heatstroke, the country’s Health Department announced on Sunday. Most of the deaths occurred in the Northeast Thailand region.
  • Dr. Atthapol Kaewsamrit, deputy director-general of the Health Department, advised residents to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight, refrain from drinking alcohol, wear light clothes and drink plenty of water, especially in severely affected areas.
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