A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rain Gods - the deities

Last time, we read about the primeval mankind’s explanation of rains. We will now take up a few examples of rain gods in different cultures.
Zeus and his thunderbolt
According to the Greek mythology, Zeus, who was the King of gods, was also the god of the skies and rain. Zeus’s weapon was the thunderbolt which he would hurl at anybody who would displease him, thus the thunderbolt became a dreaded natural phenomenon and till date, a thunderbolt destroys wherever it falls.

The early Egyptians considered Min to be their god of rains whose symbol again was the thunderbolt. This god was quite similar to Zeus, though not in the hierarchy of the pantheon. Min was the rain god who aided the growth of grain and was thus also a fertility deity. During the later times, the Egyptians also worshipped Tefnut, who was a goddess. The name of the goddess is derived from the root tef, which meant “to spit or to be moist” and nu, which stood for the “sky” or the “waters”. Together it implied the waters which came from the sky. This also implied that Tefnut was worshipped as the rain-goddess, though, there isn’t much clarity on her role as a rain-deity. However, she is again sort of an exception as all the deities of rain were male unlike Tefnut.
According to the Aztec mythology, Tlaloc was the god of rains and fertility and was a dreaded god. Appeasing Tlaloc was a ritual by itself and he was so feared that people then thought that if he was displeased then he would send in the floods. The ritual was not just inhuman it was also quite cruel. As part of the ritual, children would be tortured and made to cry; their tears would be collected in a ceremonial bowl and offered to the goggle-eyed and fanged Tlaloc before drowning the victims in an elaborate sacrificial ritual. All this, to appease the god who was often depicted as carrying thunderbolts and jars in which he kept the rain water.
The Mayans too had a god of rains and lightening, by the name of Chac. Chac besides being a rain god was also a fertility deity like many above as rains were very closely linked to fertility.
According to the Nordic Mythology, Thor was the god of thunderstorms and used to create thunder with his magical hammer, but they had a separate god in Freyr as their god of rains as well as fertility.
According to the Red Indian native tribe Navajo, Tonenili who was also known as the ‘water sprinkler’ was the Navaho god of water and was responsible for rain. He also caused thunder and lightning and considered to be mischievous. He was known to play tricks and would send in rain when least expected like on a clear day when people would step out for picnics. During drought there would be elaborate rituals to appease Tonenili and some aspects of the ritual would even be comical as per his nature of being a mischief-maker.
In the Chinese mythology, the dragons played a very important role and were considered to be very powerful and divine. Dragons were also known to be the controllers of all waters and were often very supportive of the mythical heroes. According to their mythology, dragons were capable of breathing out clouds and according to them that’s how the clouds formed. One such dragon was Yinglong (the Responding Dragon) who was considered to be the god of rain, and prayers were offered to Yinglong for receiving rains. The dragon sleeps all of winter and wakes up during the rainy season and thunders down as rain.
The influence of the Chinese dragons can be seen in Japanese mythology, where too the dragons were seen as water deities who were associated with rains and were often depicted as large serpentine creatures with clawed feet. In the Shinto religion, these dragons are associated with agricultural rituals and prayers for rain and the success of the fisher-folk.
As I mentioned earlier, not all associations of rains is with romance and getting cozy. Rains affect livelihood and had far larger and long-lasting implications for our ancestors and that can be seen in the depiction of rain-gods and in some rituals of the past. Sometimes the rituals seem inhuman, but let us not forget the times and the cultural milieu of the times and above all the faith-system, which is the most important aspect of every culture.
If any of you are wondering how come I have not spoken about the Hindu rain-god Lord Indra, then the reason is that Lord Indra is a subject of a larger discussion, which I intend to take up next time. Lord Indra is both a subject of heroism during the Vedic times and ridicule in the Puranas, and I intend to discuss the heroic aspects of Indra along with his association with Rain.
Lord Indra – next time. Keep reading and returning to this Blog!

1 comment:

  1. A Mitologia indígena Tupi brasileira também é muito rica e interessante a respeito da CHUVA. Pretendo, em algum momento postar alguma coisa sobre esse assunto.