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Cultural Symbols Of The Rain And Its Companions

By Chinelo Eze
02 May 2021   |   3:00 pm
Can you remember the smell of petrichor that permeates the air just before twirling and dancing under the rain? Enjoying the act and under the same breath chanting diligently “Rain rain go away…” But later being scolded by your parents for fear of getting sick? Even now as an adult when reminiscing, you look at…

Cultural Symbols Of The Rain And Its Companions

Can you remember the smell of petrichor that permeates the air just before twirling and dancing under the rain? Enjoying the act and under the same breath chanting diligently “Rain rain go away…” But later being scolded by your parents for fear of getting sick?

Even now as an adult when reminiscing, you look at the younger ones flaunting their childlike innocence and spirit as they freely dance away under the rain.

We never know why but it turns out that there is something about the rain that gets us all worked up positively. One can even form a playlist of rain-inspired songs of different genre and era perhaps can be termed “rain songs” if need be.

Perhaps the rain appeal might be linked to the attainment of success they had, earning them the right to be called hits. These songs have embedded in them emotions the rain brings, the beliefs and perceptions of rain and its usage figuratively all tuned out in crescendo. Hence mythology is driven based on the dictates of society fuelling its sustenance in modern society.

Away from sentimentality, what is the religious correlation in significance of this natural phenomenon “rain” and the symbolism of other characteristics like thunder, lightning, and rainbow? In most cultures, there is the existence of belief in the metaphysical power the rain proffer.

What role do you think myths and legends have in the understanding of the cosmos and how a man gets to communicate with it?
Varying mythology from different cultures has diverse tales to understanding how things on earth came to be and man’s part on earth. This is therefore the spirituality behind the rain including different gods that hold the power to permit rain to fall or keep the rain away from humans resulting in famine.

With the reliance in some cultures and society on agriculture this setting is to be expected to placate the sacredness of the rain. So rain is appreciated as a gift from the god of rain, hence it is seen for its benevolence as the giver of life since it rejuvenates the earth and human life.

Thus this is seen as the belief of rain gods. Probably as a natural marvel, supernatural powers are as a result attributed to it for this reason from different cultures. The myth creation stories behind these beliefs are quite universal with no restrictions to a particular region.

Given that myths are the foundation of the belief system of many with different cultural attitudes to the world and all in it.

In Greek mythology, Zeus the ruler of the Greek pantheon of gods stands as the god of rain and is known for his symbolic dart/ thunderbolt sign.

While in Nigeria together with its vast ethnicity, the gods of rain are different from one ethnicity to the other. In Yoruba legend, the god of rain is the power couple Oya and her husband Sango who according to folklore got his gifts from his wife Oya.

For the Hausas Gajjimare begins the etymology of Hausa rain gods. While in Igbo land, Amadioha stands ensign as the ruler of the sky wielding his power as he may and speaks through thunder which is no different from the aforementioned gods. Though these oral traditions have different stories, these gods have typically the same role to discharge to earthlings.

Again, the rain like two sides of a coin is reflected in the perceptions of belief systems of cultures with juxtaposing world view. For instance, the foreshadowing of storms in some cultures connotes something ominous and this is further reflected in movies and phrases like “after the storm comes the calm” pushes forth such notions.

For instance, rain falling in some cultures at weddings is not a sign of good beginnings while for another it is a blessing that washes away the past setting you up for a brighter day.

Briefly, symbolic to showers of the rain is the beauty of the rainbow that accompanies the rainy weather. It is one phenomenon that has put scientists on their toes and is most desired for the beauty it graces the sky with.

The rainbow Parallel to the rain which is vastly dual in actions and symbols, the rainbow is broadly in harmony to imply positive vibes.

In Norse mythology, it is the Bifrost that connects Asgard to Midgard. The rainbow in Christian perspective is a representation of God’s promises not to destroy the earth by food.

The rain and its companions are usually in nexus with romance as many seek warmth and perhaps is one of the most beautiful seasons for flora and fauna and humans alike.

Somewhat giving the importance of a rain scene in romantic movies or teenage-inspired movies. But these are minute in significance as to the deeply rooted perspective; its role and socio-economic importance to man and earth. The rain is a part of nature with a dualistic demeanor as pointed out earlier.

As a cradle to nature, it gives life as well as going overboard. This mirrors the figurative outlook of the gods of the rain, therefore, shedding light on the use of flood to punish communities for all their misdemeanors.

Such absence of rainfall in mythology implies to the community that they have vexed the gods and here the appearance of the thunderbolt becomes apparent to reflect the anger of the gods.

Therefore in seeking how to appease the gods in order to get vegetation and human life back again. In cases as such, certain ritual acts take place including singing, dancing, and chanting all with the intent to influence the minds of the gods towards their predicament. The importance of rain is undisputed as a means of human survival, plant, and animal.

This consequently attributes the transcendent belief a focus of ritualistic practice in Africa and other communities.

In Igbo land and other parts of Nigeria, the role of a rainmaker is not obsolete in modern times though at the verge of being extinct since the involvement of meteorologists and scientific approach.

Rainmakers are often sought after especially during events to pacify the rain gods of the land to provide favorable weather to aid the seamless running of events; traditional weddings, burials, coronations, and the likes.

However, they do not only dispel rainfall but also cause and redirect. Rainmakers do not function without taking cognizance of the seasons.

These traditional meteorologists hold an esteemed seat in their communities before the modern-day weatherman came to be.

The importance of rain/water to man is the story of Romeo and Juliet after all humans are 80% made up of water. Hence the use of water as an element of life for purification, separation, and redemption is evident in all aspects of our culture and philosophies.

All said and done, “April showers bring May flowers” suggestive of the effervescence of rain on the earth, thus in all indication the mythology of rain is a concept like the people that practice it, is socially and culturally diverse. Next time you need to schedule an appointment, do have a “rain check.”

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