Rain clouds coming our way. (courtesy: Nikhil Gulati)
As we were taking out the Honda Activa for a ration re-supply trip to Baneda I heard the dhol wala beating his drum again. It wasn't a fanfare-laden event. In fact, he was casually sitting by a storage shed along with a few men, dhol-ing away. What could it possibly signal now? It couldn't be a wedding, because I didn't see any women. It couldn't be a call for rain- that invitation was already sent. I asked Kanku Bai. The village bought two goats to slaughter. It's a sacrifice to bring rain. Great. Goat-slaying would surely send rain-God Indra the right vibes. I was skeptical.
Kanku Bai invited us for goat eating in the evening. The villagers had pooled in money to buy these goats and after their killing the contributors would get a share of the meat. After returning from Baneda I saw the post-sacrifice result from afar- a bucket full of meat chunks. Asha called out to me: Madamji! Don't go near the goats! According to her I would lose my appetite after seeing the raw goat chunks. This is the same woman who believed the cure for her stomach ache to be gifting sacks of rice to each of the three annadatas. Hardly in her early 20s, Asha is firmly superstitious.
Later in the day we went to the borewell to bathe, only to find a few men cooking their share of meat. They invited Nikhil to a meat-eating, liquor-drinking gathering at night. I was reminded of the men-dominated beer-and-barbeque traditions of the States. It's official then - the male species has mastered carnivorous cooking, from the isolated Indian hamlet to the backyards of American suburbia.
As mentioned earlier, I was skeptical about this whole sacrifice business. If it didn't rain, the villagers would perform another ritual to beckon the monsoon. If it did rain their illogical belief would be reaffirmed. Well, it rained. For a good three hours. The goat sacrifice brought a hearty feast for many and cooler weather for all. Children shed their clothes and played outside. Women took this opportunity to wash clothes. And our slick veranda gave us an excuse to declare evening classes cancelled. Score.