Villagers in Thailand turn to Doraemon for rain

Photo courtesy of Mothership.SG

In a quirky twist to tradition, villagers in Thailand have ditched live cats for plush toy versions of the beloved Japanese cartoon character Doraemon in their rain-calling rituals. Amid severe heatwaves, this change has not only brought relief but also garnered amused and supportive reactions from netizens across Japan and China.

One netizen observed that the Doraemon ritual shows we live in a kind world.

“They are seeking help from the right kind of cat, as Doraemon has all kinds of magical gadgets in his four-dimensional pocket.”

Doraemon, the iconic blue robot cat from the 22nd century, was created in 1969 by the artist duo Fujiko Fujio. This character has become a symbol of hope and ingenuity, fitting perfectly into the villagers’ rain-calling ceremony known as hae nang maew, or lady cat parade. This tradition, taking place in Thailand’s lower northern province of Nakhon Sawan, dates back centuries and usually marks the beginning of the planting season.

Historically, black female cats were carried around in a basket or cage and splashed with water to elicit cries that were believed to summon rain. However, concerns over animal welfare prompted a shift in 2015, with some villages opting for cartoon characters like Doraemon and Hello Kitty.

Phongphan Kerdkham, the head of one village, revealed to Matichon Online that the parade had not been held for a decade but was revived this year due to a severe drought. Remarkably, storms reportedly hit the province on May 2, shortly after the ritual.

Rain-calling rituals are prevalent in other Asian cultures as well. In Japan, teru teru bozu dolls made from white paper or cloth are hung outside windows to influence the weather. In China, the Dragon King is revered as the god of water and weather, with temples and fairs dedicated to him during the planting season, reported the South China Morning Post.

With the successful revival of the Doraemon parade, villagers in Thailand are hopeful that their plush blue saviour will continue to bring much-needed rain.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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