Thai villagers turn to anime character Doraemon for rain-making ritual

BANGKOK: Amid a prolonged dry spell in Thailand, residents in three villages in Nakhon Sawan province have gathered to revive the traditional ritual of parading a cat to bring rain to the affected villages.

In a twist, the ritual, which traditionally involves a cat, was conducted in late April using a Doraemon soft toy in place of a live animal.

Doraemon, a popular Japanese manga and anime character, is an earless robotic cat with the ability to travel through time.

This adaptation has captured global attention after it was posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Dr Tarin Clanuwat, a research scientist with a PhD in Japanese Literature from Waseda University.

Her post, which included an image of a Doraemon soft toy being carried in a cage, has gone viral, amassing over 16.2 million views, 219,000 likes, and more than 39,000 reposts as at May 2.

Local sources in Thailand reported that the ceremony, known as the Hae Nang Maew Ceremony (Cat Parading Ceremony), is a customary practice among Thai farmers.

It is believed that parading a cat, an animal traditionally averse to water, will entice the rain gods to bring forth rain essential for their crops. In the original ritual, a cat’s cry during the procession is seen as a harbinger of imminent rain.

This time, those carrying out the ceremony chose to replace the live cat with a Doraemon soft toy.

Several netizens who commented on Dr Clanuwat’s post noted that the substitution ensures the ceremony’s essence is preserved without subjecting an actual cat to potential distress.

Thailand has been battling a severe heatwave throughout April, with more than three dozen districts across 77 provinces experiencing record temperatures.

According to data from the Thai Meteorological Department, temperatures have topped 40 deg C in 26 provinces in April. – The Straits Times/ANN