Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Paparuda- A rain ritual

Paparuda is a magical ritual used for bringing rains in times of drought. When the sun burns the fields and the harvest is lost, a young girl walks the streets of the village, dancing almost erotically. The girl is dressed in a skirt made of yellow leaves, becoming an impersonation of the purity of the Earth, walks and dances lifting her hands to the sky while her voice carries the calling for the Goddess of Rain.

The women of the village walk around her and stop at every house, throwing cold water over the child- Goddess. The number of women following the Paparuda varies from one area to another, but at least one ot two girls are masked. Undressed, the girls are covered with leaves and flower garlands, covering the entire body as a green cone. Red ribbons are knotted between the leaves.  The almost nudity of the Paparuda, the young girl that became a living Goddess, is meant to evoke the genuine purity of the live Nature, readying Itself to be fertilized.

The women walk and dance through the village, from one house to another and later on the fields, singing a ritual song, clapping their hands, while the Paparuda dances lively. The rain is invoked through the continou repetition of the sounds of rain, through hand clapping and fingers drumming, but most especially through the words of the magical chant:

"Come little rain/ Come and make us wet/ When you come with the sieve/ Let it be a barnful"

Paparuda is an old agrarian divinity of Romanian mythology, a divinity of the fertilizing rain, reduced in modern times to a magical ritual.

For their dance, the Paparude are offered ritual gifts that signify the abundance: eggs, corn, wheat, milk, fruits. Sometimes old clothes, connected to death rituals are added to the gifts. When the women finish walking and dancing through the village and fields, the Paparude go to a flowing water and make a doll out of wheat. The doll is put on fire and thrown into the water, followed by the leaves clothes.

This ritual is still very much alive today in some regions of Romania, where the magical aspects  are doubled by the village priest offering prayers.




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