Everything is Written in the Sky!: Participatory Meteorological Assessment and Prediction Based on Traditional Beliefs and Indicators in Saurashtra

- P. R. Kanani with Astad Pastakia
Asst. Professor, Department of Extension Education, Gujarat Agricultural University, Junagadh Campus,
Gujarat, India.
Email: prkanani@gauj.guj.nic.in

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 9 (1999), 170-6.


Context

Saurashtra, located in the western part of Gujarat state is predominantly a dryland and drought prone region. The occurrence of agricultural drought has become a regular feature of the region since the seventies. The monsoon season, which extends from June to September, is characterized by irregular, erratic and uneven showers.

The farmers of this region give a lot of importance to accurate prediction of the onset of monsoon since cropping pattern decisions are made on the basis of these predictions. Early showers would allow a farmer to go in for long duration crops such as groundnut (spreading type) and cotton. On the other hand delayed monsoon could mean restricting the choice of crops to pulses, pearl millet, castor and bunch type of groundnut.

Although Indian satellite technology has made considerable progress since independence, the monsoon predictions made by the Department of Meteorology are not very helpful to farmers in making choices related to cropping pattern. This is because the Department's predictions are short ranged i.e. for a period of three days only. The Department does make long range predictions about the timing and extent of monsoon, but those are for the nation as a whole. As a result farmers in Saurashtra and many other dryland regions of India, rely mainly on indigenous meteorological beliefs and knowledge to make predictions about monsoon. They base their crop-mix decisions on predictions made by local experts.

The local experts use methods and principles evolved by eminent astronomers and astrologers such as Varahmir (circa 8th century), Ghagh (circa 13th century), Unnad Joshi (circa 15th century) and Bhadli (circa 12th century). Many of the principles provided by these eminent scholars have been absorbed by folk culture over the centuries and have been carried forward from generation to generation in the oral tradition. Even today, Bhadli Vakyas (couplets written by Bhadli) are very popular in Saurashtra and many other parts of the country.

The author is based at the Gujarat Agricultural University (GAU), which is the principle academic institution responsible for advancement of agricultural practices in the state. The University has four main campuses, one of which is located at Junagadh, in the heart of Saurashtra. The university has been contributing to the development of agriculture in the region since 1960. In this paper I present our experience of participatory meteriological assessment and predication with farmers of Saurashtra, based on traditional beliefs and principles of the region. The process initiated in 1990 has taken the form of an informal network of local experts and formal scientists, which provides voluntary service to the people of Saurashtra by making predictions on the basis of collective assessment.

Structure of presentation

The case is divided into four sections. After providing a brief review of the traditional meteorological knowledge and principles of the area (section two), I describe the process of participatory meteorological assessment from the initial trigger to the formation of a knowledge network for weather forecasting. In this section I also describe how certain beliefs and principles were selected for scientific validation. In the concluding section I present an evaluation of these principles based on data collected over the past nine years. I also draw conclusions regarding the institutional aspects of the experiment which have considerable external validity for other dryland regions in the country and elsewhere.

Traditional Principles: Brief review of literature

Bhadli (circa 12th century) described ten "chieftains" (variables) responsible for the development of "ethereal embryo" of rain. These are: wind, clouds, lightning, colours of the sky, rumbling, thunder, dew, snow, rainbow and occurrence of orb around the moon and the sun. Bhadli considered the interactions of these variables with inter-planetary, stellar systems during each of the 12 lunar months to characterize rainfall patterns through out the year.

Raman (1960) identified general atmospheric situations as indicators of a healthy conception of the "ethereal embryo". Some of these are listed below:

  1. Gentle and agreeable wind from the north, northeast and east.
  2. Clear sky.
  3. Soft, white deep halo around the moon or the sun.
  4. Dark coloured sky - as dark as crow's egg.
  5. Sky overcast with huge, bright dense clouds.
  6. Needle shaped or sword shaped clouds.
  7. Blood red clouds.
  8. Rainbow in the morning or in the evening.
  9. Low rumblings of thunder
  10. Lightning
  11. Appearance of a "mock sun".
  12. Planets and stars shining in full form and with soft light.
Similarly, Golakia (1992) collected local beliefs regarding occurrence of drought based on meteorological observations:

  1. If the sky acquires a faint yellow colour, there is less hope of rain.
  2. If crow coloured clouds are observed throughout the day while the night sky remains clear, a drought is indicated.
  3. If the velocity of wind is not high during Mrighirsh constellation and high heat is not experienced during Rohini constellation a drought can be expected to follow.
  4. If it does not rain in Adra and no winds occur in Mrigshirsh then a drought would occur.
  5. If the wind blows from east during the month of Shrawan and from southwest during the month of Bhadrapad, a severe drought could be expected.
  6. Occurrence of wind with velocity on the fifth day of the first fortnight of Shravan month is indicative of severe drought.
7. Occurrence of rain in the presence of sunshine is an indicator of poor rainfall in the near future.

Biological indicators of monsoon have also been well documented and are extensively used by local experts. Pisharoty (1993) reported that the tree Amaltas or Golden Shower Tree (Cassia Fistula) is a unique indicator of rain. It bears bunches of golden yellow flowers in abundance about 45 days before the onset of monsoon. This is also mentioned in Brahad Samhita written by Varahmihar (circa 8th century). Kanani et. al. (1995) documented various tree species that have been used as indicators of monsoon by the local communities (see Table 1).

Table1: Flowering & Foliage of Tree Species as Indicators of Rain

Name of Species

Indicator

Expected Outcome

Mahuda, Madhuca latifolia

Good foliage

Good monsoon

Ber, Zyzyphus Mauritiana

Heavy flush of fruit

Average monsoon

Darbha grass

Appearance of Good foliage

Good monsoon

Billi, Aegle marmelos

Good foliage

Subnormal monsoon

Pipal, Ficus religiosa

Good foliage

Adequate rain

Khejro, Prosopis cineraria

Heavy foliage

Drought

Kothi, Limonia acidissima

Good growth

Stormy rain

Neem, Azadirachta indica

Heavy flush

Drought

Observations on the behaviour of specific birds and animals have also been used as indicators of rain, as reported by Savaliya et. al. (1991) and Golakia (1992) (see Table 2).

Table 2: Behaviour of Birds and Animals as Predictors of Rain

Indicator

Expected outcome

Sparrow bathing in dust Good rain
Kachinda (chameleon) climbs the tree and assumes black-white-red colours Immediate rain
Frogs start singing in the initial days of the Jayestha (May) Early rain
Batairs (a bird) sing in pairs Certainty of rain
Peacocks cry frequently Rain within a day or two
Crows cry during the night and foxes during the day Severe drought
Titodi or Lapwig bird lays eggs during the night, especially on river-banks Heavy rains
Klheu (a bird) sings songs early in the morning Rains within a day or two
Snake climb up on trees Drought
Camel keeps facing north-east direction, goat does not browse, crow scratches its nest Immediate rains
Birds take bath in the dust on the full moon day of Jayestha (May) Plenty of rain

 

Participatory Validation, Assessment & Prediction

Trigger

In 1990, the Department of Meteorology had predicted normal monsoon for the nation as a whole. Although monsoon was normal in the rest of the country, it eluded the region of Saurashtra till the month of July. The farmers of the region were anxious, since the time for sowing the long duration crops and already passed by. It was during this time that I had occasion to meet two local meteorological experts.

Devji bhai Jamod, of Jetalsar village, an engine driver employed with Indian Railways. He was deeply interested in rainfall prediction as a hobby and used to record meteorological observations in his diary on a daily basis. Devji bhai was emphatic that there was no possibility of monsoon for that year till the 15th of August. His assertion was based on the traditional belief that:

"If there is rain, accompanied with lightning and "roaring of clouds" (mild thunder), on the second day of Jayastha, there will be no rain for the next seventy-two days". (Bhadli, circa 12th century)

Jadhav bhai Kathiria of Alidhra village, a farmer and school-teacher, made precisely the same prediction based on the same observation.

I was intrigued by their observations and predictions and was curious to see the efficacy of this knowledge. To my surprise, their prediction came true. Exactly after seventy-two days, on the 15th August, Saurashtra experienced heavy showers, enabling farmers to plant late season corps.

So impressed was I by the successful predictions of these local experts that I decided to publicise it in the local press. Their success was reported by almost all the local dailies such as Phoolchhab, Sandesh, Gujarat Samachar and Akila. An appeal was also made to the readers to send information about other such local meteorological experts of Saurashtra. Many farmers wrote back, suggesting that the university should take up systematic research on the topic. This was the genesis of the project on systematic validation of traditional meteorological beliefs and principles.

Beliefs Chosen for Validation

In 1990, I initiated a research project at the Department of Extension, Junadadh campus, to take up selected meteorological beliefs for scientific validation. The following beliefs were shortlisted on the basis of their popularity in the region. These have also been recorded by academics in Gujarati, the vernacular language (Trivedi, 1986; Adhvarya, 1974).

  1. If there is rain at the beginning of Rohini constellation with lightning accompanied by "roaring of clouds" (light thunder) there will be no rain for the next 72 days.
  2. If there is rain during Adra constellation there will be rain during the next three constellations viz., Punarvasu, Pushya, and Ashlesha.
  3. If there is rain during Punarvashu constellation, there will definitely be rain during Pushya constellation.
  4. If the rain occurs on 2nd and 5th day of the first fortnight of Ashadh, there will definitely be more rain in 2nd fortnight of Ashad and 1st fortnight of Shravan.
  5. If the 11th day of Ashadh month (known as Dev Podhi Ekadashi) falls on a Sunday, Saturday or Tuesday, then food grain will be costly and there will be "rainy hazards" (losses on account of thunder storms and natural calamities).
  6. If on the 12th day of Kartika month, the sky is clear at night with bright moon (known as Pushpa bandh yog), the ethereal embryo will develop for the forthcoming monsoon.
  7. Observations on the wind direction on Holi day, for a period starting about half-hour before lighting of the Holika to about half-hour after its lighting, can be used to forecast the rainfall for the year (see Figure1 for the various wind directions and associated outcomes).
  8. Observations on the wind direction on Akshya Tritiya during 3 am to 6 am can be used to predict the rainfall pattern and expected crop yield for the year (see Figure 2 for the various wind directions and associated outcomes).
The last two of these beliefs were based on Bhadli's couplets and were perceived as the most reliable indicators by a majority of the local experts. These beliefs were based on the direction of the wind on two specific days viz. Akshya tritya and on the day of Holi festival. Predictions could be made not only about the ethereal embryo of monsoon, but also on secondary outcomes such as intensity of diseases and pests, and expected crop yields.

Emergence of Knowledge Network

To enable farmers to record the observations on the last two beliefs, I developed diagrams (Figures 1 and 2) providing instructions for making systematic observations on the direction of the wind. These diagrams were developed after extensive consultation with local experts. In 1992, these were first published in the local dailies with an appeal to the farmers and local experts to send their observations to the GAU. The editors of all the local dailies decided to publish these diagrams, free of charge. They felt it was an important experiment for the region and were only too happy to provide this service to the farming community, which constituted its main readership. They continued providing this support in subsequent years, in the same spirit and have published the charts every year.

In response to the initial appeal in 1992, I received more than two hundred letters from farmers all over Saurashtra. The responses were classified according to the districts and talukas from which they came. We needed collaborators from the entire region, and this classification would help in selecting potential collaborators. Two hundred collaborators were selected from the six districts of Saurashtra as follows: Junagadh (61), Amreli (45), Rajkot (37), Jamnagar (32), Bhavnagar (17) Surendranagar (8).

The community-wise break-up of collaborators is indicated in Table 3. The Patel community dominated with 60% participation followed by the Koli Patels with 20% participation. This was not surprising as the Patel community is known for its expertise in farming while Koli Patels are known for their back-yard gardening and intimate knowledge of flora and fauna.

Table 3: Community-wise Break-up of Participants

Community/caste

Number of Participants

%

Patel

120

60

Koli Patel

40

20

Scheduled caste

20

10

Bhramin & Vania

20

10

The Participative Research and Prediction Process

The collaborators were sent a questionnaire in which they were expected to record observations on various parameters such as velocity and direction of wind, humidity, occurrence of rainbow, occurrence of orb around moon and sun, occurrence of dew, etc. These observations were to be made for 195 days, from the 1st day of Kartika to the 15th day of Chaitra. Collaborators were also expected to take observations on fixed days (for beliefs 7 and 8) as advised through the local press. The observations recorded by participating experts were tabulated each year and analysed on the basis of criteria given by Bhadli.

On June 16, 1997, the First Seminar on Ancient Methods for Studying Rain Phenomena was organised at Junagadh in which about 60 traditional meteorologists participated. The seminar was sponsored by the Gujarat Agricultural University and private agri-input merchants. We presented our findings and each local expert was allowed to present his/her findings and make predictions. The predictions were documented in the proceedings and carried to the people by the local press.

The seminar was a great success and resulted in the formation of Ancient Rain Prediction Network. The seminar became an annual feature. The participation form local experts has been increasing each year. Participants come from all over Saurashtra at their own cost. Only network members are invited to present their predictions for the forthcoming monsoon. In subsequent years, local experts get a chance to review their previous predictions and make suitable improvements in their techniques. Experts who had made accurate predictions over the years were held in high esteem by their peers.

In terms of gender, the participation of women was weak with only four women participating in the seminar. These women came from near-by villages. They had earlier attended a training programme at the Farmers'Training Center, run by the Agricultural University. When they came to know about the seminar, they decided to attend.

However this does not mean that women are less interested in the subject. One of the women participants brought to the seminar a Gujarati publication on Bhadli's Vakyas and made it accessible to other members of the network.

In the seminar held on the 6th of July 1999, a resolution was passed to establish a professional body called the "Ancient Rain Phenomena Association". The procedure for registration of the Association has been initiated. An executive body with seventeen members representing different parts of Saurashtra has been established. The rules and norms are now being evolved. The annual membership fee is Rs. 75/- only while life membership fee has been fixed at Rs. 525/-.

Validation of Traditional Beliefs: Summary of Findings

Testing of the eight beliefs (treated as hypotheses) has been carried out since 1990. Each year the results were presented to the Agricultural Research Committee at the GAU, in order to get feedback from researchers and extension workers.

The observations taken over a period of eight years, from 1990 to 1998 indicate that seven of the eight hypotheses have not been proved untrue so far (see Table 4). The results indicate that many of these beliefs are likely to prove reliable indicators of monsoon.

Table 4: Validation of Traditional Meteorological Beliefs in Saurashtra: Summary of FindingsTable 4.1: Hypothesis: If there is rain in the beginning of Rohini constellation with lightning accompanied with "roaring of clouds" (light thunder) there will be no rain for next 72 days.

Inference: The belief was found true since 1990.

Year

Occurrence of Condition Specified Rainfall (in mm. where specified)

1990 Condition observed on 25/5/90 Rainfall recorded exactly after 72 days i.e. on 16th August 1990.
1991 Condition specified did not occur Monsoon was regular
1992 Condition specified did not occur Monsoon was regular
1993 Condition specified did not occur Monsoon was regular
1994 Condition specified did not occur Rain was recorded during 72 day period
1995 Condition specified did not occur 356 mm rain recorded during 72 days period
1996 Condition specified did not occur 642 mm rainfall recorded during 72 day period
1997 Condition specified did not occur 514 mm rainfall recorded during 72 day period
1998 Condition specified did not occur 681 mm rainfall recorded during 72 days period

Table 4.2: Hypothesis: If there is rain during Adra constellation there will be rain in the next three constellations viz., Punarvasu, Pushya, and Ashlesha.

Inference: This was found false in 1995 and 1996, and hence cannot be considered a reliable indicator of rain.

Year Occurrence of Condition Specified Rainfall (in mm)

1990 35.50 mm rainfall recorded during Adra constellation Punarvasu - 30.2

Pushya ― 18.4

Ashlesha ― 21.3
1991 13.00 mm rainfall recorded during Adra constellation Punarvasu ― 241.05

Pushya ― 148

Ashlesha ― 43.08
1992 35.6 mm rainfall recorded during Adra constellation Punarvasu ― 15.4

Pushya ― 351-6

Ashlesha ― 103.7
1993 34.4 mm rainfall recorded during Adra constellation Punarvasu ― 95.8

Pushya ― 2.8

Ashlesha ― 10.9
1994 258 mm rainfall recorded during Adra constellation Punarvasu ―434

Pushya ― 117

Ashlesha ― 55
1995 No rains observed during Adra constellation Punarvasu ― 361.9

Pushya ― 258.7

Ashlesha ― 22.1
1996 18 mm rainfall recorded during Adra constellation Punarvasu ― 33.2

Pushya ― 285.3

Ashlesha ― 30.7
1997 152.8 mm rainfall recorded during Adra constellation Punarvasu ― 117.9

Pushya ― 163.4

Ashlesha ― 23.9
1998 362.9 mm rainfall recorded during Adra constellation Punarvasu ― 83.4

Pushya ― 93.2

Ashlesha ― 94

 

 

Table 4.3: Hypothesis
: If there is rain in Punarvasu constellation, there will definitely be rain in Pushya constellation

Inference: This was found true since 1990.

Year Occurrence of Condition Specified Rainfall (in mm)

1991 Punarvasu ― 30.28 Pushya ― 18.42
1992 Punarvasu - 241.05 Pushya ― 148
1993 Punarvasu ― 95.8 Pushya ― 2.8
1994 Punarvasu ― 434 Pushya ― 117
1995 Punarvasu ― 361.9 Pushya ― 258.7
1996 Punarvasu ― 33.2 Pushya ― 285.3
1997 Punarvasu ― 117.9 Pushya - 163.4
1998 Punarvasu ― 83.4 Pushya ― 93.2

Table 4.4: Hypothesis: If the rain occurs on 2nd and 5th day of Ashadh month, there will definitely be more rain during the 2nd fortnight of Ashadh and 1st fortnight of Shravan month respectively.

Inference: Except for 1995, the hypothesis was found to hold.

Year Occurrence of Condition Specified Rainfall (in mm)

1990 Rainfall observed as follows:

2nd day of Ashadh ― 5mm

5th day of Ashadh ― 22.34 mm
2nd fortnight of Ashadh ― 37.5

1st fortnight Shravan ― 59.7
1991 2nd day ― 118 mm

5th day ― 53.7 mm
2nd fortnight of Ashadh ― 117

1st fortnight of Shravan ―50.20
1992 2nd day ―10 mm

5th day ― 6mm
2nd fortnight of Ashadh ―246.50

1st fortnight of Shravan ― 219.40
1993 2nd day ― 25 mm

5th day - No rain
2nd fortnight of Ashadh -127

1st fortnight of Shravan ― 1.0
1994 2nd day ― 21mm

5th day ― 80 mm
2nd fortnight of Ashadh ― 45

1st fortnight of Shravan ― 60
1995 2nd day ― 10mm

5th day ― no rain
2nd fortnight of Ashadh ― 443.7

1st fortnight of Shravan ― 155
1996 2nd day ― 1.9mm

5th day ― 1.2 mm
2nd fortnight of Ashadh ― 36

1st fortnight of Shravan ― 39.9
1997 2nd day ― 6.3mm

5th day ― 0.2 mm
2nd fortnight of Ashadh ― 164.10

1st fortnight of Shravan ― 25.9
1998 2nd day ― 20.80mm

5th day ― 63.8 mm
2nd fortnight of Ashadh ― 117.40

1st fortnight of Shravan ― 139.40

Table 4.5 Hypothesis: If the 11th day of first fortnight of Ashadh (Dev Podhi Ekadashi - DPE) falls on Sunday, Saturday or Tuesday, natural hazards due to excess rainfall may occur causing food grain prices to shoot up.

Inference: Found true, except in 1995 and 1997 when it was found only partially true.

Year Occurrence of Condition Specified Rainfall pattern and natural calamities

1990 DPE was on Tuesday (3/7/90) Heavy rainfall recorded in Kutch, and Banaskantha resulting in floods. Food grain prices were unusually high.
1991 DPE was on Thursday (22/7/91) No natural calamities
1992 DPE was on Friday (10/7/92) No natural calamities
1993 DPE was on Wednesday (30/6/93) No natural calamities
1994 DPE was on Tuesday (11/7/94) Heavy rain was recorded all over Gujarat Plague occurred in South Gujarat

Food grain prices were high
1995 DPE was on Sunday (9/7/95) No natural calamities, however, food grains prices were observed to be high.
1996 DPE was on Saturday (27/7/96) Cyclone occurred with heavy rain causing extensive damage to standing crops and trees. Food grain prices were high.
1997 DPE was on Wednesday (16/7/97) Heavy rains in North-Gujarat; prices of food grain were stable
1998 DPE was on Sunday (5/7/98) Severe cyclone in coastal area of Saurashtra on June 8, 1998; floods in Surat City, due to heavy rainfall. Prices of food grains, potatoes and onions were very high.

Table 4.6: Hypothesis: If on the 12th day of Kartika month, the sky is clear at night with bright moon (known as Pushpa bandh yog), the ethereal embryo is believed to have developed for the forthcoming monsoon.

Inference: Found true since 1990.

Year Occurrence of Condition Specified Rainfall Pattern

1990 Clear sky on the specified day Monsoon was satisfactory
1991 Cloudy sky Monsoon was erratic and uneven
1992 Very clear sky Normal monsoon, evenly distributed
1993 Cloudy sky Erratic rainfall
1994 Clear sky Regular and adequate monsoon
1995 Cloudy sky Erratic rainfall
1996 Clear sky Regular monsoon
1997 Clear Sky and Bright Moon Regular and adequate monsoon
1998 Clear Sky and Bright Moon Regular and adequate monsoon

Table 4.7 Hypothesis: The direction of the wind approximately half-an-hour before and after the lighting of the Holika on the day of Holi festival can be used to forecast the rainfall for the year. A set of eight hypotheses has been proposed on the basis of eight wind directions as shown Figure 1.

Note: This belief was pre-tested between 1990-1993 and gave positive indications. During this time the diagram shown in Figure 1 was developed, to facilitate systematic recording of wind direction by the farmers. Since 1994, recording has been made with the help of this diagram.

Inference: Found true since 1993. This belief was found to be a reliable indicator of rainfall.

Year Occurrence of Condition Specified Rainfall Pattern

1994 Holi was observed on 26/3/94.

Reported wind direction was from North and North-West;

Normal rainfall was predicted with strong possibility of Locust attack.
Normal monsoon,

Locust attack caused extensive damage to crops.
1995 Holi was observed on 16/3/95.

The wind direction was East to West indicating localized rainfall
Localized rainfall in South Saurashtra zone.
1996 Holi was observed on 14/3/96.

153 observations from farmers were received; reported wind direction was from East to West indicating localized rainfall.
Localized rainfall
1997 Holi was observed on 24/3/97.

143 observations were received. The wind direction in 52.5% of the cases was from Northwest and West. Good rainfall predicted
Good rainfall
1998 Holi was observed in 12/3/98.

111 observations were received. 55.5% indicated wind direction from Northwest and West. Good rainfall was predicted
Good rainfall

 

 

 

Table 4.8:
Hypothesis
: Observations on the wind direction on Akshya Tritiya (third day of Vaishaka month) during 3 to 6 a.m. can be used to predict the rainfall pattern and expected crop yield for the year. A set of eight hypotheses based on eight wind directions is proposed as shown in Figure 2.

Inference: Found true since 1990. This belief was found to be a reliable indicator of rainfall.

Year Occurrence of Condition Specified Rainfall (in mm)

1994 Akshya Tritiya observed on 13/5/94.

Responses received from 154 farmers; 63% indicated wind direction from the West while 39 % indicated Northwesterly direction. Heavy rain was predicted with 75% crop yield.
The prediction was completely true.
1995 Akshya Tritiya observed on 3/5/95.

Observation received from 51 farmers; 40% indicated wind direction from the West while 30.5% showed Northwesterly wind direction. Sufficient rain resulting in about 65% yield was predicted.
The prediction came true.
1996 Akshya Tritiya observed on 20/4/96.

Responses were received from 386 farmers. The wind direction was as follows:

Northwest (30%), West (24.5%) and North (13.2%). Sufficient rain with about 65% crop yield was predicted.
This was found true.
1997 Akshya Tritiya observed on 9/5/97.

Responses received from 243 farmers. The wind direction was as follows:

West (52%), indicating good rainfall for all crops and Southwest (46%) indicating erratic rainfall. Moderate rainfall with 50% crop yield was predicted.
This was found true.
1998 Akshya Tritiya observed on 29/4/98.

Responses received from 288 farmers. Wind direction:

West and Northwest (79%), indicating good rainfall for all crops.

South-West (13%), indicating erratic rainfall

75% crop yield predicted
Rains were sufficient in all areas except Northern Saurashtra, which experienced erratic rainfall.

Conclusion

Apart from validating these beliefs across the whole of the Saurashtra, the study has helped to restore the confidence of the people in their traditional knowledge and skills. The resulting knowledge network has brought together the expertise of the region, cutting across formal and informal systems. Such a network helps individual experts to pool their knowledge and learn from each other. It enables the group as a whole to make a collective judgment and to provide the farming community, a valuable service. In the past, the farmers were often faced with conflicting judgments and predictions made by local experts. Now, the wide-scale dissemination of the collective judgment of experts makes it easier for farmers to make their decisions.

The group has already acquired a high degree of credibility because of successful prediction made during the past nine years. In 1993, we got more than 500 observations on the wind directions on Akshya Tritra and Holi days. As a result we were able to make very accurate predictions. We even predicted the likelihood of a locust attack. This prediction came true and added to our credibility.

It is this service and the resulting support and appreciation of the farming community which keeps the network going. The network emerged spontaneously and has experienced an organic growth. It exists because of the need that it helps to meet. The experimentation and predictions are likely to continue without the help of external support. In the process valuable meteorological data will be generated and additional beliefs will be tested. We believe that such a network can serve as a model for other dryland areas, which rely on traditional experts for prediction of monsoon.

Acknowledgments

The author is grateful to Dr. V.J. Savaliya, Dr. M. A. Munshi and Dr. A. O. Kher for their help in organising the annual seminars and contributing in various ways to the success of the project.

Appendix: NAMES AND DATES OF CONSTELLATIONS

Serial No.

Name

Approximate dates

1

Kritika 10-11 May

2

Rohini 24-25 May

3

Mrigshirsh 7-8 June

4

Adra 21-22 June

5

Punarvasu 5-6 July

6

Pushya 19-20 July

7

Ashlesha 2-3 August

8

Magha 16-17 August

9

Purba Falguni 30-31 August

10

Uttra Falguni 12-13 September

11

Hasta 26-27 September

12

Chitra 10-11 October

13

Swati 23-24 October

14

Vishakha 5-6 November

15

Anuradha 18-19 November

16

Jayeshtha 2-3 December

17

Mool 15-16 December

18

Purvashadha 28-29 December

19

Uttarashadha 10-11 January

20

Shrawan 23-24 January

21

Dharishtha 5-6 February

22

Satatitha 18-19 February

23

Purva Bhadrapad 4-5 March

24

Uttara Bhadrapad 17-18 March

25

Revati 30-31 March

26

Aswini 13-14 April

27

Bharani 26-27 April

References

Adhvaryu R. (1974) Prachin Varsha Vignan Gujarat Loksahitya Academy, Ahmedabad.
Golakia B.A. (1992) "Proverbs for Predicting the Moods of Monsoon." Honey Bee 3 (1): 12.
Kanani P.R., Munshi M.A, Makwana D.K. and Savaliya V.J. (1995) "Bhadli nu Bhantar Ketlu Sacchu?" (Vernacular). Krishi Jivan. Special issue on "Varshad Agahi" (May-95) pp.26.

Pisharoty P.R. (1993) "Plant that Predicts Monsoon." Honey Bee 4 (4): 12
Raman B.V. (1960) Prakash Marg, Part ― II, Motilal Banarasidas Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.
Savaliya V.J., Kher A.O., Kanani P.R. and Munshi M.A. (1991) "Pashu Paxi ni Chestha ne Adhare Megh ne Endhan." Narmada Kisan Parivar Patra (Guj.) July, 1991 pp.8
Trivedi J. N. (1986) Bhadli Vakyo, Sastu Sahitya, Ahmedabad.


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