Suffering from a drought? Have your daughter plow the field naked.

Over in India they’ve been suffering from a drought during what should be monsoon season. It’s the worst start to the rainy season they’ve had in eight decades and farmers are starting to get desperate. How desperate? Desperate enough to ask their unmarried daughters to plow the fields naked in hopes it will embarrass the Weather Gods:

Witnesses said the naked girls in Bihar state plowed the fields and chanted ancient hymns after sunset to invoke the gods. They said elderly village women helped the girls drag the plows.

“They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains,” Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar’s remote Banke Bazaar town.

“This is the most trusted social custom in the area and the villagers have vowed to continue this practice until it rains very heavily.”

It quite simply amazes me that in the 21st century this kind of silly superstition still exists. Though I suppose it’s not all that different from certain Christians invoking imprecatory prayers in hopes God will kill Obama. Both are just as delusional and stupid. At least the Indian delusion is an attempt to bring about something good even if it does mean increased risk of skin cancer for the girls.

I have to wonder, though, why they think it has to be unmarried girls? Why wouldn’t the Weather Gods be just as embarrassed by a bunch of naked old men plowing the fields? Or naked married women? Or naked unmarried boys? This is starting to sound more and more like an excuse to see a bunch of young girls plowing without their clothes on.

Another example of faith standing in the way of progress.

Over in India the government is attempting to build a shipping canal between India and Sri Lanka that would provide a continuous navigable sea route around the Indian peninsula reducing travel time for ships by hundreds of miles and boosting the economic and industrial development of the region. Sounds like a great idea, right? There’s just one teensy little problem:

Hindu hardliners say the project will destroy what they say is a bridge built by Ram and his army of monkeys.

Scientists and archaeologists say the Ram Setu (Lord Ram’s bridge) – or Adam’s Bridge as it is sometimes called – is a natural formation of sand and stones.

Ram is one of the Hindu gods and supposedly he got an army of monkeys together, which just proves how cool a god Ram is, and built a bridge to Sri Lanka so they could go out drinking or beat someone up or something. I don’t recall the specifics at the moment, but you can be damned certain they had a good reason to build that bridge and the faithful believe that the bridge in question just happens to lie in the path of this canal project.

So the Indian government, using an uncommon sense of reason not employed by the U.S. Government, decided to get together with the Archaeological Survey of India to see if there was anything in the way of cold, hard evidence to back up this religious story which is “solely based on the Hindu mythological epic Ramayana. They looked at the facts, they wrote it down in a report, and they presented it to the courts:

They said there was no scientific evidence to prove that the events described in Ramayana ever took place or that the characters depicted in the epic were real.

The Indian Hindus, being perfectly reasonable and thoughtful people, agreed that the report was a fair and accurate accounting of the facts and dropped their opposition to the canal project.

Ha ha! Just kidding! What they really did was go batshit insane:

In the last two days, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched a scathing attack on the government for questioning the “faith of the million”.

On Wednesday, Hindu hard-line organisations blocked roads across India to protest against the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project.

Commuters in the capital, Delhi, were stuck in traffic jams for hours as Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and Bajrang Dal blocked roads at various places.

Road blocks were also held in Bhopal, the capital of the central state of Madhya Pradesh, on the Delhi-Agra highway and on the Jaipur-Agra highway.

Train services were disrupted in many places across northern India.

It’s always a bad idea to tell deluded people that they’re deluded and reality is something other than what they think it to be. The government, realizing that it governs over a lot of crazy people, decided to withdraw the report from the court:

Worried about the adverse reaction from the majority Hindu population of the country, the Congress Party-led government has now done a U-turn and withdrawn the statement submitted in court.

The government asked the court for three months to try and sort out the issue.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing on behalf of the government, said they would set up a mechanism to hear concerns expressed by those opposed to the canal project.

The court adjourned the matter for three months saying they would take up the case again in January.

In the meantime, the court has said that dredging work for the canal could continue, but Ram’s Bridge should not be touched

Now it’s important to have an idea of just what’s at stake here so here’s a picture of this land bridge and here is Wikipedia’s description of the bridge:

Adam’s Bridge, known in India as Rama’s Bridge or Rama Setu, is a chain of limestone shoals, between the islands of Mannar, near northwestern Sri Lanka, and Rameswaram, off the southeastern coast of India.

The bridge is 30 miles (48 km) long and separates the Gulf of Mannar (southwest) from the Palk Strait (northeast). Some of the sandbanks are dry and the sea in the area is very shallow, being only 3 ft to 30 ft (1 m to 10 m) deep in places, which hinders navigation.

So what we’re dealing with here is basically a partially submerged land bridge that a bunch of people at some point in the past made up some religious story about that has now made it into some sort of sacred place that can’t be touched for fear of a monkey army revolt. Or something. The upshot of it all is that thanks to a majority of the Indian population being True Believers™ ships are forced to travel all the way around the peninsula because a canal is out of the question. Just one more example of superstition slowing down progress.

Update: Forgot to mention this was sent in by Tom McCann.