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India Hippety-hopping Into The 21st Century
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June 08, 2005, 09:20 PM
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Parts of India have been strained by a severe drought, so village leaders in West Bengal decided it was time to take serious action — matrimony of the Bufonidae kind. [ Toads married in Hindu ceremony to appease rain gods ]

The detailed coverage of the nuptials was unlikely to fit the publicity plan of India`s PR machine, which has been busy working to convince Americans that the bad old days of cows and untouchables are over. The media makeover artists scored a major coup in 2003 when Sixty Minutes broadcast a virtual advertisement for Indian programmers, insinuating that they were smarter and better educated than their American counterparts. The piece even suggested that Indian immigrants played a large part in the creation of Silicon Valley — a total rewrite of history. (See "Triumph of the Nerds" for the real story of who built the personal computer industry.) Joe Guzzardi had critical comments at the time. But back to the happy frogs, er toads:

KHOCHAKANDAR, India (Reuters) - Two giants toads were married in a traditional Hindu ceremony in eastern India at the weekend by villagers hoping to propitiate the rain gods and end a dry spell. Some 400 people cheered and blew conches as women put streaks of vermilion on the female toad`s head while a band played music and priests solemnized the marriage to the chanting of Hindu hymns. The toads were picked up from separate ponds, dressed in bright red clothes and brought to the marriage venue in a decorated palanquin in Khochakandar village in West Bengal state late Sunday. The married toads were released into a pond after the ceremony in the village about 365 km (225 miles) north of the state capital, Calcutta. "Our forefathers used to organize marriages of toads to get sufficient rain for cultivation. We hope rain will be coming very soon," said Konica Mandal, one of the organizers of the wedding.

For breathtaking diversity, India is the place!