USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘rain dance’
Kinesthetic
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Rain Song from Living Earth Camp

Abstract:

This piece is about a rain song that is sung at Living Earth Camp when it hasn’t rain in awhile. It stems from “native” songs, but there is no evidence.

Main Piece:

“L: I went to like a nature camp in the years I was in middle school over the summer. So it was like a sleepaway camp, but it only lasted a week. And it was weird because it was mostly white people, but they’d be like “oh this is the ancient song, this ancient rain song.” I don’t think they realized how problematic it was. We had this one time when it hadn’t been raining lately, like we we in a drought or something, so they took us down to the river and said “so we’re going to sing this rain song.” So you sing this when you are splashing the water around and it goes like “wishita-do-yah-do-yah-do-yah, wishita-do-yah-do-yah-do-yah. Washa-ta-day-ah-day-ah-day-ah.” And you do that over and over again. And it actually ended up raining the next day.

C: Wow, so it worked?

L: Yeah, so now I have all this white guilt singing it.

C: What is the camp’s name?

L: Living Earth Camp. And it was or felt very spiritual and connected to nature. But it was still like a $500 camp for a bunch of kids to cover themselves in mud.

C: Where was it?

L: Like an hour away from where I lived, so still in Virginia.”

Context:

The informant is a 19 year old girl from Charlottesville, VA. She attended this camp for 3 years in middle school and learned this song the first year she was at the camp when she was in 6th grade.

Analysis:

Rain songs that are based on “native” traditions never seem quite genuine, but the intention behind them is interesting. I thought it was curious that a rain song has to have roots in “native” folklore, and not from somewhere else. This reminds me of learning of tourist items that were labeled as “authentic” or “native.” I think a lot of people try to go back to the roots of Native culture because of it’s connection to the Earth and spirituality. Though there is more to Native culture than that, in today’s popular culture that is what is most projected. Since children are little, we learn that there are certain things to sing to cause things to happen. When we want the rain to come, we sing things like this – the rain song, to bring rain. When we want rain to go away, we sing “Rain, Rain, Go Away.” It is important to recognize when songs are a bit problematic like the informant did as well.

Customs
Folk Dance
Gestures
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Mexican Rain Dance

Mexican Rain Dance

Personal Background:

Stephanie is a junior at the University of Southern California studying biology. She has grown up with a lot of Mexican influence, and has even spent some time in Mexico with her parents and grandparents. She is living in Los Angeles at the moment and is very happy with some of the Mexican influence L.A. has.

Ritual:

In the small, rural area that Stephanie is from in Mexico, crops are a necessity. The people grow and eat all of their own corn, as well as other warmer climate vegetables. When she was around six years old and visiting her grandparents in Mexico, there was a lot of rain happening. It is important for the crops to get rain, but there was more rain than they needed. Stephanie’s family then decided they needed to do the dance that would stop the rain. They all started walking in a circle and started to sing as they walked. She says she does not remember how the song goes, but she remembers she liked it. It then turned out that the dance worked and the rain stopped. She is not sure if it was luck that it stopped, or if the dance actually worked. She has not tried it since, but she likes the idea that worked because of the dance her family did.

Even when there is a lot of rain, there are times when there is no rain. One thing Stephanie’s family has done in the past to help get the rain to come is carry a Virgin Mary statue around in the spots they want it to rain. This starts bringing the religious aspects that come with the Hispanic cultures.

These rituals mean a lot to Stephanie because without the rain her family does not have crops to eat. It makes her feel better to think these rituals work because her family spends a lot of time performing them. They give her memories of helping her family have things to eat, and she remembers having fun as kid getting to really embrace her Mexican culture.

Analysis:

This is some religious folk belief. They are doing the dance is part of a superstition, or even a magic to make the crops grow. It might be more of a psychological thing than anything else. If they think their dancing and prayers and work, then they will continue this way.

To me, this is exactly the type of thing a small area would do. They seem to have more rituals and traditions. They rely to heavily on nature, it is there only way they can feel they have control of anything.

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