Thai Village Turns to Cartoon Cat to Summon Rain and Combat Heat Wave

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Bangkok: Seeking Rain with a Japanese Cartoon Cat

As millions across Southeast Asia suffer from a blistering heat wave that is melting railway tracks, a Thai village in Nakhon Sawan province has resorted to an unusual method to seek rain: parading a Japanese cartoon cat. This creative approach to breaking the drought reflects the desperate situation caused by the intensifying heat waves in the region.

The Impact of Climate Change on Heat Waves

Thailand, like many other countries in Southeast Asia, has been sweltering in recent weeks as the temperature climbs. Experts attribute the increasing frequency, duration, and intensity of heat waves to climate change. The effects of climate change are becoming more evident in the region, and urgent action is needed to mitigate its impact.

The Ritual of “Hae Nang Meaw” and the Role of Cats

The villagers in Phayuha Khiri district revived an old dry season ritual known as “hae nang meaw” to bring rain to their parched land. Traditionally, this ritual involved parading a female cat, as some believed that the animals’ aversion to water was linked to rainfall. The meowing of the soaked cats was thought to summon precipitation.

However, in recent times, most villagers have shifted away from using real cats and instead lift dolls of popular Japanese manga characters like Doraemon or Hello Kitty. This change reflects the influence of global popular culture and the increasing popularity of these characters among the younger generation.

The Role of Doraemon in Easing the Drought

On a scorching Tuesday in Thailand’s heartland, Doraemon, the beloved Japanese manga cat, was paraded through the village. The sparkly dressed paraders carried a tinsel-decked cage containing the stuffed toy, while onlookers sprinkled it with water. This symbolic act of seeking rain through the presence of Doraemon highlights the villagers’ desperation and their hope for relief from the prolonged dry spell.

Heat Wave Challenges in Southern Thailand

While Doraemon was being paraded in Nakhon Sawan province, the searing heat took its toll on the railway tracks in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, located in the south of Thailand. The extreme heat, with temperatures reaching 41 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit), caused the railway tracks to buckle. Railway workers had to douse the rails with water to try to bend them back into shape.

The State Railway of Thailand attributed the warping of the tracks between Ron Phibun and Khao Chum Thong on April 30 to the “extreme heat.” Thankfully, after an hour of cooling down the rails with water and ice, they became usable again. However, the railway authorities remain vigilant as the high temperatures persist, and engineers will closely monitor the situation in the coming days.

The Wider Impact of Heat Waves in Southeast Asia

The heat wave gripping much of the region, from Bangladesh to the Philippines, has had severe consequences. Energy grids have been strained, leading to power outages and disruptions in daily life. Schools have been forced to close, leaving millions of children at home. The combination of the El Niño phenomenon and the overall warming trend in Asia, which is occurring at a faster rate than the global average, has exacerbated the intensity of this year’s exceptionally warm weather.


The story of the Thai village resorting to parading a Japanese cartoon cat to seek rain sheds light on the desperate measures people are taking in the face of intensifying heat waves and prolonged droughts. Climate change and its impact on weather patterns are becoming increasingly evident in Southeast Asia, necessitating urgent action to mitigate its effects. The use of cultural symbols like Doraemon in rituals reflects the influence of global popular culture and highlights the need for innovative solutions to address the challenges posed by climate change. As the region continues to grapple with the consequences of heat waves, it is crucial for governments, communities, and individuals to work together to adapt to and mitigate the effects of a changing climate.

Source: The Manila Times

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