In India a ritual was held when the the cotton boles (pods) ripen and burst. When this change in the plant occurs, it was the custom to select the largest plant in the field and having sprinkled it with buttermilk and rice water, to bind it all over with pieces of cotton taken from other plants in the field.
The selected plant is called “Mother Cotton” and after salutations are made to it, prayers are offered that the other plants may resemble it in the richness of their produce.
In other areas of India, when the cotton pods begin to burst, women go round the field, and as a kind of lustration, throw salt into it, with similar supplications that the produce may be abundant. The practice appears to be observed in somewhat similar fashion to the Ambravalia of the Romans and the Field-Litanies of the English Church.
Cotton is a kharif crop which requires 6 to 8 months to mature. Dates for this ritual vary from year to year, region to region because its time of sowing and harvesting differs in different parts of the country depending upon the climatic conditions. In Punjab and Haryana it is sown in April-May and is harvested in December-January that is before the winter frost can damage the crop.
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