The mysterious incidence of Blood rain in Kerala

Can you imagine finding yourself standing in a road while blood rain is pouring down on you ? Sounds strange and terrific , right? But people of Kerala had experienced this in their lives and here’s the interesting explanation about the cause of this ‘BLOOD RAIN’ and also supporting hypotheses. 

Now, let’s get started…

History of occurence

On 15th july 1957, the incidence of Red rain occurred in Wayanad district of Kerala. The colour of the rain subsequently turned into yellow. But this wasn’t the only occurrence of ‘Red rain’ in Kerala. Again in 2001 from 25th July to 23rd September , the Red rain poured down sporadically in Kerala. Other coloured rain such as yellow, green and black rain were also reported in 1896 and several times since the most recent one in June 2012.

The most noticeable once was on 25th July 2001, when the red rain poured down in the districts Kottayam and Idukki and more occurrences of the blood rain was reported in the next 10 days and continued with a diminishing frequency till late september.

Observation around the area

According to the local people living around the area ,the first rain began to pour down after a loud thunderclap and a flash of light. This was followed by the shedding of the shrivelled grey ‘burnt’ leaves. The blood rain lasted no longer than 20 minutes . Around 9 million red coloured particles were present in one millimetre of rain and 50,000 kilograms of red coloured particles had fallen off in Kerala.

Sample of 'Red Rain of Kerala

Chemical composition of the particles

Some samples of the Red rain were taken to the Centre for Earth Science Studies .And here are some of the findings found from the sample:

Physicists Godfrey Louis and Santhosh Kumar of Mahatma Gandhi University(MGU) , Kerala showed that the red coloured particles were mostly composed of carbon and oxygen and with trace amounts of silicon and iron. 

J Thomas Brenna in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University concluded that the particles collapsed when dried which suggested the particles were filled with fluid. 7 amino acids were identified in the particles and they were :

The results concluded that the particles must have a marine origin or a terrestrial plant .

Red Rain in Kerala

The Final Reports 

The Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) stated that an exploding meteor which has dispersed about 1000 kilograms of material is the cause of the Red rain . After a few days , the CESS retracted what they said before as the particles resembled spores and that the debris from the meteor would not fall one a particle place for a longer period of time from the stratosphere . Hence, a  sample was handed over to the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute(TBGRI) for microbiological studies. 

This was the report which was published by Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology , the CESS and TBGRI jointly : 

The colour was found to be due to the presence of a large amount of spores of a lichen-forming alga belonging to the genus Trentepohlia. Field verification showed that the region had plenty of such lichens. Samples of lichen taken from Changanacherry area, when cultured in an algal growth medium, also showed the presence of the same species of algae. Both samples (from rainwater and from trees) produced the same kind of algae, indicating that the spores seen in the rainwater most probably came from local sources. 

The report also concluded that there were no meteoric or volcanic or any other desert dust origin in the rainwater and that no gas or pollutants were the cause of the colour of the rain. It concluded that there was widespread growth of lichens which resulted in the abundant amount of lichens present in the atmosphere.

However, these conclusions don't give them satisfaction since these lichens must undergo the phase of reproduction to produce their spores and also the transportation of the spores to the clouds is still a question which can’t be solved .  And finding the answer for these questions is still a challenge.

In March 2006 , Milton Wainwright at the University of Sheffield said that the particles were similar to the appearance of the rust fungus and later concluded the presence of DNA and found no evidence to suggest the presence of dust ,sand or blood. In November 2012, Rajkumar Gangappa and Stuart Hogg from the University of Glamorgan, UK, confirmed that the red rain cells from Kerala contain DNA.

In February 2015, a team of scientists from India and Austria, also supported the identification of the algal spores as Trentepohlia annulata, however, they speculate that the spores from the 2011 incident were carried by winds from Europe to the Indian subcontinent. 

The Panspermia Hypothesis

Many hypotheses were released to explain the phenomenon that happened in Kerala but ‘Panspermia Hypothesis’ was the most interesting , which stole the people’s mind. In 2003 , Godfrey Louis and Santhosh Kumar, physicists at MGU , posted an article titled as “Cometary Panspermia explains the red rain of Kerala” . Both physicists took the flash of light and the thunderclap as the key evidence . According to their theory , a meteor containing red particles was the cause of the flash and sound. The meteor disintegrated over Kerala and released the particles slowly , which fell to the ground according to their approach . But here too they missed a puzzle piece to explain the continuous fall of the debris from a meteor over a particular area for a long period . 

Their work on this hypothesis showed that these coloured particles have a biological origin . Their idea was to show the presence of cells in the meteor (indirectly suspecting for an extraterrestrial source,to be exact - a source from aliens). They examined the presence of DNA or RNA in these particles using ethidium bromide , which showed them a result as absence of DNA or RNA. Another paper was released by them entitled as “New biology of red rain extremophiles prove cometary panspermia" in which they stated as :

The microorganism isolated from the red rain of Kerala shows very extraordinary characteristics, like the ability to grow optimally at 300 °C (572 °F) and the capacity to metabolise a wide range of organic and inorganic materials.

In 2006 , Louis and Kumar published a paper entitled "The red rain phenomenon of Kerala and its possible extraterrestrial origin" which explains about the extraterrestrial source being a cause for the red rain in Kerala. The team concluded that “The fluorescence behaviour of the red cells is shown to be in remarkable correspondence with the extended red emission observed in the Red Rectangle Nebula and other galactic and extragalactic dust clouds, suggesting, though not proving an extraterrestrial origin." 

Researcher Chandra Wickramasinghe used Louis and Kumar’s “extraterrestrial origin” to support his panspermia hypothesis called cosmic ancestry. This hypothesis concludes telling that lie is neither a product of supernatural creation nor is it spontaneously generated through abiogenesis but it has always existed in the universe. Cosmic ancestry speculates that higher life forms, including intelligent life, descend ultimately from pre-existing life which was at least as advanced as the descendants .


Whatever the information published, we do have some critics. And the same way, the paper published by Louis did have some critics. Louis published a paper stating that the coloured particles started to reproduce in high temperature without DNA. But this was a false statement which was later proven false by Milton Wainwright and Chandra Wickramasinghe by showing the presence of DNA in spores. But anyhow this was a key for Louis and Kumar’s “Extraterrestrial origin” . 

Apart from critics, this incident happened in Kerala is still not completely solved since no proper explanations could be given to the conclusion given by the government . Anyhow, further use of technology only can give us the real answer for this mysterious phenomenon. However, let’s hope we find more questions with more answers in our near future…

So, I hope that this article would have been interesting … 

Thank you for reading this article…

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An article by Zandriana

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