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|The Village and the paddy field|
|Self help is an important aspect in village life|
|Copyright © LL|
|RH / Updated 2008|
Self help is an important aspect in village life. People in the village help each other in their tasks whether it be preparing the fields, thatching the roof of the house, a wedding or any other occasion where labour is required. They don't accept money for the services. It's more for friendship and goodwill. They believe in helping each other in an hour of need.
There are several stages in the preparation of the paddy field. The first stage is to clear the field by removing the weeds, which grow when the field is allowed to rest after harvesting. During this stage, commonly called 'puran keteema', the clearing is first done by using the mammoty and then the plough drawn by the buffaloes is used. This is done to turn the sods of earth. After a few days, the earth is broken into smaller bits with the mammoty and feet. During this stage (`devana keteema') the mud is levelled with the feet and a flat board which is drawn from one end of the field to the other. Now the field is ready for sowing ('vepireema').
In certain areas, prior to the commencement of the work, it is customary to invoke the blessings of the deities. They also pray for rain and for a rich harvest. A small structure on four sticks is made at the corner of the field using 'gokkola'. Betel and flowers are kept and an oil lamp is lit.
Those who help in the work are given tea and meals in the field itself. This is looked after by the females in the family led by the 'govirala's wife. Tea is brought in a 'kala gediya' (clay pot) and served with either a piece of jaggery or a spoonful of sugar served to the palm. By lunchtime they bring the 'ambula' - a tasty rice and curry meal served not on plates but on 'nelum kola' or 'kehel kola'. A betel chew follows.
Traditionally, the farmer prepares his own seed paddy for sowing. A selected portion is generally kept aside for this purpose after each harvest. Today most of them buy the seed paddy from government stores. Seed paddy is chosen depending on the time it takes to mature. This depends on the availability of water, which again depends on whether the water is received through irrigation channels in which case there will be a regular flow, or whether the farmer is dependant on the rains. The farmer would thus select either 'vedimal vee' , which mature at the end of the full period or 'baala vee' which take lesser time to mature. Prior to sowing, the seed paddy is kept for two or three days in water until the seed begins to sprout.
Although paddy is generally known as the lazy man's crop because once sown, he doesn't have to worry much, in actual fact, there is a routine to follow. Sowing may take one of two forms.
One is to sow the entire paddy field and once the plants come up, the gaps are filled by planting new ones. The other is to sow a portion of the field in a thick layer of plants and to remove them and plant in the entire field when they are a little big. The latter is being practised more now with the hope of getting a better yield.
It enables an even spread of plants at regular intervals with adequate space to grow. Planting is done by females who flock in numbers to help. They form themselves into a single line and singing 'goyam kavi' to ease the burden of the task, start planting in rows.
Next comes weeding where again the females assist. The fields have to be protected by pests and although pesticides are used today, the traditional farmer would prefer to follow native practices used over the ages to protect the fields.
Certain kinds of leaves are used to keep flies and other pests away. As the fields begin to mature and the golden sheaves begin to appear, the birds arrive, usually in numbers, to enjoy a good meal. It's quite an operation to chase them away. And when they are chased away from one field, they land in another. So it becomes a continuous operation of singing and shouting to scare the birds away.