Saturday, June 29, 2013

Asar 15

Today is 15th day of Asar (June-July), the third Nepali month, the special day that signifies the busiest day of the year for farmers who actively involve in planting rice.

Rice plantation begins from first week of Asar, or even earlier, depending upon the weather condition in various parts of the country. Eastern part sees the monsoon early so their begins the plantation earlier than the west. Asar 15 is generally regarded as the peak day and celebrated as a special occasion.

Rice is grown almost every part of Tarai region for rice is staple food for most Nepali. Depending upon soil fertility and availability of water, rice is grown two times a year in many areas. Rice, planted in Chait (March-April), is harvested during Asar.
Generally monsoon rain affects the harvesting of this rice (called Chite dhan) and hay could not be used as fodder. While monsoon plantation, the major agricultural activity, is yielding rice along with dry hay suitable for domestic animals, during Kartik (October-November).

Dalbhat (lentil soup and cooked rice) is the most popular food in Nepal. We eat dalbhat two times a day every morning and evening as main course. We are so accustomed to dalbhat that no other food could make our stomach filling. People grow rice whole heartedly mainly for themselves for rice is essential for survival.

Planting rice is a celebration. It seems farmlands transform into grand stage where people enjoy singing monsoon song, splashing each other with mud, eating dahi chiura (beaten rice with yogurt). Nepali culture is about festivities and merrymaking which is also reflected in our work that is the harbinger of success to have bountiful harvest.

Government agencies and farmers' organizations also observe this special day as Rastriya Dhan Dibas (National Rice Plantation Day) organizing different agricultural activities to increase the rice production for the food security in the country.

Ecological Farmers' Forum and Bird Education Society have been jointly organizing the Rice Plantation Program every year to promote organic farming using natural pesticides and fertilizers.

Organizers inform people how to do the treatment of rice seedlings in EM solution (effective micro-organism) to protect them from diseases. They urge people to use compost and bokasi fertilizers in substitute of chemical ones.

There is whole lot of procedures from preparing rice seedlings to harvesting rice grain and regular care is required every step. Jena Mahato, local resident of Debauli, visits his farmland in every couple of days after planting rice. "Rice plants could also feel our presence" says Jena.
Tractor and modern tools are used in most flat areas, but traditional method of using ox to plough the land is still used in those areas where there is no accessibility of the modern tools. Mangal Chepang of Kolar descends down to lowland to plant rice on small piece of land at the edge of stream that he has owned.
He generally involve in cultivating corn, millet and buckwheat in the hills. Hill people mostly eat dhido, a sort of thick and sticky porridge made by boiling corn flour with water. He has to bring down ox and all the traditional tools to lowland to plant rice. He enjoys his work, "Our little effort will give us to eat dalbhat".

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