Tuesday, March 01, 2011
This is a very typical rural scene in the outskirts of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. These stepped padi fields are very common and you can watch the locals tend the rice using traditional methods.
Rice, to the Balinese, is more than just the staple food; it is an integral part of the Balinese culture. The rituals of the cycle of planting, maintaining, irrigating, and harvesting rice enrich the cultural life of Bali beyond a single staple can ever hope to do. At the beginning of planting time, after the water buffalloes walk the rice fields several times to prepare them, ceremonies are held to carry the young stems of rice that have been nurtured in a special nursery. On each section of the rice fields, the corner nearest to Gunung Agung will receive the honor to be the first place to receive the young stems of rice.
The water level in each section is perfect; little streams of water effortlessly flow from the highest section up on top of the hill to the very bottom section. The planning and responsiblity of the irrigation and planting schedule are arranged through subak, a Balinese system that ties together rice cultivation with its water temple system. Historical evidence dates this system to around the 11th century, yet the yield per acre of a Balinese rice field is about the highest in the world!
Before planting, throughout growing time, at harvesting, ceremonies are held and offerings are presented to Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice. In the middle of rice fields far from the village, you often find little shrines with netaly presented flowers, fruit, and offerings for Dewi Sri.