Rice is Life - Kambalanatti
Music, rhythm, community, joy…
This is what the celebration of Kambalanatti represents in Wayanad. Among the beautiful hills, with the clouds a stone’s throw away the lush paddy fields beckon… the beauty hides the toil that growing paddy requires.
Paddy farming needs a village or at the least a community. Paddy farmers traditionally helped each other during peak times- transplanting and harvesting. Particularly in the Adivasi community, it used to be a regular practice for families to pitch in with each other agricultural work. Both activities need to be completed within a day or two, while carefully watching the weather. Neighbours, relatives, bystanders, everybody chips in and to make it joyous music and food are added to the equation.
Like many traditions, this had also ceased to be celebrated and now new age organic farmers are giving the clarion call for reviving the culture of paddy along with promoting indigenous varieties …
Bending double in the waterlogged field, planting a few tiny saplings, spacing it, walking backwards bent, can be tedious and never-ending. The music and the company lightens the labour.
Rajesh the organic farmer from whose fields we get our various Wayanad rices says, ” the music charges people up, they sway to it joyfully and the drudgery is forgotten. For almost 50 years Kambalanatti was not celebrated when it was started four years back. This is our fourth year and by evening our fields were full of young and old, swaying, singing and transplanting. We want to bring back the joy of paddy cultivation. Every person who was there that day ate a delicious lunch of Thondi rice and Mullan kazhama payasam .”
He added another very important point which moved me immensely, ” this rice is grown with joy and laughter and commitment to paddy farming and it will only benefit those who eat it.” To think of the connection between the farmer and eater!
Like the farmers bringing joy into paddy farming we need to bring joy into eating, tasting and cooking rice:
it is not about calories and GI and bran;
it is not about longer cooking time & inconvenience;
it is about a grain that feeds half of the humankind;
it is about the taste that lingers;
it is about the nourishment that it gives without harming us;
it is about the joy we derive from trying new varieties;
it is about the gratitude we owe the wonderful organic farmers who are reviving the varieties;
Try a Wayanad rice, join the joy of indigenous paddy farming by creating the joy of eating these lovely rices.
On the joyous occasion of Onam, Kerala’s harvest festival my eternal gratitude to the organic farmers who feed us…
Video credit: Uma and thanks to Rajesh and Usha for stories of kambalanatti
Call us at 9790516500 for a rice recommendation, for cooking times, suggestions on what to prepare.