Rice in Bali
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. And the vista of beautifully sculpted rice field terraces will
always be in your memory...
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Artwork designs by Margaretha Hutauruk.
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