Gleaning is called ‘Leseri Butola’ in Assamese. Children of the villages in Assam are seen playing on the harvested fields to glean these rice stalks overlooked by the harvester. Flocks of birds descend on these harvested fields to feed on the rice stalks left behind by the farmers. Flocks of bright green parrot and other birds hovering over harvested paddy fields is a common sight in rural Assam. Leaving behind a part of the produce for birds and other fauna is an illustration of harmonious relationship between human life and wildlife. Such acts of the farmers, done knowingly or unknowingly, also help in conservation of different species. Hundreds of different species of birds descending on the harvested fields to glean rice stalks on a paddy field covered by a veil of fog is a captivating sight during winter in rural Assam. Residents of nearby villages are awakened by cheerful noises made by the approaching birds at the crack of dawn. This is followed by a fascinating view little children of the nearby villages gleaning rice stalks from the harvested fields. The little children with bamboo baskets or bags in hands glean rice grains. In some areas, the children used to arrange feast of Uruka of Magh Bihu (post-harvest festival in Assam) with the money they earn by selling the rice grains gleaned from harvested fields. Although the scene of children gleaning rice stalks from harvested fields is rare now, it is still in vogue in some parts of the state. Village elders always cherish the memories of such activities of childhood innocence.
Photo and text - Girimallika Saikia
( Girimallika Saikia teaches in a High School in Golaghat district of Assam. A nature lover, Saikia also loves to spend time with children. She has special interest in photography)