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Girimallika Saikia
Date of Publish: 2017-02-09

When paddy fields turn yellow to bring the golden moments of their life

When the paddy fields turn Golden yellow they beckon the children in the villages in Assam to get ready for the most cherished moments of their childhood. As soon as the harvesting begins, the children flock to the paddy fields. Exuberance of playful activities on the harvested fields fills their life with joy. They make the straw whistle, chase and catch the grasshopper and then let it fly away,dig esculent root, glean the rice stalks left behind by the harvester. Their joy knows no bounds when they see the flocks of Common Quails or the parrots flying freely over the paddy fields. It is a sight to behold. They children blow the straw whistle in rhythm with the cracklings of the flying birds.

They search the paddy fields from one end to the other for the right kind of straw to make the flute. A thick and long straw is taken and is knotted on one end. It is cut at the length of two and half inch or three inch. About six nodes are shaped just near the knot by rubbing the straw with the finger, or with a knife or a sickle. A small straw is then inserted through the open end to clear the wind path. Now, it is ready for blowing. The sound varies depending on the length of the nodes. Like the flock of the birds flying off crackling in chorus, the children also gleefully scamper blowing their straw-whistles.

The harvested paddy fields also provide an ideal arena for the children to play hide and seek in the thick of the tall straws and to build straw houses. Parents leaving their kids in such straw houses while they are busy in the paddy field used to be common sight earlier.

They also scramble the harvested fields for black markers near some rice panicles locally called ‘Dhanor Mahi’ which they apply on their forehead. They relish on a kind of esculent root of a plant with long leaves like onion leaves that grow on the damp and wet areas of the paddy fields, locally called sesu, which they enjoy much digging out collectively.

Another playful activity of the children on harvested fields is gleaning the rice stalks left behind on the paddy fields during harvesting which is known as Leseri Botola in Assamese.

They carry small bamboo baskets to collect the rice stalks and enjoy feast of Uruka of Magh Bihu (post-harvest festival in Assam) with it. The children help the village elders in building mejis and bhelaghars during the Magh bihu and join them in reaping the rice straws needed.

They cherish the memories of these cheerful moments forever.

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. She can be reached at girimalikasaikia@gmail.com)

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