Image: Sunday Observer
Traditional rituals are handed down from generation to generation. Such activities subsequently became the culture of the country. These processes inevitably change over the years, but their underlying value seems to have remained the same throughout the years by being passed on from generation to generation, through continuous practice.
Rice is the staple diet of Sri Lankans. Travel anywhere in Sri Lanka, anytime of the year, and you will see beautiful sights of lush green paddy fields everywhere. The traditional paddy cultivation system practiced by farmers includes the cultivation of traditional rice varieties, use of organic fertilizers such as straw, green manure, cow dung, poultry manure, weeds, management of pest and diseases by practicing kem karma (rituals) etc.
“See Sama” is the process of harrowing and preparing land prior to paddy cultivation, which is done using a Nagula (plough) and oxen. See Sama was performed ceremoniously during the reign of kings in a festival called ‘Vapmagula’.
In the traditional Sri Lankan society, people considered the auspicious time as the most important point of time to start work. Once work is started at an auspicious time, people concentrate their energy on finishing the work. This vital factor is furnished by the Vap Magula ceremony.
Very early on the morning of Vap Magula day, festival food such as milk rice, oil cakes and other delicious traditional food, is prepared, to be served to all those attending the festival. Before the auspicious time, all the farmers accompanied by members of their families assemble close to the paddy field. The leader of the village, or the most respected individual, will lead religious functions at the auspicious time. Meanwhile, experienced farmers harness ploughs to the buffaloes and be ready to start work as soon as the leader starts ploughing at the auspicious time. Soon after religious activities, the plough men, are served with milked rice and oil cakes. The leader will get into the paddy field and drive the first two buffalo units, to which the best plough in the village is harnessed. Once harrowing is complete, paddy seeds are sown or saplings are planted in the ground.
Paddy is harvested when they turn light gold in color. Farmers would harvest their crop together while singing ‘Goyam Kavi’. The harvest is temporarily stored in the Kamatha (threshing floor) before it is taken home.
These practices still take place throughout the country. For instance, as you leave Dambulla, you can see paddy fields and during season, you can hope to see the paddy cultivation. If you are eve short of things to do in Sigiriya, you should definitely look into this option.