Kathmandu, June 29
Farmers throughout the country on Friday observed the festival Asar Pandhra or the 15th day of the month of Asar, that falls around the end of June.
As the day falls during the peak time of paddy plantation, it also celebrated as rice day in recent years. The objective is to promote traditional farming system as well as to protect indigenous rice varieties that are facing extinction risks due to introduction of hybrid varieties.
Farmers observe rice plantation with a sense of festivity and joy as they play with mud and water, sing the special song of the month and eat Dahi Chiura (beaten rice mixed with curd) as a special food of the day.
The farmers observed the 9th Rice Day despite scarcity of chemical fertilizers and lack of sufficient rainfall this year.
Rice is the major and staple food for Nepalese and other south Asian people.
The month of Asar is a busy time for Nepalese farmers as they carry out the plantation at the beginning of monsoon rains. Farmers give special significance to this month as right time to plant a kilo to grow tones.
Monsoon rains are essential for paddy plantation because most of Nepalese hill farmlands lack irrigation facilities. Good monsoon results in harvest of bumper crops while insufficient rains results in food crisis.
In some places, women plant rice saplings to the tune of special music played for the occasion.
According to an official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC), the production of paddy and maize in Nepal is likely to go down this year because of a long drought and scarcity of chemical fertilizers during the plantation season.
Dr. Hari Dahal, Spokesperson at MoAC said that the national demand for fertilizers is about 500,000 metric tones. Out of it, about 100,000 metric tonnes are needed annually for paddy crops across the country.
Meanwhile, Asar 15 was also observed in Pokhara and Ilam with much fanfare.
According to our Kaski correspondent, a large number of US, Australian and other tourists participated in the 9th Rice Day festival by enjoying beaten rice and curd and splashing mud each other.
Seven students and a professor of Noterdam Academy University of US had arrived in Pokhara to participate in the festival a week ago.
The day was marked in a paddy filed of at Batsyana Home for elderly that spread in an area of 20 ropanu lands in Bachchiduwa in Pokhara-18.
Similarly, in the Rice Day festival marked in Sera of Ilam-3, 25 farmers were honoured with prizes.