Celebrating Mungaru at BuDa Angadibail

BuDa Folklore is the outcome of three decades of intense fieldwork and research related to folk culture of Uttara kannada

Mungaru, celebrating the monsoon took me off Google Maps and to Angadibail, a forest area at the foothills of the western ghats.

It was a thrilling three days of paddy transplanting, bathing in streams, no cellular network, no electricity, bath products and toiletries made with forest finds, foraging for food and tasting new ingredients and meeting very interesting people.

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There are more than 1,00,000 distinct varieties of rice around the world. India produces 90 million tonnes of rice each year and in Asia majority of rice fields are manually transplanted that require about 25–30 person hours for one hectare. On an average an Indian would consume 68.2 kg milled rice per year. How many of us actually are thinking where this lovely soft matter comes from when its steaming hot on our plate beckoning a flavourful curry or even a teaspoon of ghee to make a satisfying meal?

At BuDa, Savita Uday is not just bringing an understanding of the growing of paddy, but the importance of land and seed preservation through the cultivation of folk rice varieties like halaga, ratnachuda, kempu-halaga and hegge. On day one we plucked the paddy from the roots (BuDa) and tied them in bunches. And the following day using traditional farming with plows drawn by bulls to turn in top soil, bring nutrients to the surface and to bury weeds. After which planted the paddy back into the soil.

Hands deep in the dirt, listening to the women sing to the plants and buda, some mud slinging and kokum juice to cool down gave a new meaning to a simple staple rice — not just nourishing for the body but the stories of the hands that grow them through song make it food for the soul.

This celebration went off the paddy field and onto the kabaddi court with locals showcasing some incredible game!

We celebrated the monsoon by making seed balls of kokum and soapnut and launching them into the forest and by also planting around 30 kokum tree saplings in a small forest clearing.

The forest at mungaru has so much to offer.

Kusumale Hannu a wild flower is used in making a type of tambooli (digestif drink) and the berries taste like tiny bites of apple.

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Tagate Soppu
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Bramhi Leaves
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Moor Dharekai a wild fruit used as an urad dal substitute for dosa. When ground into a paste it resembles the mucilaginous structure of ground black gram!

No words or pictures could weave together the feeling of breathing & living that lush green cover and the joy of community in the field, forest and kitchen. Fortunately Savita hosts three festivals year round — kokum harvest in summer, Jaggery festival in February and Mungaru in August — and I can’t wait to go back.

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A First Monsoon Again

by Arundhathi Subramaniam

At first
it’s nostalgia —

downpour of kisses
under a weeping umbrella,

a euphoria
of gulmohur,

an eternity
of adrak chai,

every moment
the memory of a previous one

when the skies were crazier,
love purer,
life simpler,

when the heart turned Malabar,
the spirit Arabian,

desire Coromandel,
laughter more Gene Kelly

and words like baarish
and mazhai

were headier,
truer.

The first rains
are always
this plagiarism of yearning,

every moment
an echo of another

and then another —

the thunder the roar
of an outlawed god

whose hair is a foaming green river
through which seahorse

and minnow dart deliriously
around a crescent moon,

and every dark cloud a courier
from a classical past,

and longing
a rising fever of loam

and thirst for a man whose voice
is blue ash and oatmeal (with a twist of Gulzar).

It takes
a long time

to arrive
at this Tuesday at elevenness

when we open our windows
to the outrage,
the impossible nowness,

the gasp,
the rawness,

the sock in the chest,
the newness,

the raving psychosis,
the brazen never beforeness

and say the word,

our voices alight
with unguarded wonder

and a kind
of ancient terror:

“Monsoon”.

Written by

When in doubt steam some idli’s

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