Regular readers will have noticed some of the visual changes to New Mandala. Some of you may be interested in the mandala logo itself. In fact, it is a neatly arranged pile of rice seedlings, ready for transplanting into ploughed and flooded fields. Here is a brief photo essay on how this fascinating – and fundamentally important – process works in the north of Thailand.
First ingredient – one seedling bed, with the seedlings about 30 days old.
Second ingredient – a shelter from the sun and a team of labourers. If you can’t get enough friends, neighbours and relatives to come and help (you will have to help them too) hire some more.
Step one – pull out the seedlings.
Step two – tie them into bundles with short bamboo ties.
Step 3 – trim the bundles with a knife wedged in a short bamboo pole (don’t fall on the kinfe!).
Step 4 – arrange the trimmed bundles in a neat pile.
Step 5 – carry the bundles to the flooded field and toss them in (distribute evenly for best result and try to splash pretty girl or headman).
Step 6 – make offering to resident spirits. Even a minor offering like this should do the job, but a grander offering would be welcome.
Step 7 – the crucial step. Arrange labourers along the edge of field (fastest to slowest) and start planting.
Step 8 – sit back and enjoy the finished work (but not too much – it starts again tomorrow in someone else’s field). Like farmers everywhere, discuss the lack of government interest in agricultural matters. Enjoy the hospitality provided by the owner of the field.