Sex and Blood in the Rice Fields
I first wrote about rice several months ago in Rice, Not Only but Also. It is inescapable. I still live in Asia and still eat rice. Rice is unavoidable. In Thailand the word for eat is 'gin' but nobody uses the word on its own. It is always 'gin khau' or 'eat rice'. The commonest Thai greeting is 'Pai Nai?' (where are you going?) and is always asked when you are walking somewhere and invariably the answer is 'gin khau'. Listen to any Lao/Thai conversation and you will hear it littered with references to rice. Rice, not bread, is the staff of life.
In my complicated life and more by accident than design, I ended up in two very strong relationships (at the same time).Purely by coincidence both turned out to be rice farmers daughters. Happily both were in two different countries, one in Thailand and one in the Philippines. I have spent time with the families of both on the rice farms. I have sat on bags of rice and drank rice whiskey (Yaa Dong) till I could not stand. I have fallen asleep on a bamboo bed to the rythmic sound of rice threshing. I have feasted on tadpoles caught in rice paddies. I have eaten rice grown just twenty feet from where I was sitting and declare it to be the tastiest ever.
Rice has become part of my life without me ever being aware that it was happening.
Sex and Blood in the Rice Fields
Rice has been grown in Asia since man moved over from hunter to farmer. The growing of rice pre-dates any of the established religions, be it Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or other. Animism hangs on in the background as cultural tradition, superstition, old wives tales and "we have always done it that way".
Rice is life. Water is life. Sex is life. They all tie in together in parts. Raindrops from the sky are sometimes associated with sperm falling onto and fertilising mother earth. Not so far from the symbolism of a Jonas Brothers concert where the excited female fans are sprayed with droplets of foam.
In Isaan in Northern Thailand phallic 'Mek' dolls made of clay are modelled even today to encourage the fall of rain. In parts of Java husband and wife will have sexual intercourse in the rice paddies as soon as the first green shoots appear. The 'Mek' may not always be man but water associated creatures such as frogs or monitor lizards.
Having seen the rain attract the huge monitor lizards from the jungles in the Perentian Islands I can clearly see how the two inter connect. It also goes a long way towards explaining why they are not killed. No monitors. No rain.
The Dyaks of Borneo have a special rice feast to appease the rice spirits. Glutinous rice is cooked in lengths of bamboo and 'Tuak' (rice wine) is drunk and everyone gets very happy.
When my devoted Catholic Filipina girlfriend and her family built up new dams around the rice field a young goat was slaughtered and the blood spilled on the sluice gate.
There is sex and blood in the rice fields.
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