In the life of an average Sri Lankan certain things always remain constant: the love-hate relationship with cricket, gathering inspiration from tuk-tuk quotes and most of all, the rice and curry mixed with all of Ammi’s love. All that begins with the hard work and commitment of farmers all around the island. Men who set off to work every morning to feed not just their families but ours too.
Rice cultivation is a major participant in the welfare of the country that provides employment and food and covers over 34% of the cultivated land. The Eastern district of Ampara is responsible for about 15% of the rice production within the country.
Set far off from the hustle of the capital, this is the perfect destination for those looking for a little peace and quiet. It is a long tiring journey by road but driving down the countryside with green blankets of paddy that end where they meet the blue of the sky makes it worth the trip.
In addition to breathtaking scenery, the people of this region place great value to traditions and bringing both of these together is a long-standing observance carried out year after year. Cultivation occurs during two major seasons: Maha and Yala. Harvesting of the crops marks the end of each season and with this comes the gesture of gratitude the farmers express to their landlords. A sign of respect that has passed from generation to generation up to this day.
On the day of harvesting, the farmer’s family is up at sunrise to prepare a grand feast for the landlord and his household members. The humble family puts together a meal that comprises of over ten dishes and consists of vegetables and fruits cultivated in their home garden. The site of dining is perhaps the most unexpected of this tradition. The family doesn’t entertain the landlord in their own home. However, with the food packed and ready, they head off to the paddy field. At the centre stands a small hay thatched hut with its bamboo stairs that will house this splendid feast.
Following the lavish meal, the landlord returns the kindness and respect to his workman by giving him the first of bundle of paddy from his field. The farmer then threshes the paddy along side his family and carries home the grains of rice.
Although it may appear to be a minute observance, it sends home two families with both a full stomach and heart.