Monsoon season and Rice Planting Festival
Rice is everything to Asia, and possibility the rest of the world. It feeds huge populations cheaply, and the best rice in the world comes from these regions. Farmers here have been producing rice for hundreds of years, and their culture evolves around it. Temples, monks, laborers, the Mekong–everything evolves around rice. It can be planted several times a year, and is planted in large clumps of grass, with the laborer standing in flooded fields from large valves which open to let the water in from the river. After it is planted, depending on the size of the land cultivated, the villagers simply wait for harvest.
Harvest time is when the laborers pull the stalks of rice from the ground, and load them onto a vehicle. The stalks are then beaten against the ground, usually with a tarp covering the earth. The rice seeds then simply fall into a pile. Then the rice must be milled to take off the outer husks, and it is ready for shipment.
In order to begin the major planting season, the people wait for “RUDU FON TOK” which translates into rain season, but also could mean “know-see rain”. Isaan is the most humble area of Thailand, with entire villages dependant on the price of rice. But change is coming and the major cities are growing substantially, in addition to which major rail transportation is being built as we speak. In twenty years we will look back on such places with nostalgia, as they will have become cities and towns in the mainstream of Thailand due to economic growth.
Each year at the start of this planting, the villagers have a festival which marks the beginning of the season. It is characterized by parties, beer, parades and most notably, a rocket festival. This festival symbolizes a prayer to the higher power by shooting rockets up to the sky. The boys in the village all seem to be expert at making rockets, which they shoot out of large hollowed-out bamboo. The rockets sometimes go incredibly high, and the villagers all come to see the spectacle, which is also an opportunity for entertainment such as musical groups and when enebriated enough, mud wrestling!