November 20th 2010: In “Basudha” farm, in Bankura district – Celebration of rice diversity and local culture – a leisurely day punctuated by a long padayatra, village meetings and cultural events

We reached “Basudha” farm run by Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies late in the night, after having
waited for an Andhra farmer to join us in the bus in Kolkata. There were two makeshift tents put up for
the Yatris, one for the men and one for the women. It was a proper camping out for all of us, what with
the moonlight shining down on everything brightly.

The farm is a zero-plastic zone and we were impressed by the low-resource use that one could witness
everywhere, including in the way water was conserved and used minimally.

Our day began with an organic breakfast of cooked rice and puffed rice eaten with dal and vegetable.
We left on a padayatra of two villages after this – Arjunpur and Paanchal. There were new slogans in
Bangla that we heard here – long slogans ending with “Chahe na”, “door hato” and so on.

We stopped in various street corners of Arjunpur village to address ourselves to the farmers there.
However, no interaction was possible. This was followed by a similar effort in Paanchal village. Here,
many of us had several rasgollas each in the local sweets shop.

Later, we walked back to Basudha farm where twelve different varieties of rice that are conserved in the
farm were cooked and served for tasting. Basudha, over the years, has managed to collect and conserve
nearly 690 varieties of paddy.

Lunch was followed by a cultural event where Baoul singing on the rich agricultural traditions of the
region was organized. It was explained that in the local culture, ‘wealth’, ‘paddy’ and ‘prosperity’ were
almost synonymous.

The day ended with Santhal music and dancing with reverberating drum beats accompanied by the soft,
high-pitched singing by Santhali women.

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