Today, rice seedlings will be transplanted. The rice fields around Balam Bali Villa are already flooded with water. I particularly like this magical moment with the arrival of a group of women wearing their round hat early in the morning. They gently pull the seedlings from the nursery where the seeds have germinated and have been growing for 10 to 20 days. The seedlings form a soft carpet of a delicate green. Men can also contribute to this exhausting work which bends the farmer's body at a right angle. The farmers gather the seedlings into small bunches and put onto wicker or plastic baskets. They gently push the basket away with their feet as the transplanting work progresses. Each transplanting requires a few seconds, and lines of green rapidly appear.
I read the farmers used to hold a ceremony before transplanting the seedlings. The oldest farmer planted seedlings in the middle of the rice field. They were planted in the direction of the volcanoes for the gods, in the direction of the sea for the spirits, to the East and to the West. Finally, seedlings were put at the centre of these four cardinal points to honour Mt Agung. An offering was planted to find them easily at harvest time. This particular sheaf was cut and then offered to Dewi Sri, goddess of rice and fertility before keeping in the farmer’s rice barn. This ceremony seems no longer held at the present day. However, the day of transplanting, farmers pray and place offerings in the small temples by the rice fields, one on the top of the temple for the gods, and one at the bottom for the spirits.
From the terrace of Balam Bali Villa, the view is wonderful. We can follow their work which gives life to the brown mud. Each seedling appears like a tiny miracle, giving a few dozens grams of paddy after four months.
Learn more about rice: Rice Knowledge Bank