Mark your dates with RICE
The team behind India’s millet calendar is back, and this year’s focus is on rice
Calendars were, at one point of time, revered. They were printed in tens of thousands by corporations, companies, non-profit institutions. The doors of power opened with gifts of diaries and calendars. The fast world of smartphones, computers and online enchantment has meant that no one really cares so much for calendars these days. But innovations continue, and calendars are now a tool for spreading awareness.
One such is the Rice Calendar 2019. As Krishna Prasad G, founder, Sahaja Samrudha, says, “Rice Calendar 2019 is a unique effort by the Save Our Rice Campaign and Sahaja Samrudha to popularise traditional rice and recipes.” Krishna Prasad had earlier come out with two editions of the millet calendar to popularise the use of millets. Rice is a natural extension.
Why rice, you think? Krishna Prasad explains, “Today, the younger generation knows only two or three varieties of rice. It is basmati in the North and sona masuri in the South. But our heritage of rice is far more. There are rice varieties which have medicinal properties; several can be used only for making sweet dishes; some are grown in saline areas; a few are grown in drylands. Some rices are aromatic: the fragrance can be noticed from a kilometre away. Rice diversity is vast.”
Krishna Prasad adds, “It is not as if people do not want to use it. They just do not know about it, where to buy or how to cook it. This calendar is a unique effort to popularise the traditional varieties of rice. We have given a chart of 13 recipes with the rice. The varieties of rice have been taken from across the country and include chak hao of Manipur, gobindobogh from Bengal and navara from Kerala.”
India in the Vedic period is supposed to have had around 4,00,000 varieties of rice. RH Richharia, the leading Indian rice scientist who documented and collected nearly 19,000 varieties in his lifetime, is said to have believed that India had over two lakh varieties. The underlying fact is that India’s traditional bowl of rice has enough biodiversity to last more than a lifetime. Each variety of rice is unique in characteristics and aroma. Each has a specific growing cycle, can withstand climatic extremes and uses lesser resources, paving the way for sustainable farming.
So the rice calendar is a way of reminding people of this vast inheritance and treasure. With recipes, images and information, it makes for interesting reading, and is, of course, a cynosure of all eyes on the wall.
So what does the calendar have? It talks of the rich heritage value and the role it plays in the life of Indians. From the first time food is given to a child (annaprashna), it is associated with fertility, auspiciousness, it is used to welcome guests with, it is showered as blessings (akshat), it is used to welcome newly-weds… it is more than just food, and has socio-religious bearings as well. It talks of the origin and genesis of black rice, medicinal rice and its properties, red rice, aromatic rice and its mention in the works of Sushruta and Charaka. This forms the front part of the calendar, together with the photos and, of course, dates.
The back of the calendar is where the stock of the goodies lie for a food enthusiast. Actually, it makes sense for everyone who is fond of rice or eats rice. The recipes have been divided into black rice recipes, aromatic rice recipes, and so on. The recipes include payasam using karuppu kavuni,
kalabhat rice salad (recipe given), Manipur chak hao amubi rice burger (this is a novelty as the chak hao is used to make kheer traditionally); there are daily use recipes. A catalogue of 36 different varieties of rice is also given. The English calendar has details of rice from pan India. The regional one in Kannada, in the same format, has recipes and data on varieties of rice grown in Karnataka, while a similar one in Bengali is being prepared. The calendar costs ₹100 (including postal charges).
A favourite across cultures, rice contributes to 20% of the world’s calories.
The calendar reminds people of this treasure