Art Hideaways holiday at Kintamani, Bali Nov 2012
- Rice Goddess
No Balinese deity is more loved and worshipped than Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice, agriculture and fertility. To the Balinese people she represents all that is good and beautiful and she is associated with success. Rice itself is treated with reverence and respect, since people have depended on it, body and soul, for centuries. Rice culture has developed into an elaborate cult, there are many ritual acts to make the rice grow strong and healthy, to ensure that water shall not be lacking, to prevent the loss of seed by theft, birds and mice.
From planting time to harvest the growth of rice is watched carefully. The Balinese are famed as the most efficient rice- growers in the archipelago, they raise two fine crops a year with such success that they have more than enough for needs of the population and export over 100,000 tons of rice a year !
On Bali rice-growing is both an art and a science. It is one of the few places on Earth made visually stunning by its main economic activity. The cascading terraces of rice fields are the most striking feature of the landscape, claiming some slopes that look too formidable to be of any possible use. Any available land that it is humanly possible to bring water to, even of mountain height, is made use of. The receding man-made terraces, like sweeping flights of stairs, cover hillsides and plains and when filled with water, resemble mirrors reflecting the blue sky and clouds.
The rugged, mountainous nature of the island, furrowed by deep ravines, makes irrigation extremely difficult. Water is led from the mountains to various levels of cultivated land by an elaborate system of canals, dams, bamboo pipes and long tunnels cut trough solid rock, sometimes two or three kilometers long ! This allows the rice fields (Sawah) to be flooded or drained at will and is a complex irrigation system that is continuously maintained, having been developed over many centuries.