“I have no words to express how I am feeling right now. It is just like coming back to my mother and moving into the tender hug!” my grandfather said with utter excitement and nostalgia! I, my father and my grandfather gazed at the plowed upfield with contentment! We had taken a decision of bringing our old ancestral land into cultivation after nearly 60 years.
Much of the land of our village is in the patches of rocky grasslands and the rest is either a forest or a tropical plantation. However, there are certain patches of good soil on grasslands where one can carry out farming activities. In the old times, there were many such paddy fields. Farming used to be rewarding enough to feed all the family members as all of them used to contribute. The farming activity in our village always begins with a festive spirit! All the farmers celebrate it in the wake of monsoon by feasting on Mutton Rassa with rice or bhakri. Generally, the event is organized on the first day of Mruga Nakshatra. (Nakshatra is a constellation or certain pattern of stars causing certain conditions). There is also a cottage called Mruga in the farmstay as all the cottages are named after rainy season constellations. The whole event of this feast is called ‘Mirag’.We thought of celebrating our traditional ‘Mirag’ to rekindle those old beautiful memories of my grandfather. We organized a small picnic for all the fellow workers right in our field. Everyone was eager and enthusiastic as it was our new start. We cooked right next to the farm beautifully surrounded by a forest. The cooking started with a decent preparation such as making a small chulha out of laterite rock and preparing a small shade of coconut leaves to cover it. The heavens showered rains thus giving an blissful experience!
After a long wait, the food was ready. The curry cooked on wood fire was looking delicious. The reddish dark colour of the rassa seemed inviting. We grabbed a few ‘chandiwada’ tree leaves from the wild and used it as a plate. My grandfather says that these leaves were in great use in his childhood to wrap onion pakodas and to parcel other snacks! Even, wild boars used to be paraded in the entire village after hunting and the meat used to be wrapped in chandiwada leaves to distribute it among all the villagers. Any food item wrapped in these leaves tastes awesome! The meal triggered a few pleasant nostalgic conversations with each morsel. It was truly a divine experience to celebrate a meal with Panchatatwas (water, air, fire, earth, and sky) which is the real driving force of life. The reason why ‘Maachli is called experiential comes from this feeling of subtle connection.
The next day, our farming activity started with great enthusiasm. Each day unfolded beautiful moments. The guests at Maachli willingly visited the place to experience farming. Its less about working in the fields but more about a feeling of being the son of the soil.