When we talk about the harvest, we naturally think of abundance. For Asians, the abundance come in forms of rice and sometimes fruits and vegetables.
In Borneo, the abundance of rice harvest is slowly but surely decreasing as more farmers opt for better paying cash crops especially oil palm. Furthermore, many younger generations with decent education would normally migrate to cities in search for office jobs. Even those with below average education prefer working at construction sites or factories.
As we reflect on the events related to harvest, we immediately remember harvest festivals; Gawai, Kaamatan and Panen. Much of the merrymaking still remains but the weight of the attention draws further from what it is supposed to be. The rice harvest.
What is hasvest festival without the harvest?
At this juncture where modernization and religion grabs a hold of the civilization, it is easy to lose sight of our roots. It has become almost forgivable that we need not teach our young the real meaning of the celebration.
But all is not lost. Because the churches are now paying tribute to the harvest during thanksgiving sessions after church services. Even pongal experiences a revival among the christians as the church supports the celebration of this Indian harvest festival.
As for me, I am happy to report that people are upbeat about the idea of rice wine as the spirit of the harvest. Gone are the days when Tuak is seen as the cheap brew to get high and drunk silly. People like the idea of taking tuak to another level, where it has a chance to be on par with French wines and Japanese sake.
It's time we pay tribute to the art of rice cultivation. More needs to be done to raise the appreciation towards noble rice farmers. They need all the help they can get to achieve good yields and a bountiful harvest. The more people come together to support the movement, the sooner we can get things moving.
It's time to promote our own rice culture and get the masses to celebrate the essence of rice and the embodied spirits, in every sense of the word.