The culture of rice: customs and rituals

As one of the most ancestral cereals on Earth rice was revered by all who tasted it until it became a way of thinking; a culture in itself and in a thousand year old tradition.

Rice has crossed all borders possible and even penetrated into the languages with its own logic. In traditional Chinese, "rice" and "agriculture" are defined as the same word. The words "rice" and "food" are sometimes the same. Instead of saying, "How are you'" as a greeting the Chinese ask, "Have you eaten rice today'". And another Chinese expression says "he/she broke the rice bowl," when someone is fired or rejected for a job. From their point of view, the Japanese, even today, refer to the grain as their "mother" and regard rice farmers as guardians of their culture and the countryside.


Due to the significance of rice, certain customs and rituals derived from the relationship between people and this food still continue to be followed. The proof is in is its role at weddings. All over the world, people continue to throw rice at the newlyweds as a symbol of abundance and fertility. In China, young women are warned that "every grain of rice on the plate that they leave on a plate will be an acne scar on the face of their future husbands." In Japan, where rice fields are given names of people, they believe that soaking rice before cooking releases the life energy and grants the diner a more powerful soul. The emperor celebrates a ceremony that gives rice to Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, symbolizing the salvation of mankind. And still, in India, rice is the first food that a bride offers her husband. A proverb says that "the grains of rice should be like two brothers: close but not united." And in Indonesia, no woman is ready for marriage if she doesn't know how cook rice well.

It is worth highlighting rice in rural native ceremonies to ask the gods for a good harvest. In the Celebes Islands, the "Day of Sacrifice for the Harvest" three girls, on returning home at dusk, walk hitting the ground with tubes filled with rice seed and singing 'Strike, oh friends, as we contemplate, contemplate the humble, humble soft rice. " Rice plays a pivotal role as an instrument in the rhythms that accompany these practices. In western Malaysia and Thailand, to dehusk the fresh rice, holes are made in a wooden trunk lying on the ground, into which rice is poured and is pounded with apples by a row of women.

Rice is also a magic ingredient. In some cultures, it is used for divination. In 2005, a religious leader in the Chiriku Hachimangu shrine on the island of Kyushu (Japan) predicted (on 15 February of that year), by interpreting a stew of rice, "This year was a good stew. However I saw an unusual crack" and then he announced to the people, 'You must be prepared for earthquakes'. On Sunday, March 20th 2005 there was an earthquake of magnitude seven on the Richter scale on the island. It was the strongest registered there since 1997. Naturally rice itself is amazing and it is even more so as a cultural ingredient.