Agriculture World

Deepawali And Its linkage with Agriculture

Abhijeet Banerjee
Abhijeet Banerjee

Deepawali is one of the most important festival of India which is also known as the festival of lights. This is a five-day festival of joy, splendour, brightness and happiness and is celebrated with great enthusiasm by Indians across the globe. This festival is distinct in its harmony of five varied philosophies, with each day connected to a special thought or ideal. Since people celebrate each of its five days of festivities with true understanding, it influences enriching thoughts and lives of the people.

Diwali celebrates Lord Rama’s triumphant return from Sri Lanka to his capital of Ayodhya after eliminating the demon i.e. the Ravana. Moreover, it is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. Homes are decorated with rows of lights  while most of the families  are  together   for   five days  for celebration. Deepawali is considered very auspicious and people involved in business and trading to start their new fiscal year from this day. The Goddess of Lakshmi is worshiped on this eve and people perform Arti. The womenfolk in the western states are engaged in preparing special dishes are like Poha, Pava, sweets and desserts (like “Kheer).

This   festival   is   also  associated  with   the  Agriculture   related  aspect   in   a significant way. Diwali   is also a celebration of the abundant rice crop that  is almost ready to be harvested. Diwali normally falls around the months of October or November, which is also known as the season of Kharif when the crop of fresh rice is widely available in the fields. Similarly Diwali occasion also contributes  in  insect control as the timing for this  festival  becomes all   the more important as it generally coincides with rise in insect population, especially in the month of shravan. People gather in numbers in the temple carry fire torches or “Mashal”. These flames are effective in destroying large numbers of insects.

Conch (Shankh) Blowing a conch (shell) emits a sharp note like that of a trumpet and during this period, the paddy bug sucks paddy at milk stage generally. It has been observed that blowing of the Conch is effective in controlling these pests to a large extent in some states. American researchers also agree that this biologic control is one of the best practice for crops like paddy.

The population of insects increases during the final season of cultivation which coincides with the Deepawali  mostly.  The number   intensifies  towards Kartika Amabasya  that   it  often hampers day to day life activities. “Mashal, Dihuri, Deepa” and Lantern are used during this time to attract insects and kill them. In fact in historic period also, farmers used fire and established light traps, after observing that many insects pests were attracted to light. They started controlling insect population then. Bonfires were lit to attract rice bugs and moths which then died then in the flames. This practice is seen in Odisha state to a large extent. Years ago light traps were often used in the country in order to control army borers, armyworms, leaf hoppers, seed bugs, mole crickets,  leaf folders, plant hoppers, root weevils, caseworms and caterpillars.

According   to   researchers “Neem” and Light (Mashal,   Dihuri)   traps   were  the most  preferred techniques used by Odisha farmers in past. Farmers used light traps to eliminate the nocturnal flying insects.   In  organic  agriculture, insect   light   trap   is  one  of   the  very  effective   tools  of   insect  pest management in organic agriculture. “Kem” is a ritual in Sri Lanka which is meant to attract and foster birds, that are the main biological agent in traditional agriculture. This ritual involves offering to local deities in the evenings, before commencement of cultivation, and consists of a standard mixture of roasted pulse, food, flowers and many lighted oil lamps. While lamps attract insects, food and pulse attracts birds. That's how the insects are then killed before the cultivation.

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