The pleasure of being on the field was evident on the faces of Hartman Girls' High School students, as they sowed a rare variety of paddy and held sickles for the first time on Wednesday.
The occasion was a harvest festival and the venue was Tarumitra Ashram. Many of the 50-odd students suffered cuts and bruises as they made the ground ready for Sonapiya, the rare variety of paddy. But nobody complained as they spent around two hours on the field with unmatched enthusiasm under the Sun.
The students sang Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle from the movie, Upkar, throughout their activity. They also raised slogans like Zor lagake haiya. Some nuns of St Joseph's Convent Provincial House also joined them.
Anjali Kumari, a Class VIII student, said she would never forget the experience. "I was spellbound the moment I saw the matured paddy crops in the field. Soon, we were called on to the field to take part in harvesting. It was an amazing experience for me. I sweated it out but it was worth it because I enjoyed the process."
Her classmate Neha Sharma echoed the same. "The best thing was that we did the work together. All of us were given sickles to cut paddy. We collected paddy and kept it at one side of the field. I have read science, social science, mathematics but agriculture was a subject about which I knew nothing. Now I can proudly say that I know a bit about it," said a beaming Neha.
Margaret Molomoo, an official of Tarumitra, who assisted the pupils in the harvesting process, made them aware of the qualities of paddy.
"One of the qualities of Sonapiya is that it is disease-resistant. So people, who eat this rice, develop a sound immune system. Today, farmers are mostly growing hybrid paddy and these varieties are becoming extinct. Sonapiya rice belongs to Bihar but people here have stopped growing this variety. There are very few people who grow this variety of rice. We need to initiate programmes like this where people can be motivated to grow such paddy," said Margaret.
Tarumitra founder Father Robert Athickal said: "The programme was organised for two purposes. We wanted to make students familiar with the rare variety of paddy and we wanted to give them a first-hand experience on agriculture. The students were very excited to take part in the harvesting process."