When I walked out of my house this morning, I noticed little sheaves of grain neatly tied up and carefully laid out by the barn. I assumed there must be some festival coming up that I hadn’t heard about—there are so many here! However, as I was walking on the road some distance away, I saw similar sheaves of grain neatly laid out on the bridge and I realized what they were for…this is a local technique for threshing grain!

The "threshing machine' in action! Photo: JD Viharini

The “threshing machine’ in action!

The grain was only laid out on the bridge, presumably because the roads are all pretty muddy at the edges. That’s no surprise as it has rained almost every day for the past 10 or 12 days. This area has certainly not been suffering from the heat wave that has afflicted most of India.

Road threshing fairly common with rice in South India, but I had never seen it in the North. Actually, I’ve only seen it in this one place here, so maybe it’s an experiment being done on the recommendation of a visiting South Indian.

Cars, trucks, donkeys, people…everything and everyone that goes over it contributes to the process of separating the chaff from the grain. At the end of the day, the grain is swept up and separated from the dirt using a winnowing basket.

Threshing grain is certainly a lot of work, but I confess that I’m not feeling so enthusiastic about grain that is threshed like this. It seems like it would be adding rather a lot of pollutants of one sort or another, doesn’t it? Anyway, it does inspire me to make extra sure I wash any grains really, really well before cooking.

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