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Gone with the Wind

Winnowing, Coorg -

How does one tell the men from the boys? The good from the bad? The villains from the heroes? Simple! A Coorg paddy farmer would tell you to just get them all together, and give them a good thrashing (or ‘threshing’ as the politically correct term goes). This will cause the straw to stalk off, leaving behind the golden grain. But since there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing even among the threshed grain, we need a special method to outwit them. Steeped in antiquity, the act of Winnowing is how the paddy farmers of the world have always separated the grain from the chaff. By throwing up the granular evidence to the skies, and letting the wind gods be judge, jury, and executioner. This process of allowing the wind to blow away the lighter chaff is an art that has evolved to its current level of simplicity over millennia, and has been a part of the warp and weft of the Coorg landscape. But, not for long. It goes against the grain for the romantics amongst us to admit, but the winds of change are already sweeping across the hills, and with technological advances in winnowing, we don’t know how long the manual process will be around. We’d like to think it’d be forever, but signs are that pastoral scenes like we see in the photo above will soon be gone. With the wind!

Photograph: Shivu K Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy



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