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New Rice Ceremony
"Dtaan Khao Mai"

new rice THERE ARE many customs and traditions each lunar month performed by people in northern Thailand. These customs and traditions can be religious ceremonies, social functions, community development, citizens' unity and others.

The January cover of our printed magazine depicts farmers harvesting rice and a religious ceremony is certain to follow. In the third lunar month (Deuan Saam Peng in the north, or Deuan Ai/Nueng in central region), farmers harvest the rice crop within a short period of time. They do not employ extra labor to harvest but neighbors and friends willingly volunteer to help each other without expecting payment for their service.

While the harvesting is going on, a social function is taking place during work on the paddy rice collection. This entertainment is called "Dtee Khao" and the term means beating the rice grain off of the branch and also dusting off the grain. Once harvesting is over, the next traditional ceremony will be "Su Kwan Khao" or loading the husked rice up to the barn.

The following 4th lunar month, Deuan Zee Peng, there are more ceremonies. One of these is "Dtaan Khao Mai", a merit making activity using fresh milled sticky rice to be cooked and offered to Buddhist monks at the temple near the village. People believe that when offering their food to Buddha and also monks, Buddhism will stay in their hearts forever due to the monks' devotion to their duties. The farmers also hope that following Lord Buddha's philosophy would reward them with the good fortune of a bountiful crop in the following year. People also regard this merit-making ceremony would make their ancestors' soul feel happy due to the taste of the freshly milled rice.

A well known northern dish "Khao Nok Nga", is made of cooked sticky rice mixed in a big dish with ground black sesame seeds. "Khao Laam" is another kind of cooked sticky rice with or without sesame seeds. Both can be mixed together first and soaked with water, then add coconut cream and salt. The mixture sits over night. The next morning the wet uncooked sticky rice (and sesame) is filled inside one piece of prepared bamboo and burned in a strong flame on the ground for 1 hour.

Along with the cooked sticky rice, people also take other items for offering ceremony. Uncooked sticky rice would be kept and used by the monks whenever they lacked rice to eat. Husked rice may be donated to the monks in a temple who would collect the rice for some time and sell it for cash which can be used for the temple's upkeep and expenses.

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