It is that time of year again–painting walls ruined by water seepage, or the dreaded सीलन.
The painters are from Bihar, they say, from सीतामढ़ी, Mithila, Sita’s birthplace.
What do you grow there, I ask, wheat and rice, they say, so naturally I have to ask them about their festivities related to छठ पूजा (with memories of learning about wild rice-related traditions in Raipur). Yes, we have a special variety of rice used on that day. Does it have long awns? I ask excitedly, and show them a picture.
No no, it’s called गमरी, it’s a kind that does not come out.
What? I don’t get it, but a bit of searching later, I find that it is a Nepali terai variety, in which “the panicle remains enclosed in the flag leaf sheath.” Another kind of “wild rice” whose property helps it to escape infestation of the rice bug.