Akshaya Tritiya: Why this date is all about the farmer, the real goldsmith

It is not just a day to buy gold; it is also the day of the beginning of a new agricultural cycle for farmers

By Richard Mahapatra, Vivek Mishra
Published: Tuesday 03 May 2022

Did you scan for offers at jewellers this year as well to buy gold on Akshaya Tritiya? If yes, no problem. But this Akshaya Tritiya let us take you to where ‘real’ gold is being wasted and its producer is on the verge of starvation.

It is said that food grain is the real gold and is produced by a goldsmith such as a farmer with his native wisdom, hard work, humility and patience. He appeals to the earth, sky, water, air and fire, which then give gold in the form of grain.

This is the gold that most of us buy and eat every day and throughout the year. Akshaya Tritiya is not a day for farmers across India to buy or sell gold for decoration. It is also not so for our older generations living in the villages.

Perhaps that is the reason why the importance of Akshaya Tritiya was linked to food even in mythology.

‘Akshay’ means one which never decays. There is a story in the Mahabharata about how Krishna gave Draupadi a vessel that would always have grain so that the Pandavas would never go hungry during their exile.

The Earth too is one such vessel that has been continuously giving us food. Unfortunately, we have destroyed its regenerative character with our greed. Akshaya Tritiya is a day associated with climate, food and the farmer.

A new cycle

Akshaya Tritiya is the day when the new cycle of Indian agriculture begins. It is the third day of the month of Vaisakh according to the Hindu calendar.

It is considered to be the last day of spring and the beginning of summer. The kharif crop is sown and harvested in the summer. Preparations for sowing start after Akshaya Tritiya ie from the month of May.

Akshaya Tritiya also marks the beginning of farmers counting the number of cultivable days and keeping a lookout for weather predictions.

You must be familiar with the panchang or traditional almanac. The Hindu New Year begins with the Pratipada of the Shukla Paksha of the month of Chaitra, according to the Panchang.

The day is celebrated as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra and Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. But there are a lot of other things that the Panchang tells us. 

Season dates

The dates of the Panchang not only tell us as to whether a day is auspicious or not. They also tell us as to when the weather will change and it will rain.

Forecasting the weather and writing down the dates for agriculture has been a very important task. The Panchang almanac has been used for the past thousands of years to predict rainfall by looking at the form and shape of clouds.

The type of rainfall that will occur throughout the year is also estimated through the almanac.

Of the nine types of clouds recorded in the Panchang, Neelam and Varunam are two that mean it will rain heavily. Similarly, clouds named Kalam and Pushkaram mean there will be light showers.

These forecasts have also been tested on modern criteria. In 2012, Sri Venkateswara University and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha at Tirupati published a research paper in the Indian Journal of Science and Technology.

The researchers conducted a comparative study between the predictions of the Panchang and real-time conditions between 1992 and 2004. The gist of the research was that the forecast of the dates of rainfall in the almanac turned out to be 63.3 per cent correct.

New trends

People now increasingly buy gold on Akshaya Tritiya. But, the instances of the real goldsmiths, the farmers, dying by suicide are also on the rise given that their pockets are completely empty.

About 5,000 farmers die by suicide in different parts of India every year. Each farmer’s family has a debt of at least Rs 47,000.

If there is no drought in the farmer’s fields, there will definitely be a flood. It may be that heavy rains will destroy his crop. If all this does not happen and there is a bumper yield, the government will bring a flood of imported grains into the market.

This will leave no value for the farmers’ crops. They would have to helplessly dump them on the streets. In the meantime, we wait for a discount on the purchase of gold to please the goddess of prosperity in the cities.

Unique weather forecast

The quest to explore dates for farming and favourable weather has been old and unique. The Bhil tribe celebrates the festival of Gaay Gauri just a day after Diwali. This festival is also associated with weather forecasting.

Cows of various colours are made to race towards the temple. If a white-coloured cow reaches the temple door first, it is assumed that the monsoon will be better next year.

If a brown cow reaches first, there will be average rainfall. At the same time, if a black cow reaches the temple first, there will be drought. Different methods were thus devised to predict weather across the country.

The Gujarat Agricultural University once conducted a survey among 200 farmers in the Saurashtra region. It was found that the rainfall trends that these farmers assessed between 1990 and 2003 on the basis of traditional knowledge were largely correct.

The indicators used by the farmers in weather forecasting included rainbows, the image of the sun and the moon, the dew, etc.

The farmers had assessed 195 days between October and April. For instance, Holi is celebrated in March. The assessment of farmers at this time was based on the changes in the direction of the wind before and after Holi.

They believed that if the wind blew towards the south-west, there would be a drought. If the wind blew from the west, there would be good rainfall. Many indicators and experiences were found to be correct about such weather.

Paddy wealth

The experiential weather predictions of Ghagh and Bhaddari in the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh are also a major part of farming. One such saying about the importance of agriculture on Akshaya Tritiya goes like this:

Akhai teej rohini nahi hoi

Paush amavasya mul na hoi

Mahi mahin khal balhin prakasai

Kahat bhaddari sali binsai

The brief meaning of this adage is that if the Rohini nakshatra does not fall on Akshaya Tritiya, there will be no production of paddy during that year.

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