Rice Goddesses - Earth Mothers who Influenced Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld

Rice Goddesses - Earth Mothers who Influenced Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld

For centuries, rice has been a staple diet and plays an important role in Asian culture. Although rice farmers have found their lives becoming more difficult due to climate change, Bloomberg states in 2016 that 16 million people still farm rice in Thailand alone. Commemorating the beginning of the rice growing season with an annual Royal Plowing Ceremony in the month of May is an ancient tradition for countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, among others. Some of the duties of the Emperor of Japan as chief Shinto priest is the ritual planting of the first rice seeds on the grounds of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, as well as performing the first harvest ritual.

Rice is a very important food for much of the world (Public Domain)

Of course, rice would have powerful deities to guard it! Among them are Cambodia’s Po Ino Nogar, the polyandrous goddess who is also associated with the sky, clouds and water. Indonesia’s goddess Dewi Sri is associated with rice and the moon, also believed to have dominion over the underworld, domain of the serpent or naga (dragon) race - the very same race that is, according to legends, the progenitors of the Khmers (an ethnic group native to Cambodia).


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