The rice has sprouted and grown tall in the seed beds and now it is time to uproot it whole and transplant it onto the paddy fields that have been carefully prepared.
This is one of the most arduous tasks of growing rice as the workers have to work in calf deep muddy water , as they carefully remove and transplant every rice plant by hand.
In many places this work is done exclusively by women, who work bent double for hours, as they stick the rice plants in neat rows into the soft mud of the paddy fields, that have been ploughed over and over into a doughy smoothness.
Snake bites and water borne diseases like Leptospirosis (rice field worker’s disease) are common in the rice paddies and yet there is a feeling of joyous anticipation as the workers sing their way along the rows, thankful for the monsoon rains that have flooded the fields and praying for further showers so that the rice will grow tall and give a bountiful harvest.
Little, if any, protective gear is used by the average field labourer . As it was a sunny day, you can see the plastic sheet lined, woven body covers laid aside at the edge of the field (upper right). The tough plastic slippers have been carefully put aside before climbing down barefoot into the mud. Typically, the workers will wash themselves well after their days work is ended and go home in clean footwear.