Saturday, 6 March 2021

Making of a Hemmudi.

 A couple of years back, I had visited Lalita’s mothers home – Lalita is my help who works on the farm as well as helps me in the house work.  In the front yard of their home I had noticed a beautiful structure made of hay.

 Intrigued, I had asked about it and they had explained that it was made by her brother Nagraj to store their harvest of rice paddy in it.  It is a traditional form of storing paddy and very few people make it now a days.  It seemed to be dying art.  I was keen on seeing how it is made and I asked her to inform me the next time her brother would make it.  ‘Oh it is made only once a year’ she said. ‘Doesn’t matter, let me know next year’ I told her.  

But as luck would have it, in spite of her informing me, we were unable to go and 3 years passed before we got a chance to see it actually being made.

So this year when Lalita informed me  that her brother was planning to make the Hemmudi a few days later, we decided to keep that day free.  He was to start at 2 pm after lunch, so we planned accordingly and went to their home.

Their front yard was spruced up and made spotlessly clean and a fresh layer of cowdung had been smeared on it.  Cow dung is a natural anti-microbial and has insect repelling properties – so is it any wonder that the traditional method of  layering the front yard with cowdung instead of cement  is still so popular in the villages? 

A spot was chosen and Nagaraj’s mother drew a Rangoli design with quick strokes.  Then bunches of hay were laid out systematically with the cut ends in the centre and the other end fanning out to make a large circle.  Once the first circle was complete, a second concentric, slightly smaller one was made on top of it and then another until innermost circle completely covered the ground. 

 All along Lalita’s young kids aged 8 and 11 scurried around bringing  bunches of hay from the stack that was a little distance away.  Soon the enormous circle of hay was ready.  A large plastic sheet was placed  in the centre to prevent grains from slipping thru the hay and also to prevent any moisture from seeping in, in case of any unseasonal rain.  Then Nagaraj lifted a large basket into which some paddy had been poured from  one of the sacks of rice lined up against the wall of the house.  He said a prayer and then emptied the first lot of paddy onto the sheet. 

His college going nephew joined in along with a neighbour to help lift the sacks and bring them to Nagaraj. He would tip each one and  flatten the mound  carefully within the circle.  After a sizeable mound was created, then the sides had to be raised.  The hay was bent upwards and a thick rope was wound around the base of the Hemmudi.  

Now the whole thing looked like a large grass tub filled with paddy.  Now the next layer of the Hemmudi wall had to be built.  The kids pitched in carrying the hay to Nagaraj who carefully placed each bunch vertically supported on the outside by the ring of hay and on the inside by the paddy.

  The ring was completed, secured with ropes and then the piling in of the paddy resumed.  So layer by layer, the Hemmudi was constructed, finally holding close to 30 quintals of paddy. 

 As the last circle of hay was being placed, Lalita’s nephew expertly  prepared a metal ring with ropes hanging around the sides, that was to go on top of the Hemmudi to secure the top in place. 

The 2 kids ran around busily bringing the hay bunches and passing them to Nagaraj who was on the top of the Hemmudi which was now almost 9 feet in height.  He covered the top with a generous layer of hay, then a plastic sheet was placed on top, followed by the ring.  The ropes hanging from the ring were securely fastened down to the sides of the Hemmudi.

  In the meantime, the youngsters had fetched some clayey mud and were busy mixing it with water to make a thick paste.  This was piled around the base and plastered into place with their hands to make a perfect seal.  

The ladies busied themselves cleaning out the remnants of the fallen hay, folding the emptied sacks neatly and sprucing up the place  and bringing in bunches of mango leaves and flowers for the Pooja. 


The Hemmudi is now finally completed, decorated with flowers and leaves.  Nagaraj’s mother brings out a platter with an oil lamp, flowers. Coconut and agarbattis.  He performs a small Pooja of the Hemmudi and then it is time for them to relax.  A feast of Chicken curry and rice has been prepared by the mother and they all troop into the house for an early dinner.  They insist on us joining them too, but it is just 6.30 pm, a bit too early for us.  So they pack  some for us to take home.  We leave for home,  happy to have been able to see the making of the Hemmudi.

And Vivek had clicked a whole bunch of videos and compiled this, click to see the video.




  1. I had never heard of Hemmudis though I had seen some at native place. As intricate and protective as it seems it is a very natural form of storage without any ill effects of pesticides and chemicals for preserving grains. Your description was as interesting as its making. Thank you for sharing and increasing my perception of farm facts.

  2. Superb! New to know

  3. Beautiful! Did you do a video documentation of it?

  4. Wow, brilliant style of writing! Coupled with the pics, it was really a case of visual storytelling! Keep it up!

  5. Wow! Excellent! Thanks for sharing.

  6. It was amazing.We came to know about this traditional way of storing grains.It was presented very well for us to understand.Nice to know something new today.Thanks for sharing it.God Bless .Regards



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