Soil - Digging Deeper

If one were to map the grains of India on a plate, what would result is a colourful array of lentils, cereals, seeds, millets and more. We owe this rich diversity to the various types of soil – in their colour, texture, mineral composition, smell even. The red hilly soil rich in laterite, black soil from volcanic rock across the Deccan regions, loamy soil abundant in organic matter are but a few of the land’s fertile soil varieties. What makes this soil yield a nutritious and delicious harvest every year is its special connection with the humans and beasts that depend on it. One can illustrate many microinteractions – cattle providing their dung for the fertility of the soil which in turn soothes their skin from insect bites and heat. Farmers loosening the soil’s hard crust after a scorching summer allowing it to breathe and the soil rewarding them with a good harvest. In Kudej’s ecosystem, soil is the common ground that connects and supports all stakeholders. Thus, the brown colour in the logo represents the soil and our goal to stay connected with our roots.

While considered abiotic, soil is so rich in microorganisms, seeds and roots that it is hard to distinguish where life ends and begins. Consider a hill – which seems like a landmass but is in fact an massive network of roots and rivers intertwined through the soil. Understanding these relationships can help us see environmental changes more clearly. For instance, the rampant deforestation of ancient trees in the Himalayas rid the soil of their foundation leading to devastating landslides and loss of human and wildlife. Or how unchecked use of pesticides can kill earthworms whose labour tills the soil, free of cost to the farm. To build a lasting relationship with the soil, we can learn from the potter, who gently shapes the earth without asserting too much control.

Many Indian traditions, rituals and festivals celebrate the fertility of soil. It also plays a role in crafts such as pottery, architecture, mud painting and resist-dyeing. In India, pehelwans (wrestlers) coat themselves with soil before a bout, and touch the soil to their foreheads as do classical dancers, travellers and anyone whose identity and emotions are linked deeply with soil. In its larger sense, “staying connected to your soil” is a way to live authentically, eating locally and following traditional practices that promote health.

We hope you stay tuned with Kudej as we continue to dig deeper for the many meanings that soil holds in our culture and for a deeper understanding of the very earth on which we stand.

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