It is surmised that India's relationship with rice is around 10,000 years old, a result of this long history is a culture that has a well developed belief system surrounding the crop. A Hindu deity, Dewi Sri is the rice goddess often touted as being the guardian angel of southeast Asia.
In Bali she is referred to as "the rice mother" and is revered as being the goddess of fertility and life. In this culture she is not just female, but male as well, encompassing all aspects of life. She is the best loved deity and is honored not only in elaborate temple ceremonies but also in small daily rituals like putting pinches of rice around fields to keep evil spirits from the crops. Temples erected in her honor are simple structures of virgin bamboo and are largely found in the rice fields themselves. It is not uncommon for each village to have as many as three temples in her honor.
Her renowned beauty has led to a large number of beauty products in Java, India and Bali with pulverized rice mixed with jasmine as the primary ingredient. Spas and products carry her name for good luck, as well as for clever marketing strategy in a culture that holds the goddess and the crop in such high esteem.
First Fruits Ritual
Just before harvest rice stalks are cut from the upstream portion of the rice field, which is considered sacred, and formed into little dolls representing both Dewi Sri and her partner, Sadano. Placing the dolls in the rice granary or the home and presenting offerings to the goddess through the dolls ensures a bountiful harvest.
Rice, Rice Lore and the Rice Goddess Dewi Sri, http://www.natashascafe.com/html/rice.html
The Asia Rice Foundation, http://www.asiarice.org/sections/riceheritage/indonesia.html
Women of Rice, http://www.riceworld.org/special/women/html/wmnindon.html