Vee Bissa is one of the greater inventions of ancient farmers. It was used to store paddy for both consumption and for cultivation. Depending on the type and quality of paddy, different types of Vee Bissas were set up, such as the Ma Vee Bissa, Vadimal Vee Bissa and Bala Vee Bissa. Among the other types of paddy storages, Piduru Bissa, Waruva, Veniya and Pesa were popular with the ancient and traditional farmers.
The social significance of the Vee Bissa
The Vee Bissa was held with high regard in ancient society as it was a clear indication of a person’s wealth and influence. The number of Vee Bissas owned by a person was taken into consideration in marriage proposals as well.
The technology of the Vee Bissa
Many rituals are followed when setting up a Vee Bissa. It was set up at the entrance of the house away from the backyard and lavatories, avoiding places with high humidity or constant water seepage. A well-lit and dry place is the ideal location for setting up a Vee Bissa.
The materials needed to set up a Vee Bissa were collected from their surroundings and the immediate jungle. Every step in the process of setting up a Vee Bissa assured the preservation of the quality of paddy seeds.
The Vee Bissa is supported by four columns made of stone or wood. The base is lifted a few meters above the ground to avoid any contact with soil and water that may affect the paddy. The body of the Vee Bissa is made from a special type of clay derived from anthills. Once these layers of clay dry up, cow dung is then coated along the inside of the Vee Bissa to prevent insects from feeding on the paddy. Red anthill clay was commonly used due to its sticky nature and high porosity. This clay dries up faster when compared with other clay types and does not cause cracks. The dry clay does not absorb water readily. The stored paddy receives ventilation through the tiny pores present in the clay and the oval shape facilitates uniform ventilation throughout the Vee Bissa. The Vee Bissa is covered with a Piyassa which protects the seeds by preventing water from entering into it while also providing shade to the Vee Bissa. This prevents the paddy from being affected by fungi.
Ancient farmers would use leaves from trees such as Kaduru Gediya, Nika, Kukuru Mana, Kalaval and lime to keep away insects, thereby acting as an organic pest control.
A layer of Margosa leaves would be spread out over the top layer of paddy once the Vee Bissa is filled up to protect it from harmful insects.
Aside from storing paddy for consumption, farmers also stored them for cultivation purposes. The germination power of paddy seeds are well protected in a Vee Bissa.
The importance of the Vee Bissa
At present, farmers are faced with many problems concerning the storage of paddy. These problems were never encountered by ancient and traditional farmers as the Vee Bissa allowed them to store paddy for extended periods without it getting spoilt.There is no equipment or technology today that can match up to the Vee Bissa in terms of being able to preserve the germination power of paddy. Today’s farmers use paddy storage compartments made of cement when storing paddy, however it is doubtful if they are capable of protecting the germination power as efficiently as a Vee Bissa.