It's been rather a while since I last blogged- in fact, I got out of the habit when we moved over to the new site (where everything except the blogging tools is much better! However, we're now entering "Planters Month", where we celebrate an in-world festival with the denizens of Ulaya! The monsoons have ended, the hard work of planting is complete, and now Ulayans rebuild after the storms and floods, search for treasures in the churned up fields, and go hunting for dinosaur eggs for domestication, and dinosaur meat for the many feasts which punctuate the Planters Season!
Planters Month in our world will be all about special deals, a few custom (and themed) scenarios, a competition or two... and a few exciting announcements. I shall be blogging weekly to keep you up to date, but for now, lets settle down and hear a more detailed description of Planters Festival, and what it means for Ulayans everywhere:
Planters Festival: a Month of Pan-Ulayan Celebration
Monsoon season is a hard time in Ulaya. Many parts are ravaged by tropical storms, flooding is widespread, and travel is especially dangerous. Sensible folk hunker down at home, and survive the bad weather as best they can, relying on their food reserves while they wait for Monsoon crops to grow.
Towards the end of the Monsoon, as rains die down and the storms have blown over, it is time to rebuild! Paddy fields need to be redefined, terracing needs to be repaired. Storm damage to roads, homes and agricultural buildings will require attention, and new crops need to be planted. This exiting time of plenty is marked by Planters Festival, a season of celebrations, traditions, games and ceremonies. It is a time for children, a time to thank nature for its bounty, a time to rebuild better than before, and a time to hunt!
The Planters Season most famous characters are the legendary Wise Merchants: Father Coraline and Mother Avante are joined by the mischevous Master Forallo; A family of three wanderers, who are said to roam from community to community, offering assistance, knowledge and fun!
Father Coraline embodies strength, hard work, agriculture and building. He is a father to all, offering encouragement and labour where it is needed, and showing by example, what it means to be a builder, farmer, and producer of well made things. His symbols are the Water Scoop (a spade for digging in wet ground), the sickle, and the roof.
Mother Avante is a hunter, a dino whisperer, mother and daughter of the Jungle, who’s role is to help in the training of domesticated animals, hunt for wild game to feed the community, and to clear out dangerous predators from the community locale. She provides hunting tools and weapons, harnesses, and teaches the best methods for the training and domestication of young dinosaurs. Her symbols are the raptor claw, the bow and the yoke.
Master Forallo is a chaotic figure of fun and games, but with a very serious purpose. His is the domain of science and research, of new and old knowledge, and of finding and trading important artefacts. While the other Wise Merchants are unambiguously helpful, Forallo is a lover of trickery and surprises. His help is not always as useful as it seems, and often his inventions and treasures go wrong, or do something altogether unexpected, and sometimes undesired! Forallo is usually depicted with a sack of treasures, and holding aloft a mysterious orb-like artefact, the purpose of which can only be guessed at…
And so during Planters Festival, members of each community often dress up as the Wise Merchants to delight children, and to carry out a number of important, but light hearted ceremonies, such as the planting of the first crops and the strength contests of Father Coraline; the Steggo Roast and Archery contests of Mother Avante; or the solemn circle of protection, and the joyous treasure hunts of Master Forallo. In more developed areas of Ulaya, travelling players impersonate the Wise Merchants, often acting as Merchants themselves, bringing goods and information, and thus serving much the same purpose as the legendary figures themselves. The quality of these goods, and the help provided, can vary hugely, and many times adults view these wandering actors as little more than thieves and rogues, hiding behind a friendly myth to ply their dishonest trades.
Nevertheless it is a time of fun, but hard work; a time of joy, but reflection; and a time of celebration, but also a time to remember what is truly important in a difficult world full of danger and hardships.
But for now, children gather around the glow-lamps and huddle under shelters to listen to tales of the Wise Merchants…