Ha:sañ Bak signals the beginning of the rainmaking
ceremony. Ha:sañ is the O'odham word for saguaro
cactus. Ha:sañ Bak means "the saguaro is ready."
Before harvesting the first fruits, Tohono O'odham bless
themselves with the saguaro fruit (taken from a fallen fruit). The
fruit is rubbed on the body near the heart. The fruit picker asks
for a clear mind and a good heart before going out into the desert.
The saguaro fruits are called bahidaj. When ripe, the fruit
opens to expose the sweet red meat and hundreds of tiny black seeds.
Harvesters knock or pull the fruits off the tops of the tall saguaros.
The Tohono O'odham place the first fruit picked on the ground
with the red side facing the sun once the red meat of the bahidaj
is removed. This signifies that the sun will draw up the moisture
from the fruit into the sky, to make the clouds and the rain.
(The words in italics on these pages are in the
O'odham language. I was unable to indicate some of the diacritical
marks such as the dot under the s in Ha:sañ and segai.)
The saguaro fruit has red meat and the tiny black