The season that I love best,
I really do not know . Julian Barnes says in Flaubert’s Parrot “When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.” “
As a dancer for me movements of nature are very inspiring, and the monsoon that imprisons me within the walls of my house teaches, the movement of nature. From the swaying trees, this changes it s tempo and rhythm with each. The heavy rains begins to shower, from the fiery grishma varsha begins to freezes.
The need to create the fire within emerges, this is the power of varsha, and the thunder begins with the rhythms, which reminds me of the chande that we use in Kathakali, mohini attam or yakshagana. The swaying trees that inspired the creation of Mohini who resides in every dancer as Mohiniattam. The dazzling lightening. The soul begins to dance.
The first event to break the monotony of the rains is the Krishna ashtami, when the early performances begin. The tales of Krishna are told and then comes the beginning of the new season that is Ganesh chaturti which ends with only vasanta panchami in January.
Grishma, the heat has had its pinnacle soaring pinnacle, when the mind refuses to work. I kind of lethargy. Creatively this period is of nervous energy yet non productive. Inner sounds are too tired to create music. The heat tires any physical activity. Sanguinity is the only possible reaction to life and living.
Then come the early monsoon showers, or the pre-monsoon showers, the heat, and rain combating for mother natures’ attention. To give way to varsha, the rains,
Thunder, lightening, showers cools body mind and soul. It appears as if the early tiredness created by the body is now recuperating. Ready to take on newer horizons
Yet how can I overlook spring?
When winsome westerly winds
caress comely creeping cloves
As bumblebees’ buzz-buzzing and cuckoos’ coo-cooing
resound in huts, in coves, in groves,
In springtime, the sensual season so languorously
long for forlorn lovers,
Krishna strays and plays, my friend,
dancing with young girls.
The poem by the Sanskrit poet Jayadeva, describes Krishna in spring. Spring the king of all seasons, the companion of the God of Love.
Between 20th of March and 22nd of March is the Vernal equinox the official first day of spring. Spring is the nature’s way of saying “lets party!”
Spring represents renewal, rebirth, and regrowth, in India Vasantotsav is a much enjoyed festival with colours and frolic. Temperatures between 25-30 degrees. It is winter in the shade and summer in the sunshine. A season of kites and marriages.
Like Virgil.A.Kraft noted “spring shows what god can do with a drab dirty world.”
And summer? The summer sounds
actually one does not really pay much attention to it. Its only when the poets highlight it that we notice it.
to the kids it means no more pencils no more books, no more teachers dirty looks. To mothers it means no lunch boxes to pack, to Indian grandparents it means grandkids home.
To mother nature—sings a different song, there is an unreal element here like a mirage, the heat saps the enmity between predators, you don’t need wealth to cool your life-like the famous Indian poet Bhana says, the season allows it by itself by sending the breeze through the sweat which is coolant.
The Indian summer is legendary, the cracking of dawn is with the chirping of migratory birds, and then come the crackling parrots, on tree tops, these slowly leave the stage for droning bees that come to the jasmine flowers as they are at the peak of their fragrance. As the day moves on it’s a mirage of peace and harmony between predators created by the lethargy of the summer heat.
The paradoxical winter warmth…
Winter or Hemanta as we call it Sanskrit is a favourite of mine. The description of this is done by a Sanskrit poet as follows:
गजपतिद्वयसीरपि हैमन्तस्तुहिनयत्सरितः पृषतां पतिः।
Gaja-pati-dvayasīr api haimantas tuhinayat caritas pṛṣatāṃ patiḥ |
Salila-saṃtatim adhvaga-yoṣitām atanuta atanu-tāpa-kṛtaṃ dṛśām ||
The winter wind, lord of water drops, freezing even rivers deep as the mightiest of elephants is tall, produces a stream of hot, painful tears from the eyes of women whose husbands are away.
I love winter when the landscape weaves its magic. It is like a mystery waiting to be unveiled. The story has its nebulous secret. There is there solitude, there is loneliness. There is a sense of privacy which no other season gives. Spring, summer or fall people sort of buzz around. While in the monsoon the drone of nature may take getting used to, it is the winter that provides quiet stretches for one to savour the sense of belonging to one’s own self.
Keeping warm, is a luxury in itself. Winter being milder in my part of the world, we tend to wear thick cottons or thin woollens. Silks are the norm for daily dressing.
The festivals involve dishes made of Til ~also known as gingelly that is sesame. Roasted sesame is dropped into melted or caramelized jaggery to which ginger, cardamom and cashew bits have been added. This is rolled into small balls. Til is supposed to be a keep warm nutrient that helps one tide over the winter scarcity.
Keep warm food are spicier, tangier yet lighter. Ginger, pepper flavours.
End of the day it is all about Shifting with nature’s energy—change of season
In today’s world office jobs and supermarkets have made it possible to provide for ourselves and our families regardless of nature’s cycles. While most of us no longer depend directly on nature’s seasons for our livelihood our body’s clocks still know deep down that a change of season means a change in us too. If we don’t acknowledge this we may feel out of sync, as though we have lost our natural rhythm. These days, autumn is more likely to bring thoughts of going back to school than harvesting but into classes the chill in the air tells us it is time to move inside and prepare for the future. We can consciously celebrate the change of season and shift our energy by setting time aside to make the same change we see in nature. We change our colours like falling leaves and wilting blooms by putting away our bright summer colours and filling our wardrobes and living areas with warm gold’s, reds and browns,
While plants concentrate energy deep in their roots and seeds we can retreat to quieter indoor pursuits, nurturing seeds of endeavours, which need quiet concentration to grow. We can stoke our inner fires with our favourite coffee, eat, cider or cocoas while savouring rich hot comfort foods that the season brings on array of fall colours, potatoes, pumpkins, corn etc. as animals begin growing their winter coats and repairing their dens for hibernation we dust of our favourite sweaters and jackets and bring blankets out of storage creating cosiness with throw rugs and heavier drapes. We can also light candles or fireplaces to b ring remnant of summer’s fiery glow indoors.
By making a conscious celebration of change we usher in the new season in a way that allow us to go with the flow, not fight against it. We sync ourselves up with the rhythm of nature and the universe and let it carry us forward nurturing us as we prepare for our future.
“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
― Yoko Ono