Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Spring Mood - The Eastern Eye: Column by Dr.Utpal K Banerjee

Mother Earth does seem to extend her best foot forward at the advent of spring every year. In land after land, post-winter, spring invites an unmatched floral kaleidoscope from nature. In the harsh northern clime, while Holland sees its expansive gardens swathed in breathtaking colours of flowers, Birmingham in England bursts all over into a colourful extravaganza with many-hued tulips. It is not without some pride (if not actual devotion) that Robert Browning sang: The year's at the spring, And day's at the morn, Morning's at seven, The hillside's dew-pearled, The lark's on the wing, The snail's on the thorn, God's in his heaven, All's right with the world!

In the far away land of the Rising Sun, the country waits with bated breath for its first warm winds at the winter's thaw. And when that happens, all the cherry trees everywhere suddenly sprout blossoms: unbelievably all together and entire communities - from schools and colleges, offices and factories - come out in the wide open to observe holiday and witness the wonderful spectacle. It is Ohanami festival, the aesthetic nation's only unchartered holiday on the calendar. If in Myanmar, it is the water sprinkling festivity, in India, it is sharing gulal and crimson-coloured water, and shouting Holi hai in unison.

Eons ago, Kalidasa composed his unique ode to nature, Ritu Samharam, creating metaphor after exquisite metaphor for seasons. If it was Ashadasya prathama divase megham ashlishta sanum... for the rains, it was a beautiful damsel striking with her left heel the Ashoka tree to let it bloom; and it was for a bashful bride to pluck at the mango grove, allowing it to spread fragrant offshoots. Kalidasa was emphatic: then and only then it would be spring, not otherwise.

A millennium had to elapse before a worthy successor would arrive to pen his tender thoughts on India's all six seasons. In an outpouring of 293 songs on nature as many as 96 were on spring, written by Tagore. Unfailingly in Vasanta Utsav every spring, his dream scion Santiniketan erupts into a flurry of dancers' and singers' processions of colourfully attired youth and the old - meandering through roads and meadows - carrying red abir and singing, Come out, you domestic denizens, it's spring on waters and earth, in the wood's cool corridors...

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