Ode to days beyond autumn

setting in of winter

The sprightly bounce of spring, the nostalgic romance of autumn, the vivid sunnies of summer, the cool comfort of winters, the verdancy of nature endowed by the rains, every season that follows the course of life in the world has been typified by its own aura of charm and beauty. Each season brings about its own tale of fancies, each one titillating the senses in its unique measure, sparking the experience of its vibe of newness even when it might indeed be that time of the year when everything instead seeks to ‘fall’ down upon the earth. In fact the season of fall, or the more seasonally linguistic assertion of autumn is as glorified a phase of the natural cycle despite its seating in the lap of a very palpable gloom, one that almost speaks of the lifelessness that is to follow as the world prepares to shed all its past buoyancy of the hues and embrace instead a frigid mode of living. And yet, despite all its gloom and ruminations intense enough to spiral a dive into insanity, albeit still interpreted in a romance unique in its own, autumn is one of the most celebrated of seasons. Or so to say that all seasons are. Think John Keats’ evocative imagery of the beauty of fall captured so surrealy in Ode to Autumn or William Wordsworth’s fancied Lines Written in Early Spring, Henry Howard’s fascination with summer in his evidently summery sonnet The Soote Season or Robert Louis Stevenson’s starkly evident giveaway in Winter Time, and indeed the whole universal affair harboured with the eternal magic that only the rains can lead to burst forth in such immaculateness, the world’s fascination for each of the seasons and their very certain, very impressive characteristic phenomena has been long established.

But amidst the celebration of them all in their different moods and spirits, across their diverse themes of some etched in vibrant colors to those subdued instead in a certain azureness in the being, and indeed across their repertoire of specific offerings, each resplendent in their own holy grail of wonder, these innumerable, uncountable exaltations accruing to the seasons for indeed also a bounty of remarkable reasons have however failed to make way for a particular facet of the transitional spree of nature to rule its own distinct niche of what it spans. The starkness of this biasness might not be very apparent though because it essentially is the understanding of the mood dictating nature for some couple months at a stretch being concentrated only in four large spectrums of awareness. Spring, summer, autumn and winter are the seasons most popularly known for encompassing the vast multitude of events and occasions and happenings that characterise the natural world in all its vagaries. Of course, the rainy season is a bonus appreciation, because who on earth could ever do without the silvery streaks of magic pouring from the skies to make lives a bit more beautiful than what it already is? But in certain countries of the world, or even in many cultures as across many traditional observances and beliefs and understandings, the whole itinerary of the seasons is a bit more extended. And indeed way more dramatic. In these lands blessed indeed with an extra ounce of extravagance from nature’s bountiful basket of beauty, it also is another primal presence that conjures up the wholesome bliss of what is encountered in each of the world’s alluring enough seasons of change. And the one that we are amused hasn’t yet captured the fancies of earthlings despite its setting along as spectacular trails of the natural beckoning is a particular unique assertion, not rested however as uniquely in its identity perhaps because of its non holistic treading of the geographical facades of space and boundaries.

six seasons of the year
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In many countries of the world, and specifically in some territories that make up the expanse of south Asia, the natural occurrence of the seasons manifests in not four but six distinct classifications. The rainy season no doubt is the fifth element but it is the final dawning in of the prewinter season that occurs as a wondrous play the rest of the world is unfortunate enough to miss out on. Particularly in the Indian context, this play of the seasons in sixes rather than in fours is indeed as encompassing of what the terms hold corresponding reference in, in the nation’s more than decipherable craze for the cricketing game. So diversive in fact is the Indian understanding of this cycle of what the natural world embodies for different aspects of its existence to find expression as that the whole concept of the seasons is also distinct in its colloquial reference to the ritus. And the six ritus in India indeed are as incorporating of the drama in their names as they tend to be in their personification of nature’s many a moods of wonder. In the rhythmic, consonant, symphonic sounding of the Grishma, Varsha, Sharad, Hemanta, Shita, Vasanta order in which the Indian ritu reveals its melodic intonation of the natural cycle, it is no wonder that every single one of these names evokes as harmonic an image of beauty and prettiness that defines the natural world.

And among all these seasons of gay abandon characterised in some form or the other, it is the quaintness of the lesser explored Hemanta charm that manages still to hold its own even in the prominence of its more fancied counterparts. Hemant or prewinter, as is denoted by its occurrence during the period after autumn, which is why it can also be understood as late autumn, is a season spinning its own magic. Transitioning from the pretty but somewhat sad belonginess that nature comes to subside into during the season of autumn to the frigid winter days that though are celebrating of life in numerous warming ways is this essential setting in of hemant in the Indian subcontinent. Sometime from the waning days of October, or perhaps after the post Pujo depression has managed to vanish into the misty air permeating the terrains at that time, to the moment when December is past half its way, more accurately till since the day of the winter solstice, it is hemant that fills the mood in its subtly infectious vibe of what delicately ekes a season out of it.

As intriguing though as the relative residing in obscurity of the hemant ritu is also the very nature of its occurrence that in fact might not be the most certain marking of a transition from autumn to winter. And that’s because, India might not experience an autumn at all! Or at least not in the true sense of the term. Except across a certain few places of the country, the otherwise very decipherable fall vibe does not cause much of a stir, so to say not at least in the canopy of rustling golden and red and brown and orange leaves that stands out as an identifier of the season in its essence. Fall in India is rather tame, subdued even that which perhaps explains, somewhat ironically though, the silent status of the prewinter days. But the low profile of assertion that it maintains does not make hemant any less exuberant a season of expression. In fact, this particular period of nature shrouded in mystery galore and stepping silently from a hazy corner of obscurity, marks instead the most enjoyable and pleasant time of the year in our country and a couple more witness to this stupendous sight of the turn of the seasons.

Characterised by a gradual dip in temperature but complemented by vivid sunny days, the breeze always pleasant, the nights nippy but not unbearably cold yet, the mornings fresher and foggier and prettier, is this working in wonder of the prewinter season that gratifies the soul with a pleasure not palpable in any other time of the year. The vibe is resplendent with an energy that might be somewhat lazy, but blissful indeed as the aura inevitably speaks of a season full of celebrations to follow. Sparking joyousness in the heart with the warm vibes of a winter awaiting to be enjoyed in all cosiness is this forever content dwelling of the hemant ritu, unfazed by its lesser popularity in perception or its non existent almost significance in the more global context, imparting perhaps such lessons of life that speak of happiness being a state of existence of one’s own and not what one owns.

hemant ritu in india
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Mellow in its magnificence as well as in its essence as an assertion of the natural way of life that goes about its duty in continuity, the hemanta ritu indeed comes with its fair enough share of the seasonal swingbacks. As a transitional season when the weather is subject to noticeable change, the dips in temperature cause indeed the natural world to be more prone to illnesses. But in now way is this particular marring of the many streaks making up its motley of existence a reason for us to detest what marks the onset of the wintry days. Already an expression of nature not enough lauded are the vagaries of what sum up the uniquely calming premises in which the hemant ritu descends upon the world in a cloud of a certain longing for the chills. Everything about this particular couple of months that come to determine the Indian landscape and existence every year is uniquely engrossing, not so much in the evident reality of it as it is in being a trance like awareness, less comprehended but very much there, endowing upon the bewitching bequeaths of nature a sheen that glistens through the other expressions of the seasonal lineage while being a smiling scenery of soothing softness itself.