The male cuckoo, intoxicated
with the wine that is but mango juice,
and aroused, kisses its sweetheart,
and the bee inside the lotus flower
also starts a buzz melodious
for pleasing its inamorata.
While we remain restricted in our homes, nature is busy with its rhythms. Basant rtu is now at its peak; the skies are a beautiful blue; the weather is comfortably warm and everywhere flowers are still lushly blooming, and fruits are ripening into lusciousness. But even as the beauty of Basant beguiles, the hint of the next season – Summer – is already in the air.
Vaisakha Amavasya arrives on April 23, marking the end of Krishna Paksh, the waning phase of the Moon. And on April 24, the last fortnight of Basant begins with the waxing phase of the Moon and will culminate in the Vaisakha Purnima. After which Grishma Rtu or Summer will begin.
April 22 is Earth day. What first started in 1970 in America has now grown into a global movement to emphasise the importance of protecting and conserving the environment. Interestingly, the traditional way of life and the customs in the subcontinent have always looked to Nature and its rhythms for guidance and acknowledged the need to live in harmony with natural cycles and rhythms. And if the global viral pandemic has had any silver lining, it has been the cleaner air as the industrial machinery of the world slowed down due to the lockdowns. Now more than ever it is perhaps important for us to introspect and find a sustainable balance between fulfilling our needs and wants and preserving the environment.
Akshaya Trittiya or Akha Teej falls on April 26 this year. This day is considered very auspicious in North India for performing any yajna, giving charity, chanting of mantras, or for starting new ventures. Many people also purchase Gold on this day, as a symbol of wealth and prosperity for the future.
Matangi Jayanti or the birth anniversary of Matangi also falls on April 26 this year. Matangi is one of the ten Mahavidyas. She governs speech, art, music and knowledge and is also known as Tantric Saraswati.
On a much-needed lighter note World Laughter day comes on May 3. This initiative was started in Mumbai 22 years ago by Dr Madan Kataria. It is inspired from the facial feedback hypothesis which suggests that a person’s facial expression can actually impact their mood and emotions. So, make sure to smile a little extra on this day.
The Agni Nakshatram begins on May 4. This is an almost month-long festival dedicated to the God of War - Murugan, son of Shiva and Parvati and elder brother of Ganesha. At this time the Sun travels through the Krittika nakshatra (constellation), which is also commonly known as Agni Nakshatra for the deity associated with this constellation is Agni (Fire). Agni Nakshatram is celebrated with great fervour in the temples dedicated to Murugan across all of Tamil Nadu. However, for some communities in South India Agni Nakshatram is also the period when auspicious events such as beginning a journey, or starting a new venture are avoided. In North India, we know Murugan as Karitkeya.
This month also marks the slow but steady transition to Grishma rtu. The days keep getting hotter and the afternoons are longer. With the heat beginning to settle in the Mangoes have begun to ripen and trees like Peepul and Neem are sprouting fresh, tender leaves, readying themselves to offer their verdant cooling shade in the heat of summer.