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Isheeta Sharma

A host of peacocks, brilliant
with plumes, gorgeous and spread out,
now eager for the sound of thunder,
which for them is always thrilling,
quickly seek to kiss their partners,
and begin their dance today.

Ritusamharam: A Gathering of Seasons
Kalidasa (Trans. A.N.D. Haksar)

Varsha rtu is one of the most celebrated and romantic seasons of the subcontinent.

The first month of Varsha rtu – Shravana – comes to a close with the Purnima on August 15. This full Moon is also celebrated as Nariyal Purnima in Maharashtra.

On this day the fisherfolk offer to the god of the Sea coconuts and ask for his blessings; they seek his protection for when they set sail on the Seas in search of their livelihood. And they thank him for the endless bounty the Sea provides. They also offer their gratitude to the Earth by planting trees on this day. For the rest us, we celebrate Rakhi on this day. Ritually, the most auspicious time to tie Rakhi is during Aparahna - between 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Bhadrapada – the second month of Varsha rtu – begins with the onset of Krishna Paksh, the waning lunar phase on August 16.

Along with the lush beauty that this season offers, there is also a note of caution. According to Ayurveda, our digestive system is at its weakest during monsoons, slowing down our metabolism and leading to low immunity. Drinking Ginger tea or eating a small piece of Ginger with Jaggery can help boost our digestive fires and thus our body’s metabolism. Traditionally certain foods have also been avoided during monsoon. Consuming fish is not recommended, since monsoon is the breeding season for fish. This injunction is observed most strongly by communities for whom fish is both, a livelihood and a staple part of the diet, such as Bengalis or amongst fisherfolks such as the Kolis of Mumbai.

With ‘Jamshedi Navroz’ the Parsi new year begins on August 17 as per the traditional Iranian calendar.  In the Malayalee calendar too, the new year begins on the same day.

And on August 18 many parts of north India celebrate the second Teej of Varsha rtu - Kajari Teej or Badi Teej. Rajasthan’s Bundi fair is famous for its Kajari Teej celebrations. As part of the celebrations it is customary to sing Kajris or folk songs, which express the longing of a woman pining for her lover while she is in her parent’s home where she has returned to celebrate Kajari Teej. In some communities, women also observe a day long fast on this teej, praying to the Moon and the Neem tree. The fast is traditionally broken by eating Sattu – a flour consisting of a mixture of ground pulses and cereals.

Krishna Janmashtami falls on August 24 this year.

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