Sunday, January 13, 2013

Uttaraayan




















The dry leaves have been falling, all over the city, lining the roads, lazily swirling down on you like “snow”. You know what this means. Our brief Spring, and our Summer, are not far behind. The winter will be over in the blink of an eye, its last fog-filled mornings making you shiver.

The trees must know. They must have known since a while. The bare branches will soon stand out in all their glory, letting us see, for once, the water-like flow of their reaching out. The season of the beautiful shadows on the tarred roads, the ones we drive over, will be with us soon. To be a tree, to be beautiful in all seasons, in gain, and in loss.

The tabebuia trees must already feel their impending blossoms stir deep within them. The sap slowly rising to their finger-tips, to burst into a jubilant yellow inflorescence. Yellow, which is the colour of all our Februaries.

Utttaraayan (from the Sanskrit "Uttara" (North) and "aayana" (movement towards)), the six-month period following the winter solstice in December, when the sun starts its journey into the Northern hemisphere, is finally making itself felt. The dry leaves are the first sign. And then the hotter days.

Today is the harvest festival of Makara Sankranti, the day the Sun moves into the house of Capricorn. The official ending of Winter, the beginning of our brief Spring. A time of transition, an auspicious time. The sugarcane, which was in full silver bloom last month, has been harvested, and is lining our city markets and roadsides, all ready for the festival. Auspicious, its sweet freshness jolting us from our winter torpor. Thousands of brilliantly-coloured kites will rise up to the Sun today, celebrating his slow march to his full glory. Intricate kolams brighten up the drab footpaths in front of houses.

And it is the beginning of the Heat. Which many will complain about, but not you. For those of us Sun-worshippers, this is when we wait for our King to ride in, in his blazing chariot, blinding us at the height of his brilliance. He will teach us what it is to burn, burn, burn, what it is to be alive, open, seared to the bone with the honesty we finally allow ourselves, after we discard the protective cloaks of our vulnerable winter selves. He is not the preferred deity of the weak, the fragile, the ones who seek comfort and ease, the ones who shrink from the cleansing through fire. Few will make it to his altar.

While the traffic whizzes past all around you, indifferent, oblivious to this celestial transition, you align yourself to the caravan of the Sun. You will take his gifts, and his blows, the sweet, with the bitter. And you will wait for the yellow of the flowers, that will replace the yellow of these dry leaves. For everything, a season.

Rain trees in January: https://picasaweb.google.com/106491954401233999557/LookUp

Kolam Album: https://goo.gl/photos/nYQr3vugBrDFuxje6 

Uttaraayan Abum: https://goo.gl/photos/V3BuQRY7e1ZS3Dew6

3 comments:

  1. Thanks Asha for sharing this. On another note, I've always wondered how Sun can "transition" from one place to another while I've always thought that Sun is stationary. Could you explain that?

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  2. Hi Anil, this effect is caused by the tilt of the earth's axis, and also its elliptical path around the sun - so the sun appears to "move". I think this link gives a fairly good explanation, but there's plenty of stuff on the Net, check out the images in the results too, lots of good diagrams.

    http://www.exploratorium.edu/ancientobs/chichen/HTML/sun.html

    This apparent "movement" of the sun is what causes us to have summer in the Northern hemisphere while it is winter in the Southern hemishphere, and vice versa.

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