One arrival, public prayers are performed to help

One feels like bathing again and again, and if one knows how to swim, there is nothing more inviting than a swimming pool. With temperatures rising, people become more irritable, and there are more arguments and quarrels on the streets, and in buses and trams. In clothing, light colours predominate.

The rains take over from summer sometime in June. India is mostly in the plains, and the people of the plains look forward to the coming of the monsoon like a prisoner looks forward to freedom. If there is a delay in its arrival, public prayers are performed to help it on its way! The first drops of rain are a cause for celebration, even among the birds of the air and the animals in the zoos. Buildings and streets and farms and fields take on a washed look. Umbrellas come out on the pavements; puddles appear on the streets; mangoes blossom on the trees.

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It is an important and nervous time for farmers—whether the rains are generous or not is a matter of life and death.

An excess of rains brings with it its own set of problems, making rivers overflow and leaving in its wake a trail of death and destruction. Autumn arrives in September on a two-month sojourn, yellowing leaves and dropping them from their branches. Suddenly the world is full of yellow carpets.

It is the season of one of eastern India’s biggest festivals, the Durga Puja/Dussehra. Colourful pandals are erected to house the Goddess, and music and dancing, sumptuous food and new clothes mark the occasion. Diwali, the festival of lights, also often falls in this season.

Sometime in November a chill enters the air, announcing the advent of winter. Blankets and quilts come out of closets and people wear colourful clothes of wool and wool-substitutes. It is picnic time, and a time to undertake journeys. People gather round bonfires in the evenings, and smoke, smog and mist are in the air.

If Autumn was yellow, Spring is green and golden, visiting early in March to clothe the naked trees and ripen the crops. It is neither too hot, nor too cold, and if the perfectly balanced human being were to find his correspondence in the seasons, it would be none other than spring. The picnics continue, and the season reaches its climax with the celebration of the festival of colours—Holi.

In the hills, the seasons tell their own story. People look forward more to summer than to winter, but the rains often translate into landslides and blocked roads. Autumn and spring are when the tourists come calling, because it is then that the hills are the most hospitable.

Every season acts as a foil to another, and together they make up the collage of life. We may all have our favourite seasons, but they would cease to be so in the absence of the other seasons.