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Seasons, reasons and a lifetime

"Four Season, cherry tree"  

Are mangoes in season? Have you seen Big Bang Theory Season 2? Rain in December? So unseasonal! Can you pass me the pizza seasoning please?

The word “season” conjures up so many meanings and images in our mind. Just as there is a reason for everything, there is a season for everything as well. There are seasons for the use of words, names for newborns, superfood fads, workout routines and what-have-you!

A season is a part of a year, marked by weather and daylight hours, influencing our life from availability of foodgrains, vegetables and fruits to wardrobes. Or it could imply a set or sequence of programmes. To season is to add salt, pepper or other spices to enhance the flavour of food or make wood suitable for use.

A season signifies a period when something is common or popular — or when something usually happens or is done. Activities, clocks and schedules change with seasons. People in cold climes turn back their clocks in summer to make better use of their time during the day. In the past, household chores for women used to vary a lot with the seasons. There was a season to purchase, clean, air out and store foodgrains for the whole year. Pickles were made for the year — mangoes in the summer, chillies in the winter. Mattresses were left under the April sun. This is changing rapidly, with the changing profile of Indian women and the availability of traditionally seasonal food and clothing throughout the year.

Seasons add novelty to our lives. A change of season means a change in food, clothes and daily activities. If winter means that you look forward to a hot cup of masala chai, summer has the ultimate attraction — mangoes for lunch and a siesta thereafter! No one can imagine monsoon without hot pakodas and candle-lit dinners (because of possible power failures). Steamed raw mango for bathing in the summer to avoid prickly heat changes to gram flour, turmeric and cream in winter. In places with extreme climates, “wardrobe replacement” according to seasons is a huge task.

Mood swinger

Seasons influence our moods and emotional well-being as well. To quote Albert Camus, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Moods could thus be called the seasons of the mind. To quote Shakespeare, “Sometimes hath the brightest day a cloud; and after summer ever more succeeds barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold; so cares and joys abound as seasons fleet.”

Seasons, festivals, food and fun go hand in hand. India celebrates several harvest festivals to mark changes in season and arrival of new crops. Makar Sankranti marks the end of winter and is celebrated with the traditional til-gul in Maharashtra and kite flying in Gujarat. Lohri is celebrated in Punjab with the bhangra dance to the beats of the nagadas. Baisakhi marks the onset of summer, and Onam is a harvest festival towards the end of the monsoon.

Summer means holidays and time with cousins or sightseeing.

Our films weave their stories and songs around seasons. Spring and the blossoming of love, along with the new blooms, are perhaps the most oft-used metaphors in Hindi cinema. Seasons add to the flavour of the cinema and help the story progress! The ashrams of life according to the Hindu scriptures, are the phases or seasons of one’s life — where brahmacharya or spring signifies birth, grihastashram is summer, a period of growth, vanaprasthashram signifies autumn and decline and sanyas embodies winter or death. As Yoko Ono puts it very beautifully, “Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

To quote philosopher George Santayana, “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. Embrace the seasons and cycles of your life. There is a magic in change. It also tells us that after every winter there will be spring — so never despair, for hope is round the corner. It teaches us that spring does not last forever either — hard work for the winter of our lives is inevitable.”

As Zaid K. Dahhaj puts it beautifully in his essay “Why understanding the seasons of life will ease your suffering”, “Just as the earth experiences spring, then summer, then fall and finally winter — your own life cycle has its seasons.”

datar.himani@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 5:33:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/seasons-reasons-and-a-lifetime/article34288518.ece

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