Most of us too, I guess, cherish our earliest memories of the pitter patter of the falling rain. For, the monsoons are such an integral part of our lives that the rhythms of the rain have become an element of our life and existence. Something that is almost embedded into our genetic code and transmitted through the generations. The rains arouse deep primordial instincts and awaken our senses as the monsoon plays its coy, dating game with us every June. After the baking and oppressive heat of summer, we eagerly await its arrival. Soon, the earth is drenched by the cascading rains, and the parched soil once again turns dark green with dense grass and freshly sprouting shoots. Even as the sky is streaked with dangerous flashes of lightning, and the majestic rumbling of thunder fills our hearts with fear and apprehension, we are comforted by the familiar croaking of bull frogs mating under dripping eaves. The air is suffused with the promise of new life. And the occasional year, when the monsoon is delayed, or God forbid, even delinquent, there is utter panic and despair as our lives are thrown hopelessly out of gear.
Truly, the monsoon is inseparable from India and her moods, her arts and her culture. Indians believe the monsoon to be a powerful force that is a gift from the Gods. It is central to our life; it is central to our commerce; it is central to our very being. And most importantly, it has become an inalienable part of our cultural lives. This season of thunder and lightning, swollen rivers, emerald green fields and dark, ominous clouds is integral to our social and cultural ethos. It is a time when peacocks dance amorously, lovers meet in secret trysts and the senses are over powered by the intoxicating smells of wet, damp earth. It is a unique season; one that creates life, and resuscitates life.
And In Kerala, it is also a season for the traditional rejuvenation of the body. It is a time when the circadian rhythms of life are suspended and the pace of life slows down, as the mind and the body are subjected to the centuries old traditions of ayurveda. It is the time to revitalize our bodies through oil massages and rest; a time for drinking karkidaka kanji and having thaalu curry. A month for re-reading the wisdom contained in the pages of the Ramayanam. A time of introspection and contemplation when we renew our bond with nature, as our forebears have done through the ages.
The rainy mornings, the sound of rain right outside the window,the colourful umbrellas and raincoats, the splashing sound that shoes make when children jump on puddles, vehicles that splash water on pedestrians and light vehicles, parents carrying children on their shoulders so that the uniform does not get spoilt, the hot teas and idli’s, the varieties of ‘kanji’, the greenery all around, water everywhere. All these are memories that every mallu man and woman will share wherever they are in the world.
Kerala’s beloved “poet of beauty” the late Vyloppili Sreedhara Menon, wrote in his pastoral idyll, Varshagamam,
“Like a cooling unguent caressing the eyes,
Like a melodious symphony soothing the ears,
Like a fragrant balm nourishing the body
Comes along a new season of rain………..”
It’s time to celebrate yet another monsoon season.