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Friday, March 28, 2014

Time for Vasanta Navaratri Utsav (Telugu New Year Celebrations)

Wow! Koel has come to our campus for the first time in the seasonCuckoo coos her annually recurrent mellifluous songfrom the mango blossoms. Cooing of the earliest Koel, the hum of the bees, the freshness and the fragrance of sprouted leaves, opening blossoms, the stealthy perfume of wild-flowers in the grass… and come Chaitra, the first month of Telugu calendar….  all that is the first of the season greets the people … nature at its splendor hugs everyone … indeed muzzles ‘twixt the breasts of happiness. What a sweet announcement of the arrival of Vasant (spring) … of Ugadi!

Koel is cooing like there is no tomorrow… perhaps, she must be aware that tomorrow is always unborn … unfurling … ever arriving … making everyone wait—like our wait for the arrival of koel  and her serene and soothing cooing …that  “uplifts the soul to realms above”… that feeds us “joy and peace…” season after season; year after year…

Forgetting for a while that I am in the office, sliding back into my student days —of sitting in the mango grooves … leaning on the rough trunk of a mango tree with textbook in the lap and struggling to make sense of the sines, co-sines, gammas and thetas that spilled all over the page in the Statics chapter … and in between joining the koel in her cooing, indeed mocking at her to make her sing still more enthusiastically —inadvertently started chorusing her   ….  What a picturesque morning!

All this soaks me further with the life past in that pristine sylvan surroundings. Life was arrestingly beautiful then and the very word Vasant used to evoke a kind of indefinable Uthsaha, Ullas, Paravasya —heroic sentiment, delight, ecstasythen as now. And, irrespective of the age, the very thought of Vasant used to make everyone emote similarly… Even plantsas Valmiki observed,  “pushpa mase hitaravaha sangharshadiva pushpitaha”—would flower so profusely as though in competition with each other. No wonder if Krishna has declared, “Rutunam kusumakaraha”—Of all the seasons, I am Vasant.

Evenings were still more beautiful: visits to SriRamanavami  pandillu (temporary shelters) and all those gods consecrated under its shade on Chaitra suddha Padyami, the first day of the first month of Telugu calendar commonly known as Ugadi—beginning of the new year, fine breeze steeped in smells of freshly-cut and dried Palmyra leaves that roofed the gods and the incense thrown at them, plus the rhythmical  chanting of priests eulogizing gods in their own language, of course, amidst the cacophony of the airy-fairy kids playing under the pandiri (shelters) … Magically, all of a sudden, silence dawns and everyone becomes alert for Panchanga sravanam—listening to the reading of almanac by the Pandit. What a marvel!

And this festive atmosphere continues for nine days till Chaitra Suddha Navami packed with variety of programs—Harikathas, musical concerts, Bharatnatyam and what not … everyday starting in the evening and stretching into late night … participation in them is a dear delight … while returning home in that late night’s silence recalling the woes of SriRama or the sufferings of Sita in Lanka in choked voices or animatedly discussing the pranks of Bhima against Kauravas  that the Bhagavathar had just narrated in the pandal… and so goes on the discussions even after reaching home reclining on the bed under the sky…Finally all that merriness comes to an end on Chaitra Suddha Navami with the celebration of SriRama’s kalyan (wedding celebration) with Sita.

All through spring, the earth painted in glowing colors by flowers of different hues on a green canvas of “the shoots of mango young”,  the fine breeze blowing over the fragrant jasmines, the crystal clear blue sky over them… all of this tells you it’s time to step out of the old and reach for the new—the Ugadi. They all collectively command us to celebrate its arrival … but not to crib —maku ugadulu levu ushassulu levu (No new years for us/ no dawns for us )—as Devulapalli mused. Time to go out and, fired by desire and passion— passion to mould yourselves into some certain cute, pleasant, acceptable lot to people around you—make the life anew! It would be yours.  

Enjoy it as you can, for the Bard warns: “… [spring] lease hath all too short a date.”
Happy Ugadi to all of you!


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