Thursday, April 09, 2015

Some Cogitations on Vishu

The Konna, Cassia Fistula

On my morning walk today I saw this regularity, rather, miracle, of nature. The Konna (Cassia Fistula), a flower like dappled sunlight, a profusion of them looking like the sun glittering on a placid lake, is blooming again. That means the Malayalam new year Vishu is here. Vishu is on April 15, in case you would like to know. It’s the day on which farmers begin their farming activities in Kerala ending in the harvest season during Onam. So it’s a time for Vishukani and Vishusadya.

Sunlight when it falls on the Konna makes it even more beautiful. It’s like heaven on heaven, a two-fold blessing to sore eyes that missed many a bloom this spring. The mango tree which should have been full of blossoms is dry and devoid these days, the jackfruit tree in the courtyard is forlorn and a few jackfruits in its branches have turned black and fallen down.

This spring I didn’t see the gulmohurs blossoming in my locality. I don’t know why. Even some of the plants in my garden have wilted. The heat is harsh, the wind is dry, a few days of rain hasn’t mitigated the heat. So global warming is a reality isn’t it? How do we cope with it? Are we prepared?

Yesterday, out in the sun to do a few things I was putting off, I visited Vashi. The heat was so intense that I had to escape to somewhere in the shade, probably with air-conditioning. So I went to Inorbit mall, Vashi, and did some shopping. Bought a large-size green shorts and a size XL tee-shirt. I would have never done that in my earlier days. Nowadays, with a bulging tummy those are the things I wear at home.

Came out at 3 p.m. and the heat was still intense. My skin seemed to scald, the tender organs of the body seemed to shrink, I was feeling dehydrated. That’s when I decided to hire a taxi, though I usually take a train. The heat seemed to have exhausted me. I had a butter milk after reaching home, as I am not in favour of aerated drinks.

There’s about Vishu much more than meets the eye. It’s Bikhu in the Kumaon area, Baisakhi in Punjab, Bisu in Mangalore, Rongali Bisu in Assam, Maha Vishuva Sankranti in Orissa, Naba Barsha in Bengal, Navreh in Kashmir, Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka, Official Nepalese New Year in Nepal, Songkran in Thailand, Tamil Puthandu in Tamil Nadu. All these point to the unified legacy and anthropological origin of the people of the sub-continent, which should make for an excellent anthropological study. Anyone?

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