Monsoon bliss

The South West monsoon is something special to India.There is nothing like this regular phenomenon in temperate countries. Its advent is a dramatic event.

Days before, the koels are busy announcing the forthcoming gala with their loud repetitive cries.

As Indra’s hordes amass over the horizon and launch a fusillade of thunderbolts, the demons of summer, who have tortured man and beast for the last few months with their whiplashes of heat, beat a hasty retreat.

Joyous peacocks herald this victory with their shrill paeans and dance in an ecstasy of triumph with their lovely tails spread out in glorious halos.

The army of clouds besieges the sun, cloaking the land with welcome semi-darkness while the advance scout of the army, a moisture-laden breeze, applies its cooling balm to heated faces. In the gardens and parks and forests, wilted leaves scent this breeze and shiver in joyous anticipation of the life-giving cascades from the heavens.

As the manna of first rain drops over the grimacing earth, a hiss of surcease can be heard with the rise of steam.

Forlorn gullies and streambeds, long since dried to the bone under the relentless summer sun, come alive as dancing water again populates their beds.

His face as furrowed as his land, the anxious farmer smiles at last as the rain drops start pulverising the dry earth.

In the villages, on the wings of rope swings tied to the branches of majestic peepul trees, laughing teenage girls try to kiss the cloud soldiers.

A welter of umbrellas mushroom on city streets to shelter elder citizens while the younger ones unmindful of the soaking, gleefully launch paper boats on the rivulets formed along the pavements.

Perhaps it is due to the musky odour of fresh soaked earth or the mesmerising pitter-patter of raindrops on the roofs or the laving of moist breeze - whatever  be the reason, the monsoon seems to stir romantic notions in the young and old.

This is celebrated in arts, literature and folklore.

An oft-quoted example is Kalidas’ Meghadootam in which a forlorn damsel makes the clouds her messengers to contact her distant lover.

In the miniature paintings of the Rajasthani and Pahari  schools, the monsoon is often the backdrop to lovers entwined in passion.

The popular Teej festival, held during the monsoon months throughout North India, commemorates the union of Parvati and Shiva and thereby celebrates sexual bliss. That is the monsoon for you  -- a regenerative force.

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