Spring is the best of all seasons. That is why it is addressed as the Rituraj or the king of the seasons. In India, we live through 6 ritus or seasons. Vasant is the best of all. It is the Magh month according to the Indian calendar. Today is the best day, as it is Vasant Panchami or the fifth day of vasant. An auspicious day for any new project, programme or personal celebration like the house warming or marriage solemnization. An overwhelmingly religious society, here all important celebrations are regulated by consideration of the auspicious day or time. But it is an equally rational society that has declared certain days of the year free from the bindings of all religious considerations of auspicious or otherwise. Vasant Panchami is one such date in the Indian calendar which provides the occasion to celebrate any happy moment from starting formal education to marriage without fixing an auspicious moment for it.
Vasant Panchami is a day dedicated to the Goddess Saraswati, the Muse. She is the deity of sound, speech, word, notes, melody, knowledge, skills, intelligence and wisdom . She is depicted as seated on a white swan, holding the Veena (a musical instrument) in her hands, looking at her devotees in a benign gesture. This is traditionally the first day of formal education of a child, starting with the worship of the Goddess Saraswati. Flowers, sweets, incense, sandalwood paste, tender coconut, sugar crystals and some other things are offered to Her chanting mantras(prayers). The child receives the blessings of his teacher, who gives him the first lessons. It begins with the alphabet. It is called akshar or that which never becomes extinct. Later the child will learn word formation and thereafter sentences and then paragraphs slowly. What is important is the word: it is another name for God Almighty. Without word, the most important emotion of life ca’nt be expressed. Say love without the word! The Word love and Vasant have a direct relation in life. It will become more clear when it gets joined to the Valentine Day.
A few healthy patterns of living have been bequeathed to us in India. One such states the four important stages of life. The first one is Dharma, meaning learning. Acquisition of knowledge and skills is of prime importance for every individual. While a special class of research oriented minds might devote their whole life to the pursuit of knowledge, the average social being goes for it to equip himself for the next but most demanding of all stages in life. It is to earn a decent living by employing the skills acquired. It is Arth or money. Next comes Kama. It is called the fulfillment of all worldly desires, sex being the most significant of them all. It is not only for carnal gratification but for procreation in order to continue the life cycle. After considering all forms of man-woman relationship, the wise had laid down the Grahastha(married)form of union as the best choice for people. These patterns are called Purushartha (competencies). The last one is reached when the individual has to re-discover himself by assessing the time lived and devote the remaining time to pursue detachment from desires and possessions slowly, in order to unburden himself of the mundane existence.
Vasant or Spring symbolizes the driving force of life on the planet. It overwhelms all other emotions. It is the time for new leaves on trees and burst of flowers all over. It is a riot of colours and fragrance and nectar. Butterflies only enhance its effect and honey bees lay out the variety of sweetness that mother Nature gifts us. It is time for mango flowering. A visit to the mango grooves can be intoxicating. Crops are ripening and swinging in the cool breeze of Vasant like the dancing bellies. Miles and miles of opium field sound like serenading .The air is fresh and fragrant.This vasant bahar or the spring effect is further enhanced by the moonlight, quite prominent on vasant panchami but which is ecstatic on the full moon night after another 10 days. This exhilaration stands robbed by the sprawling concrete structures of urban conglomerates. For experiencing the feel of real vasant, one may have to travel in the interior. In a city like Jaipur, the rich had 2-3 storey castles, with an attic at the top, meant to enjoy the thrill of the vasant Bahar. Accompanied by music, drinks and a rich variety of food, it created the most romantic surroundings for the lovers. Some of the finest paintings are devoted to capturing this mood. Vasant is another name for romance. This is the season for romance for the romantics.
Vasant has inspired some of the most powerful poetry in Sanskrit literature. The folk songs celebrating vasant are simply magical. Some of the finest tunes have been based on folk music. It has been said that our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. Wrong. Indeed, our sweetest songs are those that tell of sweetest thoughts. There are no thoughts sweeter than love thoughts. Indian aesthetics puts the emotion of love under the Shrangar Ras. What you get from romantic poetry is a distillation of romance. Its standing emotion is love. Its attendant emotions are longing, desire, pining etc. It is activated by flowers, moonlight, fragrance, beauty, loneliness, garden, groves, birds, streams etc. Vasant offers everything. Responding to the vasant Bahar is a sign of approaching adolescence. It is the time when lessons have not been learnt. Depending upon the level of the partnership, it may grow into full bloomed love or wither away. The process of initiation needs some guide in the partner. Any unwise or untimely step may lead to a tragedy and make the couple Romeo and Juliet in no time. Shrangar has both the aspects: Sanyog paksha and viyog paksha (the meeting or the separating aspect). Depending upon one’s luck it may be saddest or sweetest. But both must respond to the promptings of vasant. St Valentine promoted love. Valentine Day is about to come in about a fortnight. But that will be a bit late. The weather starts turning from Vasant Panchami. It was very cold yesterday. Today it was very warm and sunny. In a fortnight it will be warmer, as it will be only another fortnight for Holi, the festival of colours. That is the beginning of summer. The flowers will be in full bloom, but the romance of watching the first burst of bewitching colours and shapes and fragrances will be missing without doubt. Why not celebrate Vasant ? revive Madanotsava and celebrate valentine’s too. These emotions are for the true and sincere ones only. Jell with Nature, tune with Nature, flower with Nature.