Surprisingly mild temperatures greeted us last winter. There were fewer sub-zeroes compared to the previous year, and there were not too many days with icy roads. The city witnessed a seasonal transition that was easy and smooth. Although March 20 was officially marked the first day of spring, I could see it coming earlier from the cherry blossoms and dogwood trees in peak bloom in my backyard. The pollen dust settling on the cars parked outside also signaled that spring was in the air.
With its crisp air, green grass, soft hues, the sweet fragrance of flowers, and the symphony carried out by birds, nature undoubtedly is at its best this time of the year. The world embraces spring with zest and vivacity. As the United States kickstarts the arrival of this joyous season with lively green parades and Easter egg hunts, thousands in Mexico participate in the spring equinox party. Every March, the streets of Valencia, Spain are marked with joy and filled with the hustle and bustle of the Falles festival which for the city is a harbinger of spring. Thailand in mid-April observes the Songkran festival that is tied to the Thai New Year. It is a fun water war that Thais engage in with fellow citizens and tourists alike. The Japanese welcome spring by organizing picnics and outdoor parties under the cherry blossom trees.
Breathing an air of social merriment comes Holi, in India, to mark the passing of winter and the advent of spring. It is a pretty sight as young and old play with colors and wash away their worries in that moment of magic. My childhood till the mid-twenties was nestled in a state where the new year is observed in mid-April. Known as Rongali Bihu (derived from the word rong which means happiness and celebration) this spring festival is celebrated with inexplicable exuberance: fun, food, music, and dance are all synchronized in colorful festivity.
As we muse on the glory of this festive season, it’s a time for silent reflection. It is obvious that although the cultural codes across the planet are varied, the theme is universal. Denizens all over the globe welcome spring and celebrate its beauty. There is an underlying conformity. Despite geographical barriers and differences in language, customs, and traditions, the desire to live and laugh pervades mankind. If that is true, why then can we not overlook diversity and unite in human spirit? The hatred and violence the world breeds today will give way to love and peace, enmity will give way to brotherhood, and faith and hope will rule our hearts if only we believe that although dressed in varied garbs, beneath the lining, we are the same human beings. The forceful lyrics of a song by humanitarian singer/ songwriter Daniel Nahmod are worth pondering upon:
We breathe the same air
Drink the same water
Walk the same earth
Kiss the same sky
Breathe the same air
And I think we ought’a
Get along better
You and I
The future of history
Is crystal clear
The borders between us
Of the same small planet, we are born
There’s no foreign country anymore
Let us all rejoice in the beauty of spring by forgetting the gulfs in caste, creed, and color and instead shower love, smiles, and sunshine among our brethren as we tread along the path in life.