Synchronizing with the themes of hope and positivity, spring symbolizes growth, freshness, love, and abundance. I stand on the threshold of winter, looking forward with great enthusiasm to a season which bestows so many blessings on Mother Earth. It is an annual ritual for me that makes me ecstatic.
The changes in my backyard make me blissfully aware that spring is on the way. After being bare for several months, the branches are gradually clothed with tender green leaves. The camellia and the cherry blossoms start to bloom, and the fraternity of birds that stayed silent in the winter bounce back to action with their pleasant chirpings.
When spring adorns India
My thoughts travel all the way to my growing-up years in India where millions celebrate the transition of spring into summer with zest. What instantly comes to my mind is Holi. It is a pretty sight to see the playful tossing of colors all around. Metaphorically speaking, we wash away our worries and dream of days that are colorful and hopeful.
The Indian diaspora glitters with a wide range of festivals that are observed all across the nation. To name just a few, we have Baisakhi, also known as the harvest festival, from Punjab and Haryana, Kollam Pooram from Kerala, Kavant from Gujarat, and Naba Barsha from the eastern state of West Bengal.
Warmly snuggled in the north eastern part of India is my home state of Assam. The spring festival that I undoubtedly relate to the most is Rongali or Bohag Bihu which is the Assamese New Year. The transformation is magical as melodies fill the air and the young and old revel in the cheer of the festive season. Fun, food, music, and dance are delicately harmonized in joyful festivity. Nature too co-operates with the blessed ambience with new blooms and colors.
Spring, or bohag as the Assamese say, has a special significance for the people of Assam. Bhupen Hazarika, the bard of the Brahmaputra and the uncrowned king of North-East India’s musical world, had beautifully described bohag in a song. He explained that spring is not just a month or a season, but the lifeline of the Assamese people, an inspiration for their social life.
Spring celebrations are just not unique to India. At different times, starting as early as mid March, spring is in the air in the Northern Hemisphere with nations immersed in the beauty of this joyous season.
Around the globe.
The sweet fragrance of flowers, the crisp air, and mild temperatures complement one another to mesmerize the human soul restless for a new beginning. In their own ways, nations welcome spring with open arms. From the long list of spring festivals, here are some that are embedded in the concepts of rebirth and rejuvenation.
From the 15th of March to the 19th, the streets of Spain are filled with the hustle and bustle of the Fallas festival. Equinoxes and solstices are celebrated in a rather unique way. The trademark of this occasion is the construction of specially designed dolls called ninots. These figures are paraded in the streets and then burnt in a large bonfire along with anything else that is old and discarded. The underlying thought is to bid goodbye to the old and usher in the new.
With its landscape exquisitely painted with nature’s vibrant colors, Japan’s cherry blossom festivals, known as hanami, are testimony to the beauty of spring. Picnicking and outdoor parties under the sakura tree are common around late March and early April.
Laced with festive sports, Thailand in mid-April observes the Songkran festival that is tied to the Thai New Year. What is witnessed is a fun water war that Thais engage in with fellow citizens and tourists alike.
Sechseläuten, which is usually celebrated on the third Monday of April, is a traditional spring holiday in the Swiss city of Zurich. The onset of spring is celebrated by burning the effigy of a snowman. A myth exists that the faster it burns, the more warmth and sun the Swiss can expect.
Like many other nations, the US also eagerly waits to soak in the gaiety of spring. Easter Egg Hunts are among the most iconic American celebrations that kickstart the arrival of the season. Also famous from a tourist’s point of view are the garden festivals such as the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon and the Atlanta Dogwood Festival which showcase nature at its best.
In spirit, humanity sails on the same boat!
As we look at spring celebrations in varied parts of the world, a message rings loud and clear. The underlying sentiment is that humanity loves to bask in happiness. Communities may have their own distinct cultural codes, but the desire to rejoice is the fragrant breeze that sweeps all of mankind.
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.
We definitely need to reflect on a truth that we tend to ignore. Although we are dressed in varied garbs, beneath the lining we are all the same human beings. The hatred and violence that the world breeds today will give way to love and harmony, enmity will fall to the power of unity, and faith and hope will rule our hearts if we believe in the oneness of the human spirit. So let us all rejoice in the splendor of spring by forgetting those gulfs in caste, creed, and color. And may we instead shower compassion and kindness among our fellow beings to make this world an abode of peace.
( This article was first published in India Currents )