“I hear thunder, I hear thunder,
Oh! Don’t you?
Pitter patter raindrops,
Pitter patter raindrops,
I’m wet through”.
This rhyme that we studied as a four years old, sums up the feeling the monsoon season brings for a kid. It still holds meaning for most of us. It brings back memories of playing the rain water, making paper boats, wearing raincoats and gumboots and enjoying the rains thoroughly. As we grow up and enter our teens we are no more fascinated by paper boats but we still enjoy having hot tea and ‘bhajiyas’ (snacks) during rain. Then, when we become adults we continue enjoying the monsoon, sitting at home and seeing the rain through our windows. Thus, monsoon weaves its magic on all people across different age groups, caste, creed, religion and sex. It brings relief from the scorching summer heat.
In India we worship nature. Varuna is the Aryan rain god whom we have adopted in Hinduism. In the Rigvedic times, Indra was also associated with the weather. He performed the twin functions of war god as well as weather god. He was associated with storm that brought the rain clouds and thunder, and his hand bore the thunderbolt. It is believed that Varuna is the bestowed of rains and regulates the seasons: He is the god of waters, clouds, oceans and river.
There are hymns dedicated to Him in the Rigveda. It is also believed that all the water in the heaven, in the air and on the earth flows at his command. He is prayed to if there is scarcity of rain. Priests perform the “Varuna Japa”, which means chanting a ‘japa’ in the name of God Varuna by standing in water, if there is lack of rain. Indian music is also associated with rains. It is believed that singing the ‘Raag Malhar’ bring the rains. We also associate the arrival and singing of cuckoo and the dancing of the peacock with the onset of monsoon. Even films pay ode to the monsoon season. There are many songs on monsoon as well as pictures in the rains in different films.
The term ‘monsoon’ is derived from the Arabic word mausim which means a time or a season. The dictionary describes ‘monsoon’ as “a periodical wind of the Indian Ocean, South West from April to October and North East the rest of the year, these winds are accompanied by rains” South West monsoon winds bring rains to Kerala, Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The rest of India receives rains from North East monsoon winds. The monsoon season in India is generally from June to October.
Monsoon season is also a season when creativity blooms. Poets give expressions to their feelings by writing poems on the rains. They also describe the magical effect it has on the earth. One Marathi poet writes “the earth looks as fresh young lady who has just taken her bath”. Poets also describe rain accompanied by thunder and lighting and the way it affects the lives of people. The great Indian dramatist Kalidasa wrote Meghdoot symbolically using clouds as messenger. Shakespeare too wrote The Tempest keeping thunderbolt and its implications in mind. Thus, monsoon season is favorite topic of the poets.
Indian is an agricultural land. With almost seventy percent of the population living in rural areas, agriculture is the main occupation in India. Also, barring a few developed States like Punjab and Haryana, majority of the farmers depend on the monsoon, for supply of water to their fields as irrigation facilities are not properly developed throughout India. For farmers timely arrival and departure of monsoon means prosperity.
They believe in the regenerative power of rain and rain god and therefore pray for the blessings. Monsoon, therefore, has great importance to farmers, especially in our country. Rains bring respite not only to farmers but also to the public in general. Monsoon provides relief from the summer heat to all from children to old people and also to the birds and animals. Everyone looks forward to the rains after the heat spell of summer. Rains turn parched lands into greenery which is soothing to the eyes.
Monsoon is an important season for many reasons. Firstly, rain water is necessary for agricultural produce because irrigation facility is not fully developed especially is mofussil areas. Secondly, monsoon feeds water to lakes and rivers. This water is stored through dams and later used for various purposes like supplying water for drinking and other household uses, generation of hydro electricity, water supply to industrial houses for their use, etc. Thirdly, monsoon gives relief to all living beings from the intense heat of the summer. Fourthly, it cools the earth’s surface and thereby reduces global warming to some extent. Lastly, monsoon rains bring about greenery by helping growth of trees and fresh leaves.
“Even if nectar is consumed in excess, it is poisonous”. An overdose of anything is definitely harmful. An excess of rains is also destructive. Many problems arise due to heavy rains, just like the lack of monsoon rains causes problems. The problems arising due to excess of rains are: firstly, excess rains cause flooding of the fields, thereby destroying crops. For e.g., once heavy rains destroyed onion crops in Maharashtra, the recent torrential rains in Mumbai and several parts of Maharashtra brought about loss of crop and cattle of the people. In 2004 heavy rains cause landslides killing people and animals. Many people died in Mumbai due to landslides caused by rains on 26th July. Fourthly, loss of life, both humans and animals, is caused by drawing in floods.
Fifthly, also there is a possibility of outbreak of rain related diseases or epidemics such as gastroenteritis, malaria, jaundice and other water borne diseases. Sixthly, flooding also causes destruction of infrastructures like roads, bridges, railway lines, airport runways, etc. Seventhly, heavy trains also disrupt vital services, such as transport and communication. Eighthly, flooding also causes sewage problems. Ninthly, essential items such as milk, vegetable supplies etc., are also affected. Thus, as a coin has both upside and flipside, monsoon season also has both advantages and problems. Lastly, what havoc unprecedented rains can cause is borne testimony by the rains that lashed Mumbai on 26th July, 2005 when there was a record 944 mm rain in a single day.
However, in spite of all its problems, monsoon is the favorite season for all. Monsoon is my favorite season as well. Its magic engulfs and encompasses one and all. Crisis such as floods brings out the best in each one of us. It brings about a spirit of co-operation. All barriers such as caste, colour, creed, religion etc., are forgotten and help is extended to the needy. Like the recent floods in Mumbai showed the helping tendency of humans. There were people distributing food packets, biscuits, water etc., giving instructions and helping people find their way through flooded streets, cautioning people about open manholes, offering free lift to people in their vehicles, etc. This shows the humanity taught by Indian culture.
The following poetry sums up my feeling about the arrival of monsoon :
“The whispering drops
Stated to dazzle
I could hear
From far a whistle
The monsoon wind
Is on its way
Drops that fell
Over the sand
Made it more
Brown and darker
Over the river
Each made crowns
A view that flashes
Only for seconds
Were thundering loud
A wind will soon
Brings us the monsoon”.
Ms. Latha Lakshmanan Iyer