A novel twist to the desi New Years

It’s New Year time, I mean time for desi New Year Celebrations. Be it Baisakhi in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, Noboborsho in Bengal or Vishu in Kerala, most regions in India usher in New Year mid-April, sometime between 13th to 15th April. These days are significant for each community marked with new purchases, feasting and cultural celebrations. People visit their places of worship, layout traditional feasts, visit each other, there are so many social dos.

This year, however, it was different. Locked in to tackle a novel virus we did not have much to celebrate for. With social distancing becoming the new norm, any kind of function or social visits were out of the question. Some of us did manage to dish out feasts at home with whatever ingredients one could manage. Picture of homecooked delicacies on social media and WhatsApp groups did bring me some cheer. We wished each other in our virtual world while the real world wore a deserted look. We prayed in the solace of our home wishing for our old world to be back soon.

Photo courtesy Abhishek Rana

Nature, on the other hand, had a different story to tell. There were celebrations all around. As I went to my balcony at night in my good noboborsho pyjamas, after a plateful of special Maggi for dinner, a glowing Venus greeted me in all her glory followed by her friends twinkling with joy in a clear night sky. The plants in my small balcony garden have never looked greener, blooming periwinkles are such delight to my eyes. Ganga water has become fit for drinking and Yamuna has never been this clean before. Dolphins have been seen on Mumbai beach, peacocks and deer are out in the road. The most polluted cities of India are filled with Oxygen. The story is the same world over. Nature is revelling as we humans are locked in!

My blooming garden

We vain humans. For all our successes, our march to progress, we forgot that we are but a small cog in the grand scheme of things. We forgot that we once worshipped and celebrated nature, and not destroyed her mindlessly. Indian New Years, that usually fall in the fag-end of spring, mark the beginning of harvest season, celebrates Mother nature before sowing new seeds. Nature has been an inherent part of our culture. Epitomized as Prakriti, a fertile woman or a mother, who conjoins with Purusha, the man, to create and nurture the world – the world that consists of all things living, not just humans. 

Spring Sky. Courtesy Riti Chakraborty

Other civilizations across the globe, have their own lore’s of nature, of man’s oneness with nature. Gods and Goddesses in both Hindu and Greek mythology symbolize many forces of nature. Noah’s ark that saved his family from the great Biblical flood also sheltered thousands of species of animals. In fact, God commanded him to do so.

But for us, the educated urbane lot, these are just mythological tales, mere lore that the novel virus has thrown back on our face, rather mercilessly. Yes, a rude jolt was what we needed, but it remains to be seen how long we stay awake!

Butterfly, butterfly…

The other day, on my morning walk, I met my long-lost friend
A white butterfly with a black dot on each wing, flitting from flower to flower
I stopped, looked at her and smiled. “Where have you been for so long?” I wondered
The butterfly paused too for a while, she heard me, or so I thought
But as I walked gently towards her to take a closer look, she fluttered and glided away
“Oh, come back, I missed you so,” but off she flew, away from the manicured shrubs of my society’s park

Image courtesy hepl.lib.in.us Every morning I seek her, but she’s nowhere to be found Butterfly, her friends’ dragonfly, grasshopper and honeybee, who would buzz around my garden when I was a little girl Flitting from flower to flower, moving from leaves to leaves, what a delight to watch Sometimes they would dart into my room through the open window humming a tune of love For them the flowers bloomed and yielded honey, for them the earth blossomed The little girl in me flourished happily in their company Then one day I had to leave my childhood garden and my friends behind. The joy of exploring the world, the sorrow of leaving my little garden behind. “I will be back soon,” I assured my winged friends as I bid them goodbye But the world and its many wonders had me captivated. Like a sailor drawn to a siren’s song, I moved on and on. The glitzy concrete cities beckoned me, the tall skyscrapers created an illusion of success and achievement. The little garden and my winged friends were soon forgotten, like sweet nothings that catch your fancy for a while. The garden in my concrete high rise is all so meticulously planned and organized, that allows no flitting and fluttering of butterflies, honeybees, grasshoppers or dragonflies One morning I chanced upon her again, my sweet childhood friend, butterfly. “Where are my other friends, dragonfly, grasshopper and honeybee?” She froze for a while, then off she flew far, far away. "That’s rude, I am hurt, that’s no way to treat an old friend. “Friend? Really?” I suddenly heard the buzzing bee over my head". “Where were you when they were destroying our garden and killing your winged friends?”