Spring Festivals

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Spring Festivals (Vasannta Utsav, India)

***** Location: India, worldwide
***** Season: All Spring
***** Category: Observances


Spring, the King of Seasons
By Aju Mukhopadhyay

Festivals may originate from some legends, around a cult hero, or in some faiths. Many of the festivals are religious but they have some links with the seasons like spring. Spring time varies from country to country, between places in a country. South Indian spring comes earlier than its northern counterpart. Everything is rejuvenated after the severe winter. Spring is the king of seasons. Spring is the season of youth, growth, hope and exuberance. Like trees and flowers vernal festivals are full of colours. Spring is celebrated everywhere.

In poet’s cry, ‘Can spring be far behind?’ utmost hope was reverberated for the warmth from the Sun, for a release from the grip of winter. Winter solstice of the Sun is around 21-25 December. It is the beginning of the turning of the Sun. Countries in ancient civilizations observed numbers of festivals by this time, symbolizing the triumph of light over the darkness. Aurelian proclaimed December 25 as the birthday of the unconquered Sun. but this is the beginning of a hope. Winter still continues, though less severe.

Toward the end of Janurary winter gradually recedes when people come out to welcome the spring or Basant. Though it is a Hindu festival, Lahore in Pakistan celebrates this by flying kites as a traditional ritual. Kites are prepared overnight. Shops remain busy. In spite of the ban on kite flying they do it, celebrate Basant.

Every year people from Zubieta and Iturin in Spain join the Basque traditional carnival to welcome the spring, wearing big bells on their backs, colourful rooster feathers on their hats and carrying horse tails in their hands. The Chinese celebrate the beginning of their lunar year around this time which is the same as celebrating the spring. This lunar year has been considered auspicious for marriage. People in Hafei, Anhui province, queued up for marriage.

Amritsar in Punjab has also celebrated kite flying with pictures of freedom fighters on their kites on the Republic day. Lohri is a village festival in Punjab, observed at this time, the end of Paus month, to invoke the Sun, paying homage to it by making bonfire with dried cow-dung cakes and other materials. Merry making and eating, wearing new clothes are parts of this festival. The traditional heritage festival of Jaipur is held in January when winter is subdued with colour and gaiety, with songs, dances, shopping and eating hundreds of sovouries.

Ladies squabble at the Rajasthani Ghagra stall among hundreds of overflowing stalls selling a fabulous variety of hand made desiderata. Overwhelmed with this festival, a New Yorker, Miranda Innes, has commented in her article (Financial Times; January 14/15, 2006), ‘Where winter is a world away’, ‘Indian jewellery is the most sumptuous in the world- worlds beyond the sterile perfection of Bond Street Bijoux. . . . The Jaipur Festival is a life changing way to spend January.’

Though Pongal, celebrated in January, is an agricultural festival in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, it is purely spring time in South India. Kites with long tails are seen in Pondicherry and its neighbouring skies, a shadow of the annual international kite flying festival at Ahmedabad at this time.

But all these are welcoming the spring when the air is little haphazard like a crack-headed whimsical boy, leaves still fall from the trees, the Sun is bright and the sky is without blemish. It is neither too cold nor hot; a pleasant climate prevails on earth here. It is the end of January and the beginning of February. Basant Panchami was on 3 February. Spring continues through it.

The spring at its last leg embraces us during the vernal equinox between the middle of March to the third week of it. Holi, the play of colours, is enjoyed during this time, mostly by the North Indians, but its attraction has been spreading in the south too. The Parsis celebrate Navaroze with pomp and splendour.

In Udaipur Mewar Festival is held diverging into song, dance, rituals and fireworks. Elephant Festival is celebrated in Jaipur (Gangaur), worshipping Siva and Parvaati during Holi. Poet Rabindranath Tagore introduced Basanta Utsav during Holi at Shantiniketan. Song, dance and play of colours occupy the major part of the festival. Large numbers of people gather there every year to celebrate and witness it.

Sights and sounds of spring charm every heart, specially the heart of the young ones everywhere. Mango and margosa flowers bloom. A kind of emotive smell wafts in the air. Various colourful birds come back on trees and gardens to enjoy the fruits of the season. Spring is the season of love. It fulfils the young heart’s desires. At least the nature is bountiful. It is ready to give. In one form or the other the peoples of the world celebrate the spring between January and March, after which the summer sets in.

© Aju Mukhopadhyay, 2006
Published in the New Indian Express, March 2006

Worldwide use


Spring festival, Haru matsuri 春祭 はるまつり
Mostly in the form of Plum Blossom and Cherry Blossom Festivals.

Spring festivals in rural areas start at the beginning of the New Year, with prayers for a good harvest and fruitful fields. So many of them are classified as kigo for the New Year or Winter.

In Japan, flying a kite is a kigo for the New Year.
New Year's kite, shoogatsu no tako 正月の凧

Things found on the way

Kites (tako 凧) in Japan, by Gabi Greve


CLICK for more pongal photos
Pongal Celebrations

Now is the season for Pongal in Tamilnadu as well as Shankaranthi (Sankranthi) in the neighbouring states. This marks the harvesting of crops especially rice.

Pongal -
first rice of the harvest
boiling in a new clay pot

kolams on the courtyard -
sun god visits
the houses of the farmers

B.Vadivelrajan, January 2008

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Pongal and Sankranti are celebrated this year during January 13-15, 2014. These are very auspicious days in our calendar.

Pongal and Sankranti stand for harvest festival in India. On this day people offer prayers to the goddess of wealth and the sun god, too. It is offering gratitude for the harvest the livelihood in an agricultural country like India. The sun enters the zodiac sign Capricorn to herald the end of winter chill.

After three months' journey to south Sun turns to north on this day (Uttarayan). This day is celebrated all over India under diffrerent names: Lohri in Punjab, Haryana and all the northern states. People sing, dance and enjoy surrounding the bon fire. In Andhra Pradesh and other southern states it is sankranthi. It is in fact a three-day celebration: Pongal, sankranthi and kanumu. Young girls make flower arrangements - Rangoli- in front of the houses. There are several cultural programmes like dance, music. It is all to welcome the sun. It is a harvest festival.

In Orissa, Bengal and northeast states it is Makar Sankranti- the sun enters the Zodiac Capricorn. The country side go wild with celebrations, lovely foods to eat, rangoli arrangements and family get together. In Bengal many devotees take dip at the mouth of the Ganges, where the hemitage of sage Kapil is situated.

All along the course of the Ganges people take holi dips at Rishikesh, Haridwar, Varanasi etc. The same custom of holi bath is followed in river Godavari, the Cauvery and in the seas at different places. People do offer a handful of water to the sun.

On this lovely day let the warmth of sun pervade our hearts to warm up our inner beings, and in turn we make our lives and our society bubble with joys and happiness, light of wisdom and flames of love and peace.

Makar Sankranti --
the sun wakes up to
look northward

- Shared by Kumarendra Mallick -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2014

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kolam, kollam, kolum:
Threshold Design in Tamil Nadu

CLICK for more photos

These patterns are normally called "Kolum." O sounds like Oh. U sounds like bun. Kohlum. When the symmetrical pattern is decorated in colors using colored sand or flower, then it is called rangoli.

The design or pattern is not symmetrical sometimes, but it is just a continuous line that curves around to make a beautiful border or design at the Center of the yard. . The threshold desing is compared to African sand drawings.

These patterns or designs were created in the olden days (according to Tamil literature) using rice flour. Holding a handful of flour in their right hand, the woman will uniformly drop the flour to make a line through her thumb and pointer and keep on moving her hands to make the curve or the dots. Nowadays, women use powder made out of stone. (Stone is crushed and sold commercially).

The patterns are very complicated and huge during festival months. The temples will have complex patterns that will cover thousands of square feet. Sometimes, several women together will create one large design.

Read more HERE:
 © www.tamilnation.org/

Decoration was not the sole purpose of a Kolam.
In olden days, kolams used to be drawn in coarse rice flour, so that the ants don't have to work so hard for a meal.
Kolam Decorations, wikipedia


- quote
Ratha Saptami or Rathasapthami
(Sanskrit: रथसप्तमी or Magha Saptami) is a Hindu festival that falls on the seventh day (Saptami) in the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu month Maagha.[2] It marks the seventh day following the Sun’s northerly movement (Uttarayana) of vernal equinox starting from Capricorn (Makara).

It is symbolically represented in the form of the Sun God Surya turning his Ratha (Chariot) drawn by seven horses (representing seven colours) towards the northern hemisphere, in a north-easterly direction. It also marks the birth of Surya and hence celebrated as Surya Jayanti (the Sun-god’s birthday).
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

- - - - -

Today, Feb 06, 2014 is Rath Saptami, an auspicious day in Indian calendar. It is also the birthday of the sun god. This marks the seventh day of the 'uttarayan' (northward movement) of the sun, the beginning of the spring. This day marks the enhancement of solar power, the end of winter.

Across the country people take holy dips in seas, rivers and lakes and offer prayers to Sun god. There are several sun temples in India, the prominent one is at Konark, one of the seven wonders. Here on the Chandrabhaga beach thousands take holy dips before the sunrise and wait to have a glance of the sun at the distant horizon.

Seven is a magic number. There are seven colours in the solar spectrum (seen in the rainbow), there are seven days in a week, seven notes in our music system, seven stars in the Great Bear constellation (Saptarshi). We offer prayers to our seven past generations. When we feel elated or fotunate, there is a saying that one is in seven heavens! When some one is far, it is said one is acoss seven seas. And yes, before tying the knot the bride and the bridegroom go round the fire seven times.

Every nation across the globe must have something to describe about sun god and the significance of seven. Among several 'mantras' chanted on this day, the Gayatri mantra is most revered. On this auspicious day lets us offer our respects, gratitude and obeisance to sun god who sustains life on the earth.

Magh - a month (Jan-Feb) beginning of Spring; Rath - chariot

spring begins --
chirrups jump from tree to tree
at dawn

- Shared by Kumarendra Mallick -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2014


spring festival -
the mind just soars and soars
and soars

© Photo and Haiku by Gabi Greve, Japan 2005


spring festival
hail clatters
on the stage

Darrell Byrd

ooo ooo ooo

spring festival
sunlight haloes
the baby’s hair

Connie Donleycott

Related words

Festivals and Spring in India

Bull Fighting, jallikattu / Pongal Festival

.. .. .. WKD - Spring in Japan (March - April)

***** Kite flying festival India, Pakistan

***** Vasant Panchami festival Punjab
Basant Panchmi - ਬਸੰਤ ਪੰਚਮੀ , Basant Panchami

Baishakhi Festival
Goa Carnival
Gudi Padva Festival
Hanuman Jayanti Festival
Mahavir Jayanti Festival
Pesakh Festival
Pooram Festival
Ramnavami Festival Ramzan Id Festival
Shiva Ratri Night, Festival
Spring in India (vasant, basant)
Vasant Navratri Festival

***** Festivals of India, all are kigo

***** Festivals of Japan

***** ***** . Autumn Festival (aki matsuri, Japan)


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