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India's romance with the monsoons

Updated: Jul 18, 2015, 09:29 AM IST

Vasavi Garg

The most important season in India is the monsoon season. India is an agricultural country, and the year’s crops depend on the character of the rainy season. A good monsoon means prosperity, an excess indicates floods while a failure could spell drought and famine.

The monsoons, or trade winds, reach India around the month of June, first hitting the south–western coasts of Kerala. Coming, as they do over thousands of miles of sea, they are loaded with moisture and first touch the cool heights of Western Ghats and later the Himalayas. It is then that the country experiences heavy rains all over. During a good monsoon year, the rainy season continues until the end of September.

Monsoon is welcomed by open arms by one and all. Before it breaks, the heat is high and intolerable. Day after day, the sun blazes down from an unclouded sky. The ground is like an oven, one can even bake a cake. The air is like a blast furnace, in many places water is scarce and both men and animals are grappling for it in the heat.

At last, when a thunderstorm rolls up with its lightning, thunder and wind, it is with great joy that the first spell of rain makes the magical change. The air becomes delightfully cool and moist; the sun’s heat is day-by-day moderated by the clouds, the dry parched land is quickly covered with green vegetation and life once again becomes bearable and enjoyable. Farmers now begin to be busy harvesting the rain for their next crops. Rice growing areas specially benefit from it, as paddy thrives in the monsoon.

The rainy season adds to the scenic beauty of Indian landscapes. There is greenery all around. Fresh new leaves begin to show as the plants begin flowering and even the fields become lush green. Perhaps the most poetic sight of all is watching the peacock dancing whilst watching the cloudy sky.

The appearance of the rainbow in the clear sky is alluring, more so for the young ones who rarely get to enjoy mother nature as much. Whether it be picnics, climbing mango trees to pluck the ripe sweet fruit or even join the adventure of floating paper boats and splashing water on each other – it has to be the best season for the kids. Mothers may try to protect their little ones but rains bring out the child in all of us.

Indian folk songs are rich with compositions about the rain. Traditionally 'Jhoola' is sung during the season by women, narrating stories of Radha and Krishna. Even if that maybe a lost art, singing songs with the family (even if they are from Bollywood) along with hot coffee or tea and different kinds of fried fritters is a definite high.

Plants and flowers add to the beauty in our gardens. And vegetables to the bounty of fresh healthy food. Animals munch on lush meadows. During this time, croaking of the frogs with the cluttering of the crickets adds music to the silence of night; however, the thriving of other insects is not as happy an occasion!

Swarms of insects, flying ants, flies, etc. multiply in great proportions. Mosquitoes breed in standing pools and bring in malarial fever with them. Terrible diseases like cholera, typhoid etc become a havoc, especially in the rural areas where getting medical aid may be difficult.

Also, traffic jams cause snarls all over the cities during the rainy season. But heavy rains affect the rural areas much more - floods become a common phenomenon in different parts of the country. They cause heavy damage to life and property. Houses collapse, taking away many lives as it has happened in Kashmir, Assam and other parts of the country. Communication networks are disrupted - with roads washed away and mudslides in mountainous regions. One part of the country is cut off from the other. Standing crops are washed away in floods. Due to damage to crops, the problem of food crisis arises. In the aftermath of floods, outbreak of diseases of different kinds presents a grim situation.

And yet the farmers face these adversities and pray for a balanced amount of rainfall every year – for the fear of facing famine and starvation.

Rain brings respite from the heat. It helps in the production of food for us and fodder for the animal. It cleans our surroundings and brings freshness all around. In an agriculture based economy like ours, a good monsoon ensures that the country thrives along with their farmers.

But the love for the rains is beyond just economics. The romance of getting drenched in the rain, the music in the raindrops on your window, the fresh cool wind on your face as you walk down with an umbrella, watching children play without a care – nothing else can bring about so much pleasure than the rain.