Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

India's Romance with Monsoon Rains: A Peep into Poetic Expressions and Personal Experiences

Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

India's Romance with Monsoon Rains: A Peep into Poetic Expressions and Personal Experiences

Article excerpt

The arrival of monsoon rains-dark clouds descending in rows making the sky look like the color of a peacock's feather, reverberating thunder announcing its arrival, moist-laden cool winds gushing in, its resplendent tunes making peacocks in the countryside welcome them with their "jubilant cries / To hail the friendly rain; / And spreading wide their jubilant trains, / With the love play of the kiss and embrace, / They hold their gorgeous dance parade" (RS 2.6), and suddenly, the vast sky opening up "To deluge the earth with generous showers; / And the lisping patter of the rain / Rings sweet to the ears of men" (RS 2.3)-though, is an annual feature in India, it appears fresh and fragrant every year. As a vertical sheet of water descends, it rushes at an incredible speed, as though to meet its mate-the scorched earth, and when the much-longed and long-awaited waters ultimately descend, the mother earth swallows the first ambrosial waters of the season with glee.

As the varsha ritu sets in, the whole universe sways in celestial joy-joy more out of the sudden shift from the days of furious sun that was ablaze making "...The earth oppressed with stifling heat / And enfolded in the circling dust storm / Raised by unbearable winds" (RS 1.10) to that of the cool breeze brought in by "the moisture-laden clouds fragrant with the blossoms of kadamha, sarja, arjuna and ketaki whom they mirthfully shook on the way" (RS 2.17). It is perhaps "the fresh earth-scented air" brought by the rains that evoked poets right from the adikavi (the first poet in Sanskrit) Valmiki to Sudraka of the classical era of Sanskrit; to the medieval Telugu poet, King Sri Krishnadevaraya; to the modem vernacular poets like Devulapalli to muse thus, respectively: "sakyam amharam äruhya megha sopäna pamktihhih / kutaja arjuna mälähhih alamkartum diväkaram" (VR2 3-28-4)-it is very likely to climb up the flight of stairs of clouds to bedeck the sun with the garlands of white wild-jasmines and red Arjuna flowers; "The clouds first darkly rise, then darkly fall, / Send forth their floods of rain, and thunder all / Assuming postures strange and manifold, / Like men but newly blest with wealth untold" (Mrich3 Act V-s26); "godugulu gäli külchi ... Vidhäta raksha vishamokkaka mätamhrutumhu seyutan"-As though they had grudge against travelers, / Clouds made their umbrellas fly away along winds! / As they were running with a mere stick in their hand, / The downpouring clouds drenched them completely! While they were shivering out of cold, / Their desires for their beloveds subdued! At times, when Gods wishes, Venom becomes nector!"4 (Amuktamalyada, Canto IV 129); "nallani mahhulu gumpulu gumpulu / tellani kongalu bärulu bärulu"5-swarthy cloud clusters and clusters / white-swan rows and rows. Varsha has thus been the throbbing heart of Indian life and culture since ages. Indeed, the pleasing arrival of monsoon showers influenced every element of our arts-painting, music and poetry-to a great extent.

Poetic exuberance aside, Indian economy is dependent on monsoons, as the oft repeated remark, "the Indian budget is a gamble on the monsoon"-that was said to have been emanating from what Sir Guy Fleetwood Wilson said in 1909: "I recognize that estimating in this country [India] is largely a gamble in rain"6-emphasizes. Monsoon rains that are said to scientifically spread from June-September as southwest monsoon and October- December as northeast monsoon (Kelkar, 2009) account for 80% of country's rainfall, and even today agriculture that accounts for 25% of GDP, providing employment to 70% of country's population, is just dependent on rains. A recent study indicates that the impact of severe droughts on GDP ranges between 2 to 5% of GDP, for drought has an indirect impact on the purchasing power of the large fraction of the population that is dependent on agriculture. Thus, critical macroeconomic facets of India are highly impacted by the vagaries of monsoon, which perhaps is an age-old phenomenon. …

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