Every time, at this time of the year, in the month of Ashwin, the heavy, grey rain clouds start to pale and wane into fluffy white cotton candy and float around languidly across the azure sky. A mellow sun of the colour of molten gold starts to tilt and cast longer shadows. A naughty, nippy wind nudges the weary, worn leaves to pry themselves off their nodes and fly away with it. And I wonder how to name this season. This season is not Autumn, as we Bangalis, and most other Indians, have another name for Autumn, Hemant. This season of the light, crisp air heavy with the fragrance of the Parijat is better known as Sharat, a season Kalidasa describes in Ritu Samhara as the season of “nights with silvery and coolant moonbeams of the moon, ... and lakes with white-lotuses”.
It is Sharat when glistening diamond drops of morning dew crown each blade of grass; when the Shiuli lies strewn on the lush, wet green at the break of dawn; when the fields come alive with the Kaash swaying with the playful breeze; when the care free cotton clouds roam the skies lazily. It is Sharat, the harbinger of Sharodotsav that presages Ma Durga’s return home to us with Lakshmi, Ganesh, Saraswati and Kartikeya.
The Bangali, especially us, who stay away from home, during this extraordinary season we become a different being. No matter how much we denounce the nuances of our Bangali roots, the nippy, heady, golden days of Sharat make us nostalgic. Some frenzied few are already homeward bound while others ready themselves to usher in Sharadiya in the land they call home. I, for one, look skyward to catch a cloud, wait to catch a glimpse of a blushing lily, yearn for the golden touch of the sun. I, for one, lose myself in a flurry of festive activities to welcome the Anandomoyee home.