One of six seasons

Huddled in coarse blankets, with a bonfire and a handheld lantern for company, getting-chilled-to-the-marrow farmers keep a vigil on their standing crops, ready for harvesting any day. It is the shishir ritu, (शिशिर ऋतु) the winter season,( sekki) one of the six seasons of India and the coldest. Shishir means dew or precipitation. This time of the year is usually the foggiest or should I say the smoggiest! 

The month of magh(माघ), from mid Jan to mid Feb, is the eleventh month in the Hindu calendar. Each lunar month is further divided into two phases,(पक्ष) paksha.The bright phase (शुक्लपक्ष) shuklapaksha, lasts from new moon to the full moon. Whereas the dark phase (कृष्ण पक्ष) krishnapaksha, lasts from the full moon to the new moon. We are now in the krishnapaksha or the minor season (kō). It is marked by slightly warmer days but chillier nights.

Sun plays hide and seek
we shiver and sweat by turns
season of illness

The weather especially during this time can be very unpredictable. It can get very warm in the sun but indoors remain chilly thus often leading to sniffles and cold.

But I, as a homemaker-poet, have my own ways to deal with this. Ginger-lemon tea works very well to combat colds and coughs. The sights, sounds and smells that surround me in the capital city are my inspiration. My simple joys and woes translate into verses.

Seasonal produce is always better than out of season exotics. Mackerel is available in abundance and is best had drenched in spices and then baked to a lip-smacking deliciousness.

Baked mackerel

Greens are the mainstay of all meals. From mustard greens, spinach, dill, onion flower stalks to bathua there are plenty of local varieties to choose from. Then there are beetroots, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflowers, turnips and so on. Moreover we now locally grow broccoli, celery, asparagus and more. A favourite of north Indians is gajar ka halwa (गाजर का हलवा) or a dessert made of carrots and milk slow cooked for hours.

Gajar ka halwa (carrot helva)

We also have a plethora of winter fruits from oranges, kinnow, grapes (black and green), guavas, cape gooseberries and more.

Cape gooseberries

One of the major festivals of krishnapaksha is Saraswati puja or Basant Panchami, which falls on 5th February this year. It marks the birth of Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge.

The twelfth month, phalgun (फाल्गुन ) begins in the next kō and has two major festivals Shivratri and Holi.

Written for dVerse. Today’s host, Li, says:

The format for each  is as follows:
•the title of the Major Season or Sekki
•outline why it is called that
•the title of the micro-season or kō
•outline why it is called that
•write a haiku that speaks to the kō
•include insider information on the haiku and include information about the poet (you)
•seasonal fish, information about it, and including ways to prepare it
•seasonal vegetable, information about it, and ways to prepare it
•seasonal activity, often including the holiday or tradition involved, etc.
•a preview of coming attractions for the next kō

In addition, there are images of artwork, drawings, photographs, etc. of the highlighted

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to create your own major season and then a micro-season, or kō within it using the format above.

I have tried my best to give the correct information. If any of my compatriots find something amiss, please let me know in comments.

73 thoughts on “One of six seasons

  1. Ginger lemon tea! A big thumbs-up, add some peppercorns and some cardamom and cinnamon. Perfect for the winters and this year I am blessed (perhaps) to see my first winter in the foggy (smoggy) capital. As much as I miss the sunny yet cold skies of the north-east and practically summer down south, I will cherish this winter with all the greens and gajak.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely, those additions would keep the sniffles away. Despite all its flaws, Delhi has something for everyone. It is not like Calcutta which grows on you and makes you fall in love with it but it has so much to offer in green spaces, food and opportunities. I am glad you are enjoying the greens and gajak. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Extraordinary! And those baked fish…..mmm! All of those tastes and colours reminds me again of the different Indian canteens (as they called them) I used to go to in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, with each place specialisng in one area, or region, South India, Kerala, Bangalore, Hyderabad, so many tastes, so many colours, and the Malabar, I think it was called, the Kerala food, eaten on banana leaves, served by waitresses in their white saris with gold trims, Kerala style, that was just so nice…even with the tv sets blaring Bollywood songs, out of focus, on the walls! – I really, very much liked learning about the six seasons, was so very interesting. ILearning something new like that makes my day. Your haiku had that yin yang feel…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ain, I personally feel Kerala/Malabar cuisine is one of the best India has to offer. Some of their dishes are outstanding. Those white sarees with golden trim are called kasavu. I am glad you enjoyed what I wrote.


      1. Well thank you so much for telling me that Punam, I really enjoy knowing the details and enriching myself. I can never forget that place, simple, yet magnificent paintings of boats races on the wall, and the food…oh so lovely, but also the wonderful atmosphere. I used to chide and tease the staff, getting on with them so well…but you know, I worked with some of the very best people from India in Bahrain! I remember a good friend and previous colleague, Dr Raj, a woman well into her sixties visiting me up in the north of Scotland once…to travel so far, I won’t ever forget such gestures. These kind of things forged a deep everlasting connection.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Punam, I loved reading and learning about your seasons and appreciate the top image that brings them into order in my mind. Having the unpredictable weather, with the heat outside and the cool inside which can bring illness in the changes reminds me of summer here where the workplace is freezing cold with air conditioning but then you step out into the summer heat over and over and it has the same effect. I like how your seasons are based on phases of the moon and that you have a festival to honor the birth of Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge. Here we have no holidays to honor any females at all, let alone goddesses. I agree with Ain, the baked mackerel looks SO good, I’d love to get the recipe from you for it. I love your philosophy, Punam: “My simple joys and woes translate into verses.” Wonderful ko and great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Li, I am so happy you enjoyed this. I called my mother to verify a couple of things because Google can be unreliable at times. Yes, that chart makes it easy to understand our seasons.
      Yes, the onset of cold is mainly due to the difference in temperatures. We may not give women the same space that men enjoy but we do worship our goddesses from Saraswati to Durga and Laxmi to Kali!
      I will surely share the recipe, Li.
      Heartfelt thanks, Li. The challenge did flummox me in the beginning but I enjoyed putting it together. So thank you. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Punam, will you send the recipe to me at my email at ms_jade_li@hotmail? Or post it please? I wish we had goddesses and festivals to celebrate them with here. It would be a way to heal the community, I think. You are very welcome, my friend ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing your beautiful words in haiku and the wonderful seasonal changes with food as I’m warming up with my veggie, tofu soup and you can come cook for me anytime.. please.. x🤣🤗💖

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely beautiful post Punam – I thoroughly enjoyed walking with you through the seasons, the foods, the warmth of tradiational memories. It felt abundant to read of so many joys available to us, and the connection we share to the phenomenon of natuire.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful in a haibun kind of format! I learn something new all the time. The Indian restaurant we frequent (well, until COVID made it difficult) serves Gajar ka halwa. I loved it so much I asked for the recipe and they gave it to me!! I make it at least 3 times a year – it is delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I read the whole thing and was overwhelmed–I’m surely fired, as a competent Follower, hah! This is my fave pic: “My simple joys and woes translate into verses”–this is how I know & love you best ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love to read all this, it feels almost like travel. I have so many colleagues in India and sometimes we end up talking about food. I do try to cook a little at home, mostly the very simple and basic but one thing I always do and that is to mix up my own spices from the individual seeds. (or when I get it panch puran)… I sometimes do a very quick side dish by frying up panch puran in oil and then add cabbage (which is the best “fresh” local vegetable we can get)…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh! So you use panch phoran! That’s great. We use cumin, coriander seeds, mustard seeds (separately mostly) a lot while cooking vegetables. It imparts a very earthy flavour. I am glad you enjoyed it.


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