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.

Fuzzy warmth (a haibun)

It’s the season of mellowness in the northern plains of India. Of snuggling in quilts and lazy mornings. Of pashminas and knitting. Of pickling and sunning.

The trees clothed in tattered leaves stand forlornly, the shrubs cling on to their leaves stubbornly. The temperatures are cold enough to take out the woolies and barring a few days of sunless shivering, it is a great time to be outdoors in the benign sunshine.

It is also the season of gastronomic gratification. Winter greens and lush coloured vegetables in abundance in the markets are any epicurean’s delight. Moreover the humble peanuts, seasame seeds and jaggery confections are everyone’s favourite munchies. Needless to say, hot, piping chai is the preferred beverage.  

The haze we thought fog
actually smog, marring
the winter skyscape

Written for dVerse. Today’s host, Frank, says: Let’s warm ourselves up by writing about winter! Write a haibun about this chill season.