January 25, 2007

Uttarayanam: A time of hope, of new beginnings

Rajeev Srinivasan reflects on the season of hope

According to traditional lore, Makara Sankranti is the peak of Winter: after all, it marks the Winter Solstice, the Shortest Day, although it is late by a couple of weeks because of the precession of the Earth’s axis. In the Indian calendar, there are six rtus or seasons: vasantam, grishmam, varsham, sarat, hemantam, sisiram. I always find this a time to take stock, contemplate, regroup, and await the arrival of Spring, vasantam.

I remember the patriarch Bhishma, grievously wounded and resting on his bed of arrows, awaiting the arrival of the auspicious time of uttarayanam, literally the passage of the Sun to the North. For he had been given a boon that he could die at a time of his choosing. It is telling that, in contrast to the very European Dr. Faustus, who could never decide on the perfect moment, the very Indian Bhishma knew exactly what the moment was. India, in a way on its own sara-sayya, awaits its time to blossom again.

Read the rest of this entry »