Have you looked at the sky today? Isn’t it the brightest of all. I see a bright blue sky with white harmless clouds passing through with nice gentle breeze. In other words it is called Early Autumn or Sharat in Bangla. We Bengali people are blessed with six different seasons unlike the western world that has only four. Our autumn is divided into two seasons, early autumn and late autumn. The first part which is early autumn is Sharat. In Bangla calendar the months Bhadra and Ashwin are together Sharat, from 15 August to 15 October. Though there are sudden thunderstorms and dark clouds seen in Sharat sky, but mostly it is clear and fresh.
Tagore wrote beautiful songs on autumn, here is one of my most favourite..
Blossoms like a precious lotus-pond,
Indulging my muse
Out of my heart
Sunshine, twinkling, aureate,
Echos the clink of her armlets,
Are possessed by her veil
Heaving in the wind
বাহির হয়ে বিহার করে যে ছিল মোর মনে মনে॥
তারি সোনার কাঁকন বাজে আজি প্রভাত-কিরণ-মাঝে,
হাওয়ায় কাঁপে আঁচলখানি–ছড়ায় ছায়া ক্ষণে ক্ষণে॥
In another song about one of the prettiest blossoms sheuly Tagore writes:
Blossom of Shiuli,
My beloved blossom,
What an oversight
Was this on your part?
Oh, what illusion did the night breeze
Have in mind, to nestle you gently
At the foot of arbor-shades?
Yet ever so often
You die to return at the strike of dawn;
Why do you pine, my unmindful love?
Dew glistens in your eyes.
Is this your way of bidding goodbye,
Is this what your fragrance suggests?
Oh, with you, every passing moment,
Bokul blossoms too, flock to part.
শিউলি ফুল, শিউলি ফুল, কেমন ভুল, এমন ভুল॥
রাতের বায় কোন্ মায়ায় আনিল হায় বনছায়ায়,
ভোরবেলায় বারে বারেই ফিরিবারে হলি ব্যাকুল॥
কেন রে তুই উন্মনা ! নয়নে তোর হিমকণা।
কোন্ ভাষায় চাস বিদায়, গন্ধ তোর কী জানায়–
সঙ্গে হায় পলে পলেই দলে দলে যায় বকুল॥
Sharat means clear sky, big white clouds and freshness in the atmosphere. Sharat means celebration, the arrival of goddess Durga and many other fun activities. Sharat means kites in the sky flying high crossing each other. Sharat means light cotton summer clothes, bright flower prints. This post will be all about Sharat.
During Sharat we get various tasty fruits to eat. Palmyra palm (Taal), coconuts (narkel / daab), pomelo fuits (Jambura) grow in plenty during this season. The season is warm, thus these fruits keep us cool and also gives lots of vitamin to survive through the hot humid days. We also get dates during Sharat. There is a saying in Bangla that means, twelve season gives us twelve kinds of fruits and to stay healthy have them all in due time. I always prefer to keep seasonal fruits in my home, that works in two ways, one helps us stay well and second helps my son to know about the local seasonal fruits.
It is time for Kashful. White cotton like flowers bloom in plenty, around the rivers, during this season. They are the symbol of Sharat. Acacia, Kash, devils tree (cchatim), gandha bhadali, Pantha padap, cane, leuehea, water lily or shapla, sheuly grows in this season. When I used to go for jogging in Ramna Park, there would be beds of sheuly on the running tracks. It would make the place look serene and pure. Terminalia Arjuna also gives fruit during Sharat. Arjuna is widely used for medical issues like diarrhea, skin diseases etc. Devils tree has lots of nostalgia attached to it. When I was young, during this season, whenever I used to go to my uncle’s house in Hatkhola, the entry point of that street would smell crazily beautiful. I never knew why? But that smell got into my head. These days you don’t see lots of devils tree in the city. However there are few scattered around various corners of Dhaka. One day as I was passing DIT road I smelled that same smell from my childhood, I looked up and saw this huge tree with whitish green flowers bloomed among the leaves. I asked many people they told me it is Devils tree, in Bangla Cchatim. Since then I know Cchatim is my favourite tree. Shapla grows in almost all kinds of water bodies (ponds, lake, haor, bils) in various colours. Usually pink and white shapla adorns the ponds like sparkling stars with its beautiful blooms in this season.
Bangladesh is the land of tigers. During this season tigers give birth to their cubs. These cubs depends on their mothers for first six months completely, slowly they grow and become independent. I never knew this information up until very recently. There is so much to know.
One another reason behind so much love, for this season is, the festivities. This season is the time for all the major celebrations of Hindu religion. Durga Puja, Kumari Puja, Janmashtami (birth of Lord Krishna), Lakshmi Puja, Lakshmi Pat, Bishwakarma Puja takes place during Sharat. Also Buddhists celebrate Probarana Purnima in Sharat season. Old Dhaka Shakhari Bazaar, Mirzapur and Dhamrai are close places around the capital to enjoy the festivities. The Buddha purnima can be enjoyed in Buddha Bihar in capital and especially in Ramu in Chittagong and in other monasteries around the country.
Sharat is a time for flood. Thus break out of lots of skin diseases, stomach problems are inevitable. At least I get fever when the season changes. The hot humid weather is responsible for stomach problems, indigestions and influenza. People get sudden high fever with bad cold due to the fluctuation in temperature. Now, the days will be hot and humid, while the nights will be comparatively cooler. As we stay in AC rooms and whenever we go out we are in hot weather, thus this gives fever and cold to the body. Influenza shots might help to safe guard. Also drink fresh young coconut water, normal water and lots of other fluids to keep it well. While I love coconut water, I hate Taal, however I hear Taal is extremely good for health as it keeps the system calm. My mother-in-law makes nice taaler pitha for us also at times other nice taal items. In markets people sell taaler shash, the inner substance of taal to be eaten like coconut meat.
I know this post is turning out like an essay, but I wanted to write an essay on the seasons of Bangladesh. At the beginning of each season I would give a brief about the season so that, people know what to expect, what not to miss and how to get the best out of each season. This was initially written in my diary for my son, later I decided to write it on the blog so that, whoever reads is benefited.
Photo: Author, Shahana Huda, NB Mansoor, Ishrat Jahan, Udisa Emon.