Although the Sharat, the third season on Bangla calendar and the Autumn in the northern hemisphere begin more or less at the same time, the season vary widely. Known as the Fall in North America, maybe because the deciduous trees shed their leaves, this is the season of barrenness, impoverishment, hollowness and emptiness. Leaves turn crimson as if they are flowers and gather under the trees profusely, creating a surreal world. In the southern hemisphere the Autumn begins in March and lasts up to May.
On the Bangla calendar the Sharat lasts for two months ---Bhadra and Aswin shorter by a month in other parts of the world. But this is no season of emptiness here or shedding leaves. It is associated with blue sky where patches of white clouds float listlessly or sail northward in competition with one another. Below on the bank of rivers or on the edge of marshy lands or water bodies or even any patch of fallow land, kash (a kind of grass) flower creates a dreamland of enchanting ethereal whiteness. Undulating with gentle breeze, the waves of whiteness these flowers create can perhaps be compared with dancing fairies in their white robes.
However, without Sheuli Sharat is unimaginable. Here is a flower that has been paid rich tributes by writers, poets and musicians. This flower is also white with a yellow mark at the centre which perhaps enhances its purity of whiteness even more. Its mellow sweet scent has irresistible appeal for all. If the clear blue sky with white patches of clouds, kash and sheuli flowers give the Autumn its specialty, they are by no means the subtle underlying tone and temper of the season.
Bhadra is a month of mixed bag of rotten heat (called palm-ripening temperature) with rains falling intermittently or at times heavily. The mood changes suddenly with the sky darkening and hazy clouds enveloping all around and then again after a shower, the sky becomes clear with the sun beaming its rays ferociously. In fact this is nothing but ground preparation for the arrival of mellow sweetness of Sharat.
Dew-laden Sheuli welcomes the Sharat at its regal best in Aswin. The morning sun and clear sky with the temperature becoming moderate enough, Nature looks so calm and pure that instantly leaves a sobering impact on human mind. Unlike the Spring when there is regenerative spirit at work, this is the time for poise and reflection.
In Bangladesh and West Bengal the Hindus have been traditionally celebrating Durga Puga at this time. Appropriately called Sharodiyo Durgotsab, it synchronises with the spirit of Nature at this time. Goddess Durga, although considered the incarnation of power, arrives as a daughter to her paternal house with her sons and daughters. This is unique. In fact here forces of Nature are paid the highest tribute and at the same time there is an attempt to forge a bond with those.
So the Autumn here is not marked by barrenness but deep inside one has reasons to be lonely. On a sunny day, one cannot be blamed for missing something that like an inviting tune of a flute can be more felt than heard. It is in the air and still it eludes senses. This year Bhadra has demonstrated all that characterises this month so far. It makes one nostalgic about the days in the 60's and 70's when this month was more or less like this. How Aswin will appear is not known. If it follows the routine of the past, it is likely to be sunny and clear.
If the Sharat becomes true to its nature, it will be great because seasons have been disrupted a lot by the climate change and they are not what once they were in this part of the world. Rediscovering the Autumn in all its mellifluous attributes will indeed be a treat for the people here. Let the people be ready to enjoy the mellow fruitfulness of the season.