The six seasons: 4

Sharad follows varsha. Sharad is often translated as autumn, but this is incorrect. It is still astronomical summer in the northern hemisphere when the season starts; the sun has yet to cross the equator on its southward trend. This is what the British called Indian summer. It is an uncomfortable time, since the monsoon has left the air full of moisture, and the weather warms up again. At this time the weather in the Himalayas is turbulent, there are dramatic cloudbursts and floods, and passes are closed. But also this is a time when nature reawakens in the plains, with warmth and water in plenty. On the coast the monsoon storms have passed, the time of the spawning of sea life is over, and traditional fishermen take their nets out to sea in newly painted boats. The featured photo was taken in Goa.

On land, I would scour the countryside in this season with my camera for wildflowers and insects. This photo of a chocolate pansy butterfly (Junonia iphita) was taken in the comfort of a garden. Even here photographing insects involved keeping a steady hand on the camera if a mosquito bit it just as you were about to release the shutter. When you look around you, it is clear that sharad is not autumn. Nature is bursting into renewed life. The fruits of this season are specially sweet and flavourful, the late medieval imports of chikoo (Manilkara zapota, also called sapodilla, or sapota), sitaphal (Annona squamosa, known elsewhere as sugar apple), and Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana, which has no local name although it is so widespread). I love these fruits just by themselves, or in jams and ice creams, or in rum based drinks.

But most of all, this is the season of festivals. It starts with the Ganapati festival, and culminates with the Navaratri, or Durga puja. There is an almost continuous stream of festivals from Ganapati to Christmas. It is a part of the year when your resolve is badly needed. The weather is uncomfortable, and you are tempted to forgo the daily exercise that had almost come to a halt in varsha. And now there’s the tempting food, from the wonderful fresh catch of pomfret (Bramidae, also called pamplet or paplet) to the special sweets of the many festivals. Everything conspires to force you to put on weight. It’s the season to be careful.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. I’m amazed how interested I am in your description of this special season! I’m not known for an interests in descriptions of seasons, so I’m pretty sure it is your writing that totally grabbed me. I even want to visit to experience it. The writing is so vivid that I get curious about the actual experience. Which I’d probably like less than your writing šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, I enjoy learning about India through your blog. But when I read the sentence “This is what the British called Indian summer” immediately caught my eye. “So that is where it came from,” I thought. In the U.S., the phrase means an unusually warm period in the late fall. It never made much sense to me. When I looked it up on Google, I was referred to Wikipedia which just speculated it had something to do with American Indians or those I refer to as First Americans. Now I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Yes, I know that entry is marvelously wishy washy, but the weight of opinion about trivia in Wikipedia cannot be altered by facts or references. Probably the Dunning Kruger effect at work (for more technical articles, Wikipedia is much more dependable).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This part of the year is best for the festivals and that they continue till the new year. Not like we don’t have festivals in other seasons though. There’s a proverb in Bengali that says something like – months are 12 but festivals are 13 šŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

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