I guess they are and they aren’t, depending on how you look at it. As an absentee blogger for the past few months, this is a beginning of sorts for me. Again. Would this start be considered old, then?
What better season than spring to contemplate beginnings, old and new? Tuesday the 20th of March marked the Spring or Vernal Equinox in the northern hemisphere of the Earth: essentially, the first day of spring season.
All around me I see signs of new life: pale green leaves unfurling, bulbs pushing shoots out of rain-soaked earth, birds shedding downy winter coats, the skies newly scrubbed and polished.
Most cultures around the world celebrate the arrival of spring in different ways. Where I come from—the southeastern part of India, where people follow a lunar calendar for observing religious days—spring means a fresh start. We usher in the season with a New Year’s festival called Ugadi (the word translates to “Beginning of a new age/era”).
Hinduism believes that a human life is full only if it experiences the gamut of emotions in the right proportions. On Ugadi, everyone—child and adult alike—begins his/her day by eating a mixture or chutney made of six ingredients:
- Jaggery, (similar to brown sugar, made from sugar cane) which is sweet, signifies happiness
- Bitter neem flower petals stand in for sorrow
- Thinly sliced hot, green peppers remind us of anger
- Savory salt takes the place of fear
- Tamarind paste (which is sour) marks revulsion or hatred
- Tangy pieces of unripe mango emphasize surprises
This chutney—a delicious explosion of bold flavors and textures—essentially is a reminder that life is a fusion of experiences. This tradition encourages everyone to accept what is doled out to him/her in life with equanimity.
Tomorrow, which is when Ugadi is celebrated this year, I intend to begin my day with a few spoonfuls of this chutney.
Do you celebrate the beginning of spring or the end of winter? If yes, please share the details with us!