Reminiscences 09 Poem by Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

Reminiscences 09

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Two Springs

I have already written in detail about the two monsoons that irrigate our crops. Now I am going to write about the two springs in Kerala, that make our lives literally fragrant.

In Kerala's lunar calendar, Chingam is the first month. The first day of Chingam is the New Year day. Normally this day comes on the 15 August or the very next day or so. Kerala's greatest festival Thiruvonam (or simply ‘Onam') comes in this month. We will dedicate one long chapter to Onam separately.

Onam is a harvest festival as it is the Festival of Flowers. During the run-up to Onam, on all the nine days preceding the Thiruvonam day, the front yard of every house will decorated with a floral ensemble called pookkalam in Malayalam. The flowers for this pookkalam used to be picked from our yards, fields and fences in our childhood. These used to be golden yellow flowers of Mukkuuti, simple white flowers of Thumba, pink mimosa flowers, red chembaruthi, yellow kolambi and kongini, white and deep blue flowers of shankhupushpam and sweet pink of roses, all in such abundance that it will suffice to decorate the homes of all children. The garden, the backyard and fences grow colourful. Nature revels in a riot of colours and fragrances. It is Spring! It is Onam season.

By the end of November the mango trees, cashew nut trees, jackfruit trees and many others start flowering. The intoxicating smell of these flowers embellish the cold meandering breeze. Rains are few and sunshine soft and silky.

When March gives way to April, so do the schooldays to summer holidays. By this time, mangoes, cashew nuts jackfruits and a host other fruits will be ripe to add flavour to our holidays and make our summer holidays sumptuous. Indian laburnum or Kani Konna (കണിക്കൊന്ന in Malayalam) starts to adorn itself with gold, of course borrowed from Goddess of Spring, announcing the arrival of Vishu. Yes! This is our second Spring.

Vishu is the second religious festival for Hindus. It is celebrated on the first day of Medom (or Mesham as is the term used in some parts of Kerala) . In the northern parts of Kerala, it is celebrated as the New Year Day. On the day, before dawn everyone would view a 'Kani', an auspicious arrangement of flowers, fruits and lamps. Kanikkonna is the most important flower in the Kani arrangement. And after viewing Kani, the day is celebrated by fireworks. And of course, delicious food follows.

Some day I would speak more about celebrating Vishu.

Thus, we have three springs, each distinct and different from each other. Though, I have captioned this episode ‘Two Springs'.

Dr Dillip K Swain 05 December 2023

the time when our mango trees, cashew nut trees and many other trees flower....a distinct and lovely part of the springs that the poet presents here. Liked this excellent poem with vivid descriptions of springs in Kerala in its totality.

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Thank you, Dillipji. Three Springs and two Monsoons make our land "God's Own Country"..

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Denis Mair 03 December 2023

How blessed to live in a land that not only bestows three springs but also marks each with timely flowers.

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Very true. In the early schooldays, the geography textbooks spoke a lot about different climatic zones, the sand-deserts, the snow-covered deserts, the prairies etc. so did the books like'And QuietFlows The Don". But I could not imagine that places could be different from mine.

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Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

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