RTA-RITU - An Exhibition on Cosmic Order and Cycle of Seasons
RHYTHMS OF THE SEASONS
the great order of the cosmos, is born afresh in each Rta, season. In
traditional societies, humans do not merely observe the cycle of seasons,
equinoxes, solstices; they participate in, and recreate the pulse of
rhythm in their daily life. Each season is welcomed with celebrations and
festivities, songs, dances and myriad creative expressions. The coming of
the seasons is something more than a phenomenon given in nature. It
assumes the form of a convergence of ritual acts, spiritual events,
symbolic gestures and creative expressions. If adhered to correctly, the
mere participation in them brings the individual into harmony with the
annual rhythm of nature. This integral vision is based on the paradigm
that humans in order to be complete must recapitulate in their yearly
cycles, the larger cosmic flows.
and festivals are assertions of being and belonging, the reaffirmation of
order. It is important to acknowledge and participate in the cycles of
seasonal change. In performance and celebration we say: we are glad to be
alive, in us and through us, Rta is How do we recognize beauty? By what
means do we articulate the joy it brings us?
the worship of a deity.
song, in revelry.
feasting, in fasting.
explosions of color.
painstakingly decorating an idol.
dance, in sport.
some symbolic activity, like a dip in the river, or a
or tying a thread, or planting a flag, or
recitation, praise, hymn, chant.
veils, in garlands of flowers, in masks.
these are expressions of Sacred Order that we
from season to season.
Changya Upanisad contains an exquisite metaphor for the sun's
centrality to our world. Surya, it says, is the honey lodged in the
honeycomb of the sky that swings from the cross-beam of space. The very
essence of life is gathered into the sun, reservoir of light.
the earliest cave paintings to creative expressions in cultures as diverse
as the Inca, the Chinese, the Native American and the Mayan, the solar
symbol stands for natural order and cyclical regeneration in human
experience. Sometimes it is imaged as a King riding his chariot or royal
steed across the firmament, and sometimes as the regal falcon with its
India, the precise astronnomical mapping of apparent solar movements in a
schema of Uttarayan and Dakshinayana, solstices and
equinoxes, arose because the sun was understood to be the unwavering point
of reference which imparts periodicity and renewal to our planet.
Appropriately the wheel Cakra represented the embodiment of Rta in
moon on its journey through the sky complements the sun. The lunar rhythms
mark the natural unit, called the lunar month. The monthly rhythm of the
moon was utilised as a measure of time. The moon not merely measures time,
there is also a universal equation with the idea of resurrection and
perpetual renewal. Just as spring follows upon winter, flowers blossom
after the frosty season, the sun rises after the dark gloom of the night,
likewise, the crescent moon grows out of the new moon. The full moon
slowly disappears into darkness, to rise again. These phases are analogous
to the seasons of the year, and to the ages in the span of a human life.
For this reason, the moon's invisible phase correspond to death. its
rising phase to the resurrection of life. The rhythmic destiny of the moon
consists of reabsorbing forms and of recreating them. The moon does not
merely measure time and govern the rhythms of the tidal waves, the waters
and rain, fertility of women, of animals and of vegetation, but also
unifies them through its periodic rhythms. For this reason, a close
affinity is drawn with the biological order of life. The Hindus in India
and the Muslims in Arab countries have adopted a lunar calendar based on
the moon's rhythms. The month is divided into two parts, the dark
fortnight and the light fortnight. Certain days like the full-moon, the
moonless night, the eleventh day of the light fortnight, are regarded as
auspicious and are celebrated with great fervour.
the moon charts the monthly rhythms, the sun provides the natural unit for
the annual cycle. For the purpose of ordering the agricultural cycle both
the solar and lunar calendar were necessary. Therefore to keep the lunar
months approximately seasonal to the solar cycle, the lunar month of
approximately 29 1/2 days was made to synchronize with the
The luni-solar calendar was adopted by the Hebrews, Greeks and
Romans and remains in use by of the Jewish, Hindu and Chinese calendars of
sun hold us in its embrace.
Agriculture, the very basis of social existence, inevitably depends
on how closely human activity is synchronized to the sun-dependent rhythms
of day and night, local and general, cloudy and bright, tropics and poles;
repetition and rupture; weather and climate; upsurge and downswing; heat
and cold; eclipse and flare; light and dark; stars and moon.
Scientists are now seeking to predict long-term changes that may
occur in the composition and temperature of the sun, altering the
geological fate of our earth and the genetic make-up of its life-forms. So
long as the sun is in its place, upholding a stable and familiar framework
of order, we can count on the planet to sustain up and maintain vital
processes with its fertile energies.
Some of the loveliest ways in which the sun remind us of its status
as the lord of our world, are the flowers in spring, the birds of the
summer, the showers in the monsoon, the snows in winter. Festivals are a
means to celebrate the sun-related phenomena of reproduction, rebirth, and
integration which we experience in the workings of our natural
environment. In every culture, rituals are an acknowledgement of our
fundamental relationships to all that is around us.
Each gorgeous short-lived butterfly, each symmetrical flight of
migrating cranes, each burst of sea-form at high tide, each flash
thunder-storm, each swollen river spilling from hill onto plain, each
love-lorn peacock in full finery, each meditating forest reassures us that
inspite of death, decay and irreversible change all is part of an
inextricable rhythm of the world. We may participate in this pervasive
harmony as children partake of the mother's bounty.
variations in food habits are both a celebration of the earth's procreative
capacities and inexhaustible diversity of produce, as well as a token of our
acceptance of the natural cycle of panting, flowering and fruition.
our eating habits to suit what the soil can naturally offer rather than
what we might unreasonably and unseasonably we might unreasonably and
unseasonably crave, is also a practical response to changes and annual
repetitions in our nutritive environment. The rhythm of sowing and reaping
crops is yet another echo of Rta that has helped to stabilize human social
existence on earth.
Food patterns, like everything else in the biological complex, are
linked to the sun-to the time of year on a spinning planet, to temperature
and rainfall, to latitude and longitude. In an era of cold storage,
synthetic packaging, and year-round availability of all kinds of foods,
humankind is in danger of forgetting its vital connection to the luni-solar
principle. With artificial fertilisers, genetic engineering, and
monoculture, we are not only jeopardizing bio-diversity, but upsetting the
fine balance of our own health and longevity.
How to capture in words something as subtle and yet as powerfully
evocative as fragrance? The voluptuous but fleeting presence of Jasmine in
the ever-changing year whirling by. The monsoon sends its fragrant message
sooner than the arrival of the clouds; nights in the chill mountain air
weave their magical ambience with the sharp perfume of sap; flowers laden
with sweetness remind the birds and insects of that it is and spring time
to build their homes and renew their annual contract with life.
By a miracle that is better sensed than stated, fragrances at once
clearly demarcate the seasons, and bring to our attention the
imperceptible and diffuse nature of transition from one season to the
|Seasons and fragrances|
|FRAGRANCES & ITTARS||
Copyright IGNCAŠ 1999