The monsoon season is finally here! In India, the monsoons are a distinct season called as varsha, the Sanskrit term for rain. Varsha is also a common female name in India.
The monsoon is a welcome change from the humidity and harshness of the Mumbai summers. I used to experience the monsoons in San Francisco which would start in late November and go on till April. Every season, I would think to myself, “gosh, wait till you move to Mumbai, you will know what real monsoons are.” Forward to 2012, here I am in Mumbai, getting my first taste of the monsoons after a long, long, time. It is certainly a refreshing change, but can also be a painful experience where Mumbai’s infrastructure is concerned.
If you recall my horror in the first few months of moving to Mumbai where I described gaping manholes that (felt as if they) were strategically positioned all over so that you could fall straight into one and die…..now imagine my horror when I see the very same manholes, but this time they are filled with rain water, some of them brimming at the top. Now, add to that the fact that the roads are slippery and when you are running for shelter from the torrents, chances of slipping into a manhole are high. When it rains in Mumbai, it pours! It pours like it is nobody’s business, flooding streets and bringing trains and buses to a halt. I am sure I will have more to report on as the rains get heavier in July.
The monsoons are not taken lightly in India, especially not by the farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs. Their lives, literally, depend on it. In the course of many years, where the monsoons have been delayed or been weak, hundreds of farmers in India have committed suicide because they cannot afford to pay back the huge loans they took against their crops (that were to come). It is a pretty sad situation to see and hear of the anxiety and stress these farmers go through in anticipation of the rain. In fact, there are many parts in India where people will undertake sacrifices (yagnas) and rituals to invoke the Hindu rain god, Indra, the god of rain and thunder. Just recently I read an article where people in a village in the state of Lucknow undertook a 6 hour yagna, hosted by a Hindu priest, seeking divine intervention for the appearance of Lord Indra. Chanting of mantras, singing sacred songs, and making offerings to the divine, are some of the ways in which the rains are called on.
It has not been raining heavily in Mumbai at all….in fact, we have received very sparse rains in the month of June. However, something tells me that this will change and there will be drama in the skies in the weeks to come. So while I am complaining about the sordid heat that has out stayed its visit, I know soon I will be grumbling about the skies that won’t stop pouring. I shall wait and see.