The storied, psychedelic spring

by Tajnim Imami

Spring comes with the glad tidings of all that is blithe and beautiful. The sweet humming of pretty birds and the dainty flutters of butterfly wings bring about color and music to nature like no other time of the year. However, it is the soft, velvety blooms of the wild that make spring the royal beauty it is. Nature wakes up from its lethargy of cold, dark wintry days to the bright mornings on the months of Falgun and Chaitra. The fresh, crisp air carries the aroma of the blossoming beauties while the splashes of colors from their petals revive the forlorn frames of trees ravaged by the bygone season.
Quintessentially Falguni flowers such as krishnochura, kathalchapa, bokul, shimul and polash are ubiquitous in spring. Yet an abundance of jui, bokul, champa, madhobilota, modhumonjori, nagkeshor, debkanchon, korobi play alongside each other with equal brilliance. Champa emanates its intoxicating scent dressed in its pristine white beauty with a dash of gold. the creamy, fragrant romance of bokul harkens back to the legends of Krishna who played his flute under the tree enticing the milkmaids of Vrindavan.
Spring comes with an offering of fierce red flowers that flare like a fire that lights a warm hearth to burn away the cold. The glowing red of shimul, polash and krishnochura give the season its fierce color palette. The majestic krishnochura dazzles with flamboyant shades of red as its tiny, delicate, fern- like leaves sway in the breeze. The flared canopy of the tree provides a generous cooling shade under its gorgeous crimson awning of flowers. Radhachura emerges with its golden crown of striking yellow flowers alongside krishnachura lining the roads and highways with mesmerizing display of scarlet and gold.
With barely any leaves during full bloom, polash trees are the embodiment of flames that burn under the spring sun. In Hindu mythology, the tree is a form of Agnidev, the god of fire. His floral form is a punishment because he incurred the wrath of Goddess Parvati by disturbing her private moments with her husband Shiva. Thus, the bright red garb of polash is believed to be the captured ferocity of the god of fire. Poet Kalidasa described the jungles of polash trees to a blazing fire that makes the earth look like a newly-wed bride dressed in red garments. Poet Amir Khusrau compared the flowers to a lion’s blood-stained claws. An essential component of Saraswati puja, the flowers buzz with the humming of honeybees and twittering birds throughout spring.
Shimul trees shine bright like an upside down chandelier shining with large amber crimson blossoms of spring. In full bloom, the tree is likened to Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune, standing with her arms outstretched offering the radiant flowers like the warm glow of oil lamps. Also known as the red silk cotton tree, it bears fruits that burst open to release wispy little cotton wools with black and brown seeds wafting through the air reminding ethereal romance of the season.
Ashoka, also known as rangan, is a profusion of orange and scarlet clusters that slowly transform from a soft hue to a deeper shade from the heat of the sun. The tree has great significance Hinduism.
It is considered a symbol of love because it is believed that the Hindu god of love, Kamadev, uses its blossoms as one of the five arrows in his quiver. In fact, Kalidasa described the ashoka tree as drooping tassels of silk covered with coral red blossoms that bloom in the spring time and make women’s heart pulse with desire. The tree is also considered the guardian of female chastity because it is believed that when Sita was abducted by Ravana and taken to Lanka, she took refuge under an ashoka tree for safety.
Perhaps, one of the most welcoming sights of spring is the appearance of mango blossoms that herald a season of heavenly delights. The air becomes heavy with the sounds of buzzing bees, parrots and other birds that steal into the foliage of the tree to feast on the fragrant blossoms. In Hindu mythology, the mango tree is a symbol of love and devotion that also grants wishes. Like ashoka blossoms, Kalidasa also described the tree as one of the arrows of Kamadev. Paravati was married to Shiva under a mango tree so marriage pandals are festooned with mango leaves in Hindu wedding ceremonies.
As nature wakes up in its full glory during spring, so do the minds of poets and rebels with dreams of new beginnings. It was spring when the Bengali language was fiercely protected by martyrs in 1952. The call for freedom roused the nation in the wake of a spring season in 1971. The fire that ignites in nature in the guise of flowers also kindle the hearts of the people and therein lies the beauty of the season, transcending hearts, nature, history, faith and literature.

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