Basant Panchami: The lullaby of spring...

Basant Panchami or the official beginning of spring heralding an end to winter is celebrated as Saraswati Puja and in the north of the country as a spring festival

NH Web Desk

Basant Panchami or the official beginning of spring heralding an end to winter, falls on February 10 this year. In Bengal, it is celebrated as Saraswati Puja and in the north of the country as a spring festival. In Pakistan it used to be an extremely popular festival, but the new government has clamped down on it as un-Islamic. They still fly kites there though.

In 14th century, Sufi saint Amir Khusro saw Hindus carrying yellow mustard blossoms to celebrate spring and he introduced it to his Guru, Pir Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, who loved the colour yellow. It is celebrated amidst much fanfare even today at the Dargah. The Moghuls continued this festival in their Durbars and some even wrote poems in Braj dialect for the occasion.

The Yellow Mustard Blossoms

Yellow mustard blossoms have covered entire fields.
The mango tree is in bloom,
The flame of the forest is in bloom,
The Koel bird flits singing from one branch to another,
And the fair lady decks herself
With marigold blossoms the gardner’s wife fetches for her.
The season is full of yellow flowers
That we carry to the door of Hazrat Nizamuddin,
Years ago, my lover had promised he will come visiting
And now once again the mustard flowers are everywhere.

By Amir Khusro
(Translated from Braj Bhasha by Mrinal Pande)

Spring

Forests look like beautiful women
All dressed up and competing for our attention.
And in between the blossoms,
See the drunken bees dart.
Suddenly someone may come from behind and hug you tight
And pleasure is doubled as we begin to sing Raga Hindol as one.
Spring season when the trees and creepers sway loaded with blooms
Is the best and giveth us both great pleasure,
It even helps win back a smile from a querulous love.

— Emperor Jehangir
(Translated from Braj Bhasha by Mrinal Pande)

Spring in the Durbar of Hazrat Nizamuddin

They come to wish you joy of Vasant,
To serve and win your love by playing the veena,
O Hazrat Nizamuddin, says ‘Mammad Sah’
May your Durbar be ever colourful.

By Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeele’
(Translated from Braj Bhasha by Mrinal Pande)

Benaras

Spring arrives suddenly in this town,
And I have often noticed when it does,
It comes from Lehartara or Mdyadeeh area
Accompanied by a dusty wind
That leaves the tongues in this great ancient city
A bit gritty…
Have you ever seen the spring
Descend into a beggar’s empty bowl?
This is how the city fills
And empties each day.
This is how each day
Shoulders emerge from some dark lane carrying another body
Towards a sparkling Ganga…

— Kedarnath Singh
(Translated from Hindi by Mrinal Pande)

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