It is a time when the sky is heavily overcast

From this major form of megh are derived the six raginis of malhari, sorathi, sawani, kaushiki and gandhari. When the custom of visualising these forms became accepted practice, megh was represented as a dark, handsome man with formidable appearance. No surprise that the ittar-maker or gandhi then created that incomparable aroma of the first monsoon showers on a parched earth and called it mitti or earth Wholesale Shower Filter Factory that can be smelt in any season.The word monsoon comes from the Arabic word mausim, meaning weather. Dr Alka Raghuvanshi is an art writer, curator and artist and can be contacted onalkaraghuvanshi@yahoo. Paradoxically, the origin of the word for torrential rain begins in a desert that doesn’t even know the exquisite and sensual pleasure of a monsoon downpour! Origin notwithstanding, the monsoon has had a literally cascading impact on our literature, art, dance, music and architecture. It is said that Vritra, the cloud-dwelling demon of drought, held back rains once and Indra had to use his arsenal of thunder and bolts of lightening to defeat him in battle and push him out of his cloud-built tower. The seasons have a huge impact on me as a person and it is bound to show in my work. My act is in fact ‘very performance–oriented’. But the real smell of the petrichor or wet earth is after all the real thing! In the Baramasa miniature paintings from Rajasthan, the monsoon pictures have women perched on swings, white cranes flying across a dark sky, peacocks with the plumes fanned out, parakeets and blooming lotuses with the musicians singing the malhar or ragas of the rains.

On my canvas, particularly the larger one, colours engage in furious dance. One of Prof Niren Sengupta’s beautiful work depicts Krishna lifting the Govardhan as he plays the flute surrounded by the deluge.Kalidas’s lyrical poem Meghdootam — the messenger cloud — when a divine Yaksha is separated from his Yakshini by the gods, his pining messages of love are carried by monsoon clouds, is arguably the classic example of monsoon-related poetry: The sky on every side is shrouded by rain clouds which wear the beauty of deep blue lotus petals.Of course the kajris and jhoolas in the so-called light classical genre have been immortalised by Girija Devi and have the power to haunt as the incessant rain beats against the window panes."Artist Sudip Roy says, "I love the purity of colours and the impact they have on the emotional quotient. The space gets painted, in fact, sometimes over-painted. A particularly evocative one likens the bridegroom’s sehra woven from the fragrant jasmine flowers of the season and the lightening akin to the silver and gold zari of the cummerbund wound around his waist, the thunder reverberations from the gallop of his white steed And as the monsoon welcomes the festivals after the somnolent summer months, the midnight celebration of Krishna Janamashtmi, Rakshabandhan and Teej, with their own particular songs and swings, the phoolwalon ki sair winds its way through the streets of Mehrauli to the Jog Maya temple to the tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki For more than basant, it is saawan that is the true beginning of all things.. The viraha songs of the women who await the arrival of their beloved touch a new depth of poignancy as they are sung during the monsoon in Rajasthan, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. At the onset dhulia malhar is sung — as the dust or dhul still blows in gusts, the semi-dry harshness is interspersed with startling intermissions of welcoming raindrops.No wonder that Indra, the lord of the heavens, is also the thunder god and paeans are sung to him in the Vedas, for his role in bringing rains is perhaps the most proactive. It is a pure dance creating significant patterns of movement and rhythm covering space without overshadowing

It is a time when the sky is heavily overcast and rolls of thunder growl threateningly and its gripping aura suggests a somber depth. The logic is that it is not merely the ragas, but the swaras that dance to the rain. Everything speaks of rain without the painting actually depicting a shower!For it is said that rains had to be depicted with "ropes of pearls"! Some of the most evocative paintings from the Bundi, Bikaner and Jodhpur school of miniatures depict the moods of monsoon with Krishna and Radha enjoying the dark clouds and women on swings tied to mango trees and more such romantic imagery all sans a speck of rain! The monsoon months are clubbed together as Chaturmasa — the four months of Asharh, Shravan, Bhadra and Ashvin." The same is true of artist Shridhar Iyer who uses colours with great abandon and pizzazz yet with deep control and depth that he brings to his palette in terms of colour. Megh has the distinction of being accepted in all the four major matas or groups of raga classification.The poignant smell of the earth as the first raindrops fall is something that has inspired the romantic in all of us. And just like the intensity of the downpour almost like an arc, there is a distinct bearing on the placement of the ragas’ singing schedule. The various forms of malhars include the more popular mian ki malhar named after Tansen, gaud malhar, surdasi malhar, ramdasi malhar to the rarely heard jayant malhar, nat malhar and kedar malhar. The ragini Malhar is draped in white and sits on a bed of jasmine, holding a do-tara. Not merely shade differences of the tonal mood of the season, but actually different symbols and pictorial illustrations of the monsoon, megh is of a dark and serious mood. The two ragas of this season are megh and malhar.. She says candidly, "the rhythm and colour of Indian classical dance has influenced my work; it is not altogether surprising that I treat colour as performance. In his left hand he carries a naked sword, flourishing it in the air as if rending the sky to bring rain. Centuries later, Rabindranath Tagore would look at the monsoon sky and write:Lightening darts through the clouds, ripping them Dotting the sky with sharp crooked smiles Last evening I was at the exhibition opening of artist Nupur Kundu and was touched by her "colourscapes" that she paints with immense abandon and freedom, layering them and almost walking on them like a beautiful bird leaves the imprint of her toes on the wet earth. It is like dancing from one colour to another.

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