Ritu (Indian season)

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Ritu (Sanskrit: ऋतु, Bengali: ঋতু) defines "season" in different calendars around the South Asian countries of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and there are six ritus (also transliterated rutu) or seasons. The word is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit word Ṛtú, a fixed or appointed time, especially the proper time for sacrifice (yajna) or ritual in Vedic religion; this in turn comes from the word Ṛta (ऋत), as used in Vedic Sanskrit literally means the "order or course of things". This word is used in nearly all Indian languages.

North, South and West Indian calendars(Nepalese, North Indian and South Indian )[edit]

Nepal and India observes six ecological seasons.[1][2] Southern parts of India experiences the seasons on a different schedule than the one depicted here.

No. Ritu Season Hindu lunar months Gregorian month Characteristics Seasonal festivals
1 Vasanta
वसन्त
Spring Chaitra and Vaishakha March & April Temperature around 20-30 degrees Celsius; vernal equinox occurs in the middle of this season. First spring harvest along with harvest festivals. Vasant panchami, Ugadi, Gudhi Padwa, Holi, Rama Navami, Vishu/Rongali Bihu/Baisakhi/Tamil Puthandu, Hanuman Jayanti
2 Grishma
ग्रीष्म
Summer Jyeshta and Aashaadha ~ May & June Very hot, temperatures up to 45-50 degrees Celsius; summer solstice occurs. This is one of the two typical Indian/ Hindu Marriage Seasons. Vat Pournima, Rath Yatra, Guru Purnima
3 Varsha
वर्षा
Monsoon Shraavana (Sawan) and Bhadrapada (Bhado) ~ July & August Very hot, very humid and heavy monsoon rains; begins with the lunar month AFTER the summer solstice. Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmaashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Nuakhai , Onam, Gurujonar Tithi, Mahalaya Amavasya
4 Sharada

शरद्

Autumn Ashwin or Asvayuja (Kwar) and Kartika ~ Late- September, October & mid-November Mild temperatures; 19-25 degrees Celsius; autumnal equinox occurs in the middle of this season. First autumn harvest occurs along with harvest festivals. Some trees in the Himalayas or upper elevations change colors much like in northern latitudes across the world. Navaratri, Vijayadashami, Sharad Purnima, Bihu, Deepavali, Dhanatrayodashi, Kartik Purnima
5 Hemanta

हेमन्त

Fall Margashirsha (Agrahayana, Agahan) and Pausha (Poos, Foos) ~ Late November & December Very pleasant temperatures; generally, 19-25 degrees Celsius; ends with the winter solstice. Some trees in the Himalayas and other hills complete shedding their leaves much like in northern latitudes across the world. (mid-Winter celebration)

Margashira Mahotsavam. Music Season with a number of Indian Carnatic classical music and dance concerts.

6 Shishira
शिशिर
Winter Maagha and Phalgun ~ January & February Moderately cold, but pleasant during occasional sunshine; temperatures may decrease below 10 degrees Celsius.This season is typical to tropical and subtropical regions because trees actually shed their leaves in this season in tropical areas; starts with the winter solstice. Shivaratri, Shigmo, Pongal, Sankranthi

East Indian Calendars[edit]

East Indian Hindu (Bengali and Mithila which too starts its new year from Mesh Sankranti, in fact, Nepali and Assamese and Odia Hindus too do the same, the season names are in all other in Sanskrit Vasanta, Grisma, Varsha, Sharada, Hemanta, Sisira) calendar. The Bengali Calendar is similar to the Sanskrit calendar above, but differs in start and end times which moves certain dates/days around (i.e., Vasant Panchami occurs here in Vasant ritu but in the calendar above, it occurs in Shishir as that is the Magha Shukla Panchami). The East Indian Calendar has the following seasons or ritus:

Bengali season Start End Bengali months English
Grishmo

(গ্রীষ্মকাল)

Mid-April Mid-June Boishakh, Joishtho Summer
Borsha

(বর্ষাকাল)

Mid-June Mid-August Asharh, Srabon Monsoon
Shorot

(শরৎকাল)

Mid-August Mid-October Bhadro, Ashwin Autumn
Hemonto

(হেমন্তকাল)

mid-October mid-December Kartik, Ogrohayon Pre-Winter
Sit

(শীতকাল)

mid-December mid-February Poush, Magh Winter
Bosonto

(বসন্তকাল)

mid-February mid-April Falgun, Choitro Spring

(South Indian Hindu) Tamil calendar[edit]

The South Indian Hindu Tamil calendar follows a similar pattern of six seasons as described for north Indian Hindu calendars which in fact need adjustment as taking new year from Grishma like that Bengali calendar....

Tamil season Names English Meaning Gregorian Months Tamil Months
IlaVenil (Spring) இளவேனில் Tender heat / warmth April 15 to June 14 Chithirai and Vaikasi
MuthuVenil (Summer) முதுவேனில் Matured heat / warmth June 15 to August 14 Aani and Aadi
Kaar (Monsoon) கார் Dark Clouds August 15 to October 14 Avani and Purattasi
Kulir (Autumn) குளிர் Cold / Chill October 15 to December 14 Aipasi and Karthikai
MunPani (Winter) முன்பனி Early (Frontal) Dew / Mist December 15 to February 14 Margazhi and Thai
PinPani (Prevernal) பின்பனி Late (Rear) Dew / Mist February 15 to April 14 Maasi and Panguni

In culture[edit]

The seasons are described in literature such as the Sanskrit poem Ṛtusaṃhāra written by the legendary Sanskrit poet Kālidāsa.

Names of the ritu are commonly used for persons: typically, Vasant, Sharad, Hemant, Shishir and Varsh are "male" names; "female" names include Vasanti, Sharada, Hemanti, Grishma and Varsha.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Feller, Danielle. The Seasons in Mahākāvya Literature, Eastern Book Linkers, Delhi, 1995, ISBN 8186339248
  • Raghavan, V. Ṛtu in Sanskrit literature, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Delhi, 1972
  • Renou, Louis. Sanskrit et culture, Payot, 1950
  • Selby, Martha Ann (translator). The Circle of Six Seasons, Penguin, New Delhi, 2003, ISBN 0-14-100772-9