Ritu (Indian season)

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Ritu (Sanskrit: ऋतु, Bengali: ঋতু) defines "season" in different ancient Indian calendars used in 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, West, and Central Indian calendars[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
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/Brahmin New Year, Hanuman Jayanti
2 Grishma
Summer Jyeshtha and Ashadha ~ 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
Monsoon Shravana (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 Sharad
Early Autumn Ashwina or Ashvayuja (Kwar, Asauj) 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 Hemant


Late Autumn Margashirsha (Agrahayana, Agahan) and Pausha (Pus) ~ 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
Winter Magha and Phalguna ~ 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, Tamil New Year, 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, Grishma, Varsha, Sharada, Hemanta, Shishira) 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


Mid-April Mid-June Boishakh, Joishtho Summer


Mid-June Mid-August Asharh, Srabon Monsoon


Mid-August Mid-October Bhadro, Ashwin Early Autumn


mid-October mid-December Kartik, Ogrohayon Late Autumn


mid-December mid-February Paush, Magh Winter


mid-February mid-April Phalgun, Choitro Spring

South Indian Calendars[edit]

Malayalam calendar[edit]

The Malayalam calendar or Kollam Era, a solar and sidereal Hindu calendar used in Kerala, follows a pattern of six seasons slightly different from North Indian Calendars.

No. Ritu Season Malayalam solar months Sanskrit solar months Gregorian months Seasonal festivals
1 Vasantam
Spring Makaram (second half)-Kumbham-Meenam (first half) Makara (second half)-Kumbha-Mīna (first half) February & March Vasantha Panchami, Holi
2 Grishmam
Summer Meenam (second half)-Medam-Idavam (first half) Mīna (second half)-Meṣa-Vṛṣabha (first half) April & May Vishu
3 Varsham
Monsoon or Rain Idavam (second half)-Mithunam-Karkatakam (first half) Vṛṣabha (second half)-Mithuna-Karkaṭaka (first half) June & July Karkataka Vavu (marks the beginning of Sharad season)
4 Sarath
Early Autumn Karkitakam (second half)-Chingam-Kanni (first half) Karkaṭaka (second half)-Siṃha-Kanyā (first half) August & September Rakshabandhanam, Krishna Janmashtami (Sri Krishna Jayanti), Onam
5 Hemantham
Late Autumn Kanni (second half)-Thulam-Vrischikam (first half) Kanyā (second half)-Tulā-Vṛścik‌‌‌am (first half) October & November
6 Sisiram
Winter Vrischikam (second half)-Dhanu-Makaram (first half) Vṛścik‌‌‌am (second half)-Dhanu-Makara (first half) December & January

Tamil calendar[edit]

The 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
Muthuvenil (Summer) முதுவேனில் Matured heat / warmth April 15 to June 14 Chithirai and Vaikasi
Kar (Monsoon) கார் Dark Clouds June 15 to August 14 Ani and Adi
Kulir (Autumn) குளிர் Cold / Chill August 15 to October 14 Avani and Purattasi
Munpani (Winter) முன்பனி Early (Frontal) Dew / Mist October 15 to December 14 Aipasi and Karthikai
Pinpani (Prevernal / Early Spring) பின்பனி Late (Rear) Dew / Mist December 15 to February 14 Margazhi and Thai
Ilavenil (Spring) இளவேனில் Tender heat / warmth February 15 to April 14 Masi 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]


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