As winter continues to torture us with biting chilly winds and frosty nights, it is with some relief that we can look at the calendar and the fast approaching festival of Basant Panchami with some relief. Delhi recently saw its coldest day in 118 years and it is reasonable to imagine that Meerut can’t have been far behind.
But the coming of spring and warmer days is not all that Basant Panchami brings up memories of in my mind. Having lived in one of the older parts of Meerut, I have seen kites flying in the bleak January skies, for around a month before Basant Panchami, and on the day itself, it is as if the sky has a blanket of kites. From big, almost 2 feet wide paper kites, to small and fast plastic kites, all kinds can be seen in the sky to the point where I did not even have to make an effort to catch the kites in my childhood, they would fall on my roof by themselves because there were just so many of them both in the sky and falling from the sky as a result of the ‘penche’ or the fighting of the kites.
I remember having a set of big speakers and blasting them at full volume. But not because of our choice, we just had to because almost everyone else was doing the same and so the sound of 5 different songs and yells of ‘Woh Kaate!’ could be heard permeating the air all around us.
It is also a very auspicious days for many people, as it is considered to be Goddess Saraswati’s day and it is thought that she likes the colour yellow. Basant also marks the ripening of the mustard fields and the celebration of the same all over our country.
I was in Pune for the last few years and have sorely missed the hype for this festival. Preparations begin weeks ahead with the sale of kites going up through the roof (pardon the pun) and some beautiful charkhis going for quite some more money than usual. This year Basant falls on the 29th of January and we can hardly wait! All the customs like wearing yellow or flying a yellow kite, the delicious meethe chawal, or the mouth-watering boondi ke ladoo bring up such deep feelings of nostalgia in my heart that I can hardly control myself from starting Basant Panchami early!
Jokes apart…get your charkhis, kites, and manjha/saddi ready, for this is going to be one fun and windy Basant!
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