Grishma Ritu-The Summer Season in India

Grisham Ritu/Summer Season in India
Summer Season
The Months of Jyestha and  Aashaada extending from May 20th to July 20 occur during Grishma
The climatic charactistics of the season are very hot(up to 40 degrees centigrade and occasionally 45-50 degrees)
Seasonal Holidays-Vat Pournima, Rath Yatra, Guru Purnima

The grishma ritu, literally sweating season, is the second. It is the hottest part of the year, the sun being nearly vertical. The dust of the arid fields is frequently carried up in small whirlwinds, forming what are called pisdchis or devils. Nightly illuminations of the ghats and hills are seen, the result either of spontaneous combustion from the friction of bamboos against each other, or of a spark blown into the long withered grass which covers the slopes. The heat is intense and the air often still and stagnant. The sunset sky glows with the most fervid tints. It is the time of cyclones. Thunderclouds suddenly gather, and—preceded by storms of dust, which sweep impetuously over the surface of the ground, obscuring the view for miles,—the rain, accompanied with vivid flashes of lightning, close followed by startling claps of thunder, descends in large and distant drops, often mixed with hail. These short-lived tempests prelude the grateful bursting of the monsoon, and introduce the varsha ritu or rainy season.
Mysore in general

 By Benjamin Lewis Rice

We started the day with breakfast at home before school.  In the summer we would go home after school finished, have lunch, and take a nap in the bedroom using a khus tatti to cool the room.  Only the young kids took naps.  The adults and older children worked or occupied themselves in some way.  The khus tatti was a mat made of roots and fibers of some kind which would hang like a curtain in the door way and fit tightly inside the doorway leading from the bedroom to the verandah.  A slow drip of water would drip on to the tatti and the evaporating water would cool the room.  The principle of the khus tatti is similar to the principle of the "swamp coolers" in Phoenix, AZ, but they smelt incredibly much better!

A “punkah wallah” (Hindi punkah = fan) would pull the "fan" in the bedroom if there was no electricity, and if there was electricity we used a ceiling fan.  The punkah walla would lie in the hot verandah and pull on a rope, which would pass through a hole in the wall and move a thick carpet like piece of cloth suspended from the ceiling, which would then cause a slight breeze on the sleeping child in the bedroom.  I still remember with great nostalgia the wonderful smell of wet cool roots in the heat of the bedroom.  I think the punkah wallah was a railway employee who we borrowed.  
Life in the Plains

Desert Cooler Pads-Vetiver Tattis

Beautiful Article on the Making of traditional Khus Mats

Summer Winds of India-Loo

The Grishma Ritu of Mars is marked by a battle for available sunlight, space, soil and water--the stronger plants live, the weaker are overshadowed  and die or do not fully mature.

Musical Raga for Grishma is Deepak 


Ayurvedic Regimen for Grishma ritu


Summer Memories of India 

The Magic of Jasmine and Mogra in Summer
The women of the house had the art of making summer more romantic than what it was. Or rather they invented ways of spending quality time with one another in the hot season. They would gather in the evening to weave strands of jasmine for one and all.

Stringing of jasmine flowers is an art by itself which my mother had mastered in her youth. The right number of flowers, the right mix of sizes interspersed with buds and blooms, the heavenly fragrant downam leaves and twigs in between. From any angle you see, the strands are perfect in size, even in shape and the longest than anyone could make.
Most of the flowers would come from the desolate jasmine climber plant from their courtyard or would be brought from the cycle phoolwala that did rounds every evening shouting motiya-bahaar-bahaare-bahaar. The kids would run in all directions to catch the flower vendor and bring him at the door step. Then there would be the daily ‘yawn’ bargaining cycle over a few paise.
If the flower vendor was in a happy mood or pleased with us, he would throw in few twigs of downam with the flowers. That was considered an ultimate victory and we would proudly get the delicate fragrant wares inside. Summer evenings were indeed more romanchak than romantic.
Whats summmer without the mangoes…
Summer meant mangoes. No. Summer meant kids sitting around a huge cauldron which had mangoes floating and sinking in water. Rasaal, tota-pari, be-nishan, etc, were the more regular ones found in this cauldron where everyone eyed the biggest, yellowest, and the ripest mango in the lot.

Even the raw mangoes were not spared. While most of them went into making hot and spicy avakai pacchidi or aam-ka-achaar or mango pickles, few would be reserved for everyone’s favorite summer drink – the tangy aam-panna.
Anything for a cool sherbat in summer
Summer drinks were naturally organic, even before the eco-friendly hype took over. Nothing could beat the taste, simplicity and effectiveness of natural fruit juices, fruit based concoctions, and remedies for summer heat.

In those sultry days, the best guy on the planet was the ice-gola wala selling balls of crushed ice dunked with some weird flavored concentrate.  He always had only two standard flavors and sizes to choose from. Life was so much simpler then.
Next in demand was the sugarcane juice wala. Ganne-ka-sharbat in the afternoons was an exciting affair as the vendor would come to your house dragging his huge and heavy contraption on wheels, make the juice in front of you, and customize its taste with ginger or lemon. It was always a riot as none of us would have the same taste or preference. God bless him – for he always handed out to each one of us, the perfect sugarcane juice with perfect seasoning with right level of ice in it. Not to mention the falsa, nimbu paani, tarbooz and many other drinks that were a routine.
The then Khus Ki Tatti now known as Vetiver Roots Curtain
Khus – vettiver roots
are a natural air conditioner. The remarkable feature of these mats is that they can cool any hot room instantly putting any air conditioner in the market to shame. The dried roots of vetiver or khus are weaved together with coir rope, like a mat or a curtain for varied uses. You can hang those curtains outside your window or door and drench them in hotter hours in water.
Summer beauty remedies off the kitchen shelves
Beauty did not take a back seat in sweat then. There were hundreds of home remedies for sunburn, body heat, sun tan, giddiness, dryness, and more. Nanima was treasure trove of ancient remedies and she had the perfect cure for any ailment or concern. Clothes meant cotton and fashion meant Lucknow Chikan kurtas and Bengal Cotton Sarees. Look no further.
Summer beauty treatments were mostly about henna and multani mitti. Mehendi , a natural coolant, was applied on hands, scalp and married women’s feet. Multani mitti, also known as Fullers Earth, could be smeared anywhere on the body to draw the heat out. Kids had a ball watching thier mothers become mummies in 15 minutes as the clay dried on their faces and hands.

Summer grown crops are known as Graishmika

Drinks Recommended
Fruit juices and tender coconut water are highly recommended.
Besides these, Ayurveda recommends a few fragrant drinks to be taken more often to cool and revitalize the body during the summer months. Ideally, these drinks must be stored in a new mud pot and consumed cold.
The following are some of the drinks that Ayurveda recommends to beat the heat-

A. Panka:
Preparation - Mix 30 gm of jaggery in 1 liter of water. Then add a pinch of powdered dry ginger, cardamom and cinnamon and mix it well. This preparation is called 'Panaka'.
It is very soothing, cooling, nourishing, tasty and it satisfactorily quenches thirst.

B. Mantha:
Preparation - Take equal quantities of dried grapes, dates and figs. Soak it in the water for an hour. Then put it in mixer and churn it well. This preparation is called 'Mantha'. It is very soothing, has a cooling effect and is nourishing. It also relaxes and cools the system.

C. Raga
Diluted syrup of following is recommended-

  • Ananta (Hemidesmus indicus)
  • Kamala (Lotus)
  • Gulaba (rose)
  • Amra (Mango)
  • Draksha (Grapes)
  • Chandana (Sandal)
  • Ushira
  • Jambhira (Lemon)
The above are some of the herbs and fruits that can be used during summer. These can be made into syrup and diluted with water to be served when needed. 


Elixir in Heat / Pitta Problems

  Generally everyone likes rose flower, hence termed king of flowers. IF you wish to communicate your love to someone, simply offer a rose flower. Gulkand, a general tonic of Ayurveda, is undoubtedly the most delicious Ayurvedic preparation known to mankind. It is also naturally rich in calcium and has antioxidant activity. It can be used year-round by persons of all constitutions.
Gulkand Recipe:
Rose petals are used in making `Gulkand'. In a wide mouthed glass jar, arrange the layers of rose petals and sugar alternately using sugar twice the weight of petals. Close the mouth of jar and keep it in sunlight daily 10 AM to 4 PM, for three to four weeks and Gulkand becomes ready. The time varies depending on sunlight availability, season etc.
One can add silver foil, Praval Pishti, Cardamom seeds, Pearl Pishti (Muktapishti) etc. to increase the cooling or pitta pacifying properties.
Gulkand Benefits/ Uses of Gulkand :

  • Gulkand has been traditionally used as a cooling tonic to combat fatigue, lethargy, muscular aches, biliousness, itching, and heat-related conditions.
  • For those who do not know pulse reading, simply observe the color of the underclothes. If slight yellowish tinge is seen, Pitta exists. For people with yellowish foul smelling sweat from armpits, there exists pitta dosha in blood. This gets corrected by Gulkand.
  • Gulkand is highly useful in problems like Heavy menstrual discharge, white discharge in women. The medicines for these problems are generally given with Gulkand. It's aroma helps secretion of Oxytocin, the love harmone. Hence the flower is associated with heart. It increases `Sadhak Pitta', the constituent of the blood which strengthens heart, emotions, motherly affection.
  • Nose-bleeding, hemorrage, vomitting of blood and or bitter-sour pitta, excess menstrual discharge, frequent abortions etc are the indications wherein Gulkand gives excellent cooling. The rose has special properties. It is sweet, cool, pungent and yet slight bitter. After digestion it produces sweet (Vipak) juice due to which it shows very benificial effect on intestines, improving digestion and metabolism. In many cases, when pimples arise due to heat in the blood, the use of Gulknad removes the heat from the intestines. This removes pimples and old blemishes.
  • Rose is easy to digest, due to its sweet, pungent and bitter tastes, it has certain benificial effect as heart tonic. Its association with heart is already mentioned.
  • For children having worms in intestines, an ayurvedic powder `Vidanga' or `Vavding' is mixed in Gulkand and given to destroy the worms in a fortnight. Dose is 1 tsp twice a day for fortnight.
  • Gulkand gives cool feeling to nerves. In todays world filled with stress and strain at every point, it is a good tonic for central nervous system as well as liver. It pacifies pitta in blood, reduces constipation and strengthens all seven dhatus of the body, as per Charak Sanhita.
  • Gulkand also helps reducing hyperacidity. The heat in the Gastro canal, duodenum is removed by Gulkand. In swelling and ulcer of intestines, the acidity shows up in blackish blemishes on forehead, face, blackish circles around eyes, loss of hair etc.
  • Ayurveda describes rose as "Vrishya" meaning strengthening the semen. When semen has less sperms or sperms are getting weakened due to vaginal acidity, such couples will get benefits due to Gulkand.
Recommended dose: 1 tsp. in the morning, afternoon and evening. 

Health Care In The Summer (Grishma) Season

Recommended Diet: The recommended diet during this season comprises khir made from milk and rice, fresh fruit juice, shikanji, lemon sherbet, thandai and other fluids that are unctuous and sweet. These provide strength along with a pleasing satisfaction. Sherbet made with roasted mango tamarind or wild mangosteen along with jaggery and cumin seeds protects one against physical disorders common to this season. Shrikhand, though normally insalubrious, can be consumed during these days.

Consumption of old sathi rice, wheat, milk, butter and cow ghee is recommended during summers to keep the body cool, strong and agile. Amongst vegetables, gourds, pumpkins, nenua, pointed gourd, bitter gourd, flower of banana, chaulayi, green cucumber, green coriander, mint and amongst fruits, watermelon, muskmelon, coconut, sweetlemon, mango, apple, pomegranate and grapes are considered beneficial.

Insalubrious diet: Salty, dry, stale, hot, spicy, fried, sharp, sour, pungent, bitter foods like amchur, pickles and tamarind, etc. should be avoided. Never consume cold drinks, ice cream, ice fruit and canned fruit juices to alleviate the effects of heat. They induce acidity and therefore increases internal heat. They give rise to hemorrhagic disorders, itching, skin diseases and irritability.

Note: With the onset of summer, the pleasant atmosphere of spring disappears and the hot winds hold sway. Just as water reservoirs and lakes run dry on account of the scorching Sun rays, living beings also suffer from dehydration and become prone to diseases resulting from the dry and hot weather of the season. To protect the body against the harmful effects of this changing environment, it is very necessary to adopt certain changes in food habits as well as in the mode of living.

If you make it a habit to drink a glass of water before going out in the Sun, you substantially reduce the risk of suffering a heat stroke. Morning hydrotherapy is considered to be extremely beneficial during these days.

Staying awake at night should be totally avoided during the summer. It increases pitta. If, for some reason one has to stay awake, one should drink a glass of water every hour.

It is not good for health to drink water or wash one's hands, feet and head with cold water immediately after coming in from the hot weather outside. Take rest for a while and drink water only after the sweat is completely evaporated and the body has cooled down.

Your life-force is adversely affected when you move about in the sun bare-headed. So do make it a point to put on a cap or a piece of cloth on your head before going out in the Sun. During the summer months, getting up early in the morning before the sunrise and taking a morning stroll cheers up the mind and invigorates the body.

To prevent weakness and restlessness, that are natural consequences of the summer season, try any of these healthful drinks :
1. Coriander Drink: Powder equal amounts of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and aniseeds. Then take black grapes and candied sugar twice the amount of the above mixture and intermix them thoroughly.

Usage: Soak one teaspoonful of the above mixture in 200 ml of water. After 2 hours, squeeze it thoroughly with your hands and drink the sieved liquid. This helps reduce internal body heat, burning in the palms and soles, burning sensation in the eyes and urinary tract, acidity, headache caused by aggravated pitta, etc.

Use of Gulkand also alleviates the problems of burning sensation in the eyes, disorders of pitta and ill effects of excessive heat.

2. Thandai: Two spoonfuls each of cumin seeds and aniseeds, four spoonfuls of poppy seeds, four spoonfuls of watermelon seeds, 15 to 20 pieces of black pepper and 20 to25 number of almonds should be soaked overnight. Remove the outer skin of the almonds in the morning and grind all the ingredients together. Add 1 kg of sugar or candied sugar to 4 litres of water and bring it to a boil. Add a little milk and skim the liquid. Now add the above-pulverised mixture, one bowl of rose petals and the powder of 10 to 15 cardamoms to the syrup and let it simmer over a low flame. Let the syrup become thick enough (tested by taking one spoon of syrup from the container. If while removing the spoon three strands of liquid connect the liquid in the spoon to the container, the syrup is ready). Then sieve the syrup, let it cool and store it in a glass jar.

Usage: One can take this syrup during daytime or at least two hours before going to bed by adding it to cold milk or water. Apart from being aromatic, it is nourishing as well. It removes the accumulated heat from the body, soothes the brain and induces sound sleep at night.

3. Mango Pana: Boil raw mangoes in water. After cooling, crush the pulp of the mango in cold water and make a syrup. One may add jaggery, cumin seeds, mint and salt for taste. A glass of Pana is especially recommended in the afternoon. This is a traditional recipe of our country to maintain good health during the summer. This protects one from sunstroke as well.

4. Rose sherbet: A sherbet concentrate made by mixing one and a half kilogram of sugar with 100 grams of desi roses (not the red ones) is definitely more effective than the sherbets sold in the market. Saccharine, colours and advertisements add to the cost of the sherbets sold in the market. It is much better to prepare such sherbet at home. It gives relief in burning sensation of the eyes and feet. It is a soothing cold drink. If possible, boil a piece of wood from the Pipal (Bunyan) tree in the sherbet. Its cooling effect would be beneficial.

Soft drinks available in the market, such as Pepsi, Coca-cola, etc. are made from impious substances and contain a number of harmful chemicals. They may provide temporary relief but actually increase the internal heat immensely. They are but colourful poisons in attractive bottles. Therefore beware of such drinks.
Khus Sherbet recipe