Seasons mark the division of a year by changes primarily in the weather and number of daylight hours. They are caused by the revolution movement of the Earth on its orbit around the Sun. Official declarations as regard to seasons are mostly done locally or within a nation. Usually, the four-season model propounded by Europe is used officially throughout the world.
Since the United Kingdom placed colonial rule over various nations globally, this does not come as a surprise. However, living up to its traditions, India’s heritage ensures that the Vedic calendar still holds importance in the country. Keeping with Indian roots, the six-season calendar is diligently followed in India.
Why are seasons even important for human life? Many aspects of our lives, revolve around seasons. To add to this mix, India being a culturally rich country, ends up being influenced by seasonal changes even more owing to its various cultures and festivals. Being an agrarian economy, it is imperative that India keeps a close tab on seasons.
To add to this, being a popular tourist destination and having a diverse geographical topology, particular seasons attract tourists from particular countries. The vastness of India also leads to changes in temperatures and climatic conditions. Several factors such as latitude, longitude, altitude and topography come into the play.
With the diversity in India in terms of geography in particular, there is a dramatic change in the weather conditions across the nation throughout the year. While the general conditions are similar throughout the country, various possibilities exist. It is possible that one part of the country is having torrential rainfall in the east, whereas another part of the country is actually a parched desert on the west.
Further, the possibility that the north is blanketed in sheets of snow with temperatures going way below the freezing point and the south on account of being closer towards the equator is hot and humid throughout the year is the reality of this peninsular nation. This heterogeneity in the weather makes India a very popular tourist destination. Tourists can experience a varied set of weather conditions in a way that no other country can offer in India.
According to the Indian Meteorological Service, the entire country has been divided into around eight distinct climatic conditions. These areas are laid down below:
- The Himalayan range situated in northern India
- The corner of the Seven Sisters located in north-east India
- The Bengal delta region in east India
- The Indo-Gangetic plain situated to the south of the Himalayas and to the north of the Deccan plateau
- The Western Ghats which are slopes that run across the west coast of India
- The Eastern Ghats that run along the east coast of India
- The Deccan Plateau which is situated in central India towards the southern tip of the country
- Coastal plains
Due to this, making generalizations can be difficult. These regions have absolutely opposite microclimates at times. However, it is still possible to set up broad classifications since the nation as a whole lie in the torrid zone. The latitudinal and longitudinal extent definitely does come into the play while determining seasons after all. The division into the frigid, temperate and torrid zones ensures that a generalisation can be done. This happens since the weather zones shall generally have a similar temperature gradient all across.
Seasons are a law of nature. This was recognised long-back by Indian writers before the Vedic period itself. Historically, the writers noted that there were two months dedicated to a particular season and therefore each year comprised of six seasons in all. A lot of significance and culture has been attached to this classification. Governance of life around the Vedic period depended greatly on the seasons itself. Festivals that were celebrated with ultimate and unparalleled pompous during this time also see a keen regard to seasons.
The Indian Meteorological Department marks out four seasons keeping in line with the European classification whereas the Lunisolar Hindu calendar specifies six distinct seasons.
These six seasons are as follows:
- Spring Season (Vasant Ritu)
- Summer Season (Grishma Ritu)
- Monsoon Season (Varsha Ritu)
- Autumn Season (Sharad Ritu)
- Pre-Winter Season (Hemant Ritu)
- Winter Season (Shishir Ritu or Shita Ritu)
India and some other South Asian countries still follow the Lunisolar calendar. This calendar has been followed almost like a custom since times immemorial now and has formed an integral part of Indian lives. They lay the basis for the very structure of Indian lives and religious festivals were planned according to the prevailing weather conditions as well. These Hindu scriptures are compiled more in the northern parts of the country rather than in the southern parts.
Spring Season (Vasant Ritu)
The onset of March marks the beginning of the Spring Season in India. Considered one of the most beautiful seasons in India, with the blooming of flowers, luscious fruits, chirping of birds, the buzzing of bees- spring is an extravaganza. Seeped in historical works, spring embraces feelings of optimism and beginnings. Even the classical poets of Indian history, associated the season of spring with ‘shringara ras’ poems, to create an image and mood of love. These writings by classical poets greatly throw light on the ‘bhaav’ or the feelings behind the season. The poet Susan J. Bissonette says- ‘An optimist is the human personification of spring.’ The ideals of rebirth, rejuvenation and revival are deeply associated with the aura of this festival. The human community also shirks off its woollen layers and gets ready to take on the world with less baggage.
During spring, the Earth’s axis is relatively tilted towards the Sun and the length of days keeps increasing during such time. Its onset is marked typically by the melting of snow and increase in temperature after frigid winters.
The onset of March to the end of April is the estimate time frame for Spring. In India, the maximum temperature during this period is around 32⁰C. This period marks the end of the winter season and transition into the summer season. Rather than being based on strictly temperature changes, spring also takes into account the ancient Hindu calendar. Therefore, in spring, people tend to wear lesser woollens and finally start getting geared up for the torrid summers.
The weather is sunny and pleasant during this season. Average temperature usually ranges between 20⁰C to 25⁰C. A light woollen jacket is enough for this season. According to scientific research, the arrival of spring and the prevailing temperatures during this period are supposed to be the most comfortable for human beings.
1. Since the season is pleasant, the temperature is comfortable and if at all a light jacket suffices in the spring weather.
2. This is one of the few seasons in India that is not an extremity. It is easier for all sections of the society to tolerate this kind of a weather.
There are many festivals that are associated with the season of spring. Vasant Panchami is one festival that holds great importance in the festival of spring. It marks the beginning of the season and the day is considered auspicious for new beginnings such as weddings, housewarming ceremonies, etc. In April, the festival of Baisakhi is celebrated as the harvest festival.
With the blooming of harvests, it is no wonder that poets often write proses on spring.
Summer Season (Grishma Ritu)
The summer season as per the Hindi calendar is between the month of Jyeshtha and Ashadh. As per the English calendar, it occurs in the months of May and June. Summer is characterised by a sudden soar in the temperature. The soaring temperatures often may become troublesome for flora and fauna, natural formations and human beings. It is the hottest season of the year.
The Sun tilts closest to the Sun during this season. In fact, the Sun’s vertical rays are absolutely directed to the Tropic of Cancer which runs through the country. Consequently, the temperatures are soaring high. The days become long and nights are the shortest during summer.
The months of May and June are the hottest throughout the year. Depending on the topography, temperatures may go as high as 50⁰C. The weather can be so hot that it becomes unbearable at times. An important feature of summer that really strikes out is the existence of the hot summer winds called ‘loo’. These strong and hot winds blow during the day and are so fierce that they may at times prove to be fatal for people. Sunstroke in India is a very real problem and is just the beginning.
There are various problems that arise during such type of weather. For humans, dehydration becomes a common concern. In India, heat strokes be become very common. There are many troubles faced by flora and fauna as well. The high temperatures lead to drying up of ponds and lakes and a substantial fall in the water levels of rivers. Invariably, summers may prove to be a tough period for all living organisms in general. All of this being said, summers play an integral role when it comes to the ripening of crops. With the hot weather and appropriate irrigation, crops flourish. In fact, it is because of these ideal conditions for agriculture that India is an agrarian economy. Indians typically wear very light cotton clothes during summer and have to keep themselves hydrated to beat the heat.
- Since summers in India can be particularly hot, it is imperative to wear light cotton clothes and avoid nylon at all costs.
- One must remain hydrated.
- Taking baths frequently helps bring the body temperature down.
- Air conditioners and fans are used frequently in summers.
- People enjoy having cold beverages, ice creams, etc in the winters.
In the summer, all the locations which are situated at an altitude in India have many summer festivals. To beat the summer heat and showcase the slopy lands laden with flowers, there are many locations which are frequented by tourists from not just all over the country but from all over the world. The Ooty Flower Festival and Shimla Summer Festival are the biggest attractions.
Summer is extremely integral for the harvesting of crops.
Monsoon Season (Varsha Ritu)
Monsoons are traditionally described as a seasonal reversing wind which is accompanied by a corresponding change in the temperature due to precipitation. The contemporary definition of monsoon states that it is a seasonal change in the atmospheric circulation and precipitation caused due to the asymmetric heating of the land and sea.
After the intensity of the torrid summer, monsoon provides a much needed respite to everyone.
The impact of monsoon is different on different kind of terrains. Being a land of diverse topographies, in India, monsoon affects the terrains in different ways.
The monsoon season is very bountiful for Indians as it contributes to the healthy yields and crops for the year. This significantly contributes to the economic growth and progress of the country as well.
Monsoon behaviour is affected and influenced by various associated atmospheric, oceanic and geophysical factors. Typically, they occur in tropical areas. India is said to be a nation that is affected significantly by the impact of monsoons. The monsoons can be categorised into the Arabian Sea branch and the Bay of Bengal branch. On the basis of the direction of the winds, they are further categorised as Southwest (SW) monsoons and Northeast (NE) monsoons. There is a massive low-pressure area that is created in the central part of India primarily due to the excessive heating up of the land during summer. Due to this low pressure, winds come rushing in. The temperature difference occurs due to the existence of the heated land and existence of water bodies such as the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal causes this monsoon.
Monsoon begins in the month of July and August. The average temperature is around 30⁰C. This period marks the transition to the end of the summer season. All across the sub-continent, rainfall affects places as per the topography itself. The temperature is fairly pleasant during the monsoons.
The weather is wet, hot and humid primarily. The days start becoming short and the nights are very long. Owing to the blooming of the greenery due to the monsoon, this season is often also referred to as the ‘green season’. After the summer, rainfall provides a respite to the heat. However, excess rain leads to a drastic drop in the temperature and at times even a light jacket is needed.
- In the monsoon season, people carry umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain.
- With the wet season, there is a gradual decrease in the temperature. It sets the beginning of a steady drop in the temperature.
Among the numerous festivals celebrated during monsoon, Janmashtami in north India and Onam is South India are the most important ones. Janmashtami marks the birth of Lord Krishna, which is celebrated with much fanfare and zeal. Onam is very important for farmers who celebrate after toiling in the farms throughout summer. Further, Ganesh Chaturthi which is the premier festival in Maharashtra, is celebrated with pomp and fervour as well. Lord Ganesha, who is the remover of all obstacles is prayed for a period of nine days. The idol is bid farewell by being immersed in water bodies. All monsoon festivals include a lot of dance, food and singing. They are all characterised by bright and vibrant colours which offset the greys and dark blues of the monsoon.
Monsoons coming in brings about a blossoming of sheets of green across the sub-continent. The grass keeps growing owing to the relentless rain. Crops get a lot of irrigation due to the monsoons.
Autumn Season (Sharad Ritu)
Autumn is marked by a plethora of colours. It is marked by the falling of leaves and the beautiful shades of orange, yellow chrome and crimson. Autumn brings in the slight transition to winter. The season of Autumn sees a burst in colours especially in the northern parts of India. The fringes of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh see this transition the most clearly. The months of September and October primarily form the autumn season.
The Sun becomes less bright during this period; therefore, temperatures see a pleasant drop. The average temperature is around 33⁰C. It is an in-between season therefore is extremely pleasant. It provides a much needed breather from the erratic nature of winter, summer and monsoon which often tests the tolerance of Indians as the weather during such seasons can be very extreme in India. It makes life easier for those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
The weather is pleasant and comfortable. The days start becoming shorter and nights longer. The skies are clear and the water bodies become pristine as well. The natural beauty and happiness that is associated with this season is absolutely unparalleled. Since the monsoon has just gotten over, there is a freshness in the environment with a picturesque countryside and freshness in the city air.
All this being said, due to the in-betweenness of this weather, it is imperative for Indians to be mindful of their clothing and prevention from diseases. Further, the falling of leaves bring with them a lot of dust. This may prove to be a challenge for those with respiratory diseases such as asthma.
- The autumn is another in-between season and is therefore relatively pleasant, however is cooler than the spring.
- A light jacket suffices for this season.
This season of autumn brings many festivals such as Durga Puja and Diwali. Durga Puja is a Bengali traditional festival which is characterised by colourful ‘pandals’ and devoted worshipping of Durga Maa. Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the most popular festivals in India. Navratri brings nine days of festivities and worshipping of another Goddess in India. It is safe to say that this season is deeply associated with cultural rituals and festivals.
Pre-Winter Season (Hemant Ritu)
The pre winter season brings with it a moderately cold weather. There is a slight temperature decrease during this period. This season typically occurs in the months of November and December. This season is also called the fall season in other countries across the world. It is the season in which the earth cools down and there is rejuvenation.
The Sun becomes even lesser bright during this period and there is a substantial dip in temperatures. The average temperature during the pre winter season is around 25⁰C.
The leaves fall off from trees in this season. The weather starts becoming cold and there is a nip in the evening air during this period. By the evening, it starts becoming very chilly. The fall season marks the time to bring out jackets and woollen clothes as well. Clearly, by around the end of November, the weather sees a drastic shift. The drastic change in temperature also sets the pitch for winter.
- The pre winter season marks the beginning of winter. During this season, light woollens are required.
- People must pay close attention to their health at this time since there is a chance of catching a cold very easily during this time period.
Winter Season (Shishir Ritu/ Shita Ritu)
The coldest season of the year, winter season happens during the months of January and February. These peak winter months hold great importance on multifarious aspects. During the winter, the days are the smallest and nights go on for a long period of time. The sun is sparse during these months. Again, this loss in temperature also largely depends on other factors such as latitude, longitude and altitude in India.
After the retreat of the monsoon season, the average temperature gradually keeps decreasing as can be seen across the autumn and pre-winter season. During this time, the Sun’s direct vertical rays are more directed towards the south hemisphere that lies to the south of the equator. Therefore, all across the rest of the country the weather keeps becoming colder as peak winter approaches. The chilling winds from the Himalayas are further carried all across the country especially in the northern parts of India due to the ‘westerlies’. These winds are so chilly that they are successful in bringing about rainfall and snow along with them as well.
The average temperature during winters may be as low as around 10⁰C. These are the coldest months in India.
The weather is the coldest in the winter months. In certain areas of India, the temperature falls to up to 0⁰C as well and there is snow on the mountainous regions of the country as well. Whereas there are certain areas in India where it is sunny and normally the temperatures are around 25⁰C, particularly in the southern and coastal areas.
- Since the winters can be severe in India, there is a necessity to have layers of woollens for protection from the cold weather.
- On a macro front, the underprivileged sections of the society have a tough time during winter due to lack of access to clothes, roofs and appliances.
This season of winter brings many important festivals like Christmas and marks the end of a year and beginning of a new one. The chilly Christmas evenings are very popular across the globe. Influenced by the wave of westernisation, Christmas in India has become a huge event. Previously, this was not the case.
Each season brings its own distinct set of positives, challenges and quirkiness to lives. Due to the distinct changes in the season, it is imperative to conduct oneself according to the prevailing temperature and weather conditions in general. Lives are conducted very differently over the course of different seasons.
Clothing preferences are affected by the season greatly. Further, beverages and dietary changes are also noticed. In a country like India where there are many extremities when it comes to seasons, one must also take into account changes in terms of devices that may be required in case of change if seasons such as air conditioners or heaters.
Hope you enjoyed this weather guide on the seasons of India. If you have any comments or questions, please let share them below!