Monsoon, a feature documentary by Sturla Gunnarsson, was shown as a part of the British India Film Festival. It was really a wonderful cinematic journey into a terrain where nature, belief, science and wonder converge. Gunnarsson apparently spent two years in India to capture amazing moments of pre- and post-monsoon effects and its influence on the country’s agricultural scope and livelihood of millions of people.
There’s so much nostalgia about monsoon for us since it arrives in Kerala first. As much as damage the monsoon-induced flood caused to agriculture and households, it brought so much festivity to our childhood. We used to play with water as muddy creeks took over the roads and homes. There used to be so much community gatherings to combat excess damages and to help people in deep trouble.
Monsoon spells had been so predictable during those years and we had more than enough water for all purposes. Times have changed now; we have been experiencing tremendous changes in atmospheric conditions which have affected the level of rainfall over the years. This year in particular, we have had much less rains in the south in contrast to other areas of the country.
Dr. Sanand Ratnam, an Ayurvedic doctor, talks about how dietary changes could sustain a healthy balance in our lives irrespective of weather. According to him, to gain the best out of this important season of the year, we should prepare our body to be activated in all areas like the circulatory system, nervous system, digestive system, lymphatic system etc. First step is a massage, and then intake of nutritious and perfect food which will do wonders to our body by reenergising every organ in tandem.
Some people would find monsoon food slightly boring since it doesn’t have excess salt, spices, meat or tangy flavours. Ayurveda suggests eating light food with fruits like mango, pomegranate and pear, and to avoid muskmelon and watermelon. Red rice, oats and barley are highly recommended to build body’s immunity system. It is recommended to have soup with a dash of garlic, and to drink boiled and purified water to stay hydrated and keep harmful germs away.
Altering food habits could bring a good change in our health as outdoor physical activities are restricted during monsoon. Steamed vegetable salads, seasonal fruits and herbal teas are recommended by traditional doctors during rainy days in Kerala. In the comfort of simple food and complete relaxation, you will just get rid of old toxins out of your tissues and regain absolute strength.
There’s so much to talk about monsoon in a village. Silent endurance coupled with imaginative rituals make our rainy season full of hopes and dreams. What follows is an incredibly beautiful new season with the arrival of Onam, the harvest festival. Nature dresses up beautifully in colours and fragrance of flowers, and aroma of Onam feast could be felt everywhere.
Monsoon touches the soul of our country with its magical energy, and millions of people still believe in its mercy for their food and survival.
The author is a London-based restaurateur who owns the Rasa chain of restaurants