The Six Seasons (Ritu) of India

While most of the western world organizes the year around seasons whose beginnings correspond to the various solstices (the position of the earth relative to the sun), in the southern Asian nations of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the year is divided into six seasons, or Ritu. While the solar solstices play a part in this organization, in the south Asia system the seasons are really ecological divisions.

The system is most commonly used in the northern part of this region, where the seasonal differences are more pronounced. 

This is a very ancient calendar system, dating back to the Vedic period of Hindu culture (1500 to 500 BCE). By comparison, the Julian calendar that forms the three-month-per-season structure now used in much of the world did not come into widespread use until about 46 BCE. 

Like the western system of four seasons, the precise dates for the start and end of the seasons make small adjustments from year to year, based on the solar calendar.  

 

The six Indian seasons classified in the Hindu scriptures are:

Vasant Ritu: Spring

Vasant corresponds roughly to the months of March and April. The vernal equinox occurs at exactly the midpoint of Vasant. 

Grishma Ritu:  Summer

Grishma ends with the summer solstice. It is a very hot stretch occupying May and most of June. 

Varsha Ritu: Monsoon

The Varsh (Monsoon) season is a very hot, humid and rainy season that begins with the summer solstice and runs through July and August.

 

Sharad Ritu: Autumn

Sharad (autumn) is the relatively mild period of September and October. The autumnal equinox occurs exactly in the middle of Sharad. 

Hemant Ritu: Pre-winter

Hemant (pre-winter) is the very pleasant period of November and December. It ends with the winter solstice. 

Shishir/ Shita Ritu: Winter

From the winter solstice through January and February is Shishir/  Shita (winter).

It is a moderately cool time of year in this warm south Asia region, and trees may even shed their leaves during winter.