Spring is bursting forth more with every day right now. I’m always reminded of this painting (detail above), ‘Spring’ by Lawrence Alma-Tadema at this time of year. The branches of blossoms you can see the people holding are everywhere, and though it’s perhaps mostly only the Hare Krishnas parading through the streets, singing and dancing, the warmer air brings a feeling of celebration and relief that puts everyone in a festive mood, regardless of their religious persuasion. It can perhaps only be compared to the start of the desperately awaited rainy season in hotter countries, where the first rainfall sends everyone out dancing in the street.
The relief I feel when the seasons take a turn for the better is very similar to the relief I feel when I am able to absorb myself in spiritual activity, especially kirtan. These kind of analogies are very common in spiritual literature. The effects of chanting the name of God are often compared to cooling moonlight, breezes, rain and sandalwood paste, or dazzling sun and heating fire. In order to feel relief from the bluster and scorch of life, we can find shelter in becoming absorbed in cultivating and celebrating our relationship with God.
The colour and music of this spring procession were equally present last week as we sang and danced down Oxford Street in Central London, in honour of Gaura Purnima. What wasn’t so present was the sun – rain fell at the beginning, middle and end of the two hour procession. Just as well we were dancing for a different reason. Hems were muddy, hair was soaked, but everyone was happy. Krishna and his names are eternally youthful and fresh, just as the fresh, new buds and leaves of spring. I don’t know about you, but to me, eternal spring = a pretty good reason to celebrate!