Ritu (Sanskrit: ऋतु) is the Sanskrit word for season. There are six ritu (seasons). This word comes from the Sanskrit word – Ṛtú, a fixed or appointed time, for example – appropriate time for yajna or ritual. It is derived from the word root (ऋत) meaning “order or course of things”.
The body is dependent on the inputs from the outside environment for its survival. Soul, Mind and body derive their nutriment as well as aliment from outside. Human body as well as mind have a biological rhythm which is actively synchronized to the outside environment. The effort of body is to maintain the homeostasis (State of same conditions inside the body irrespective of outside environment), in order to preserve favourable conditions for bio chemical reactions.
The most important external factor for aging identified in Ayurveda is the seasonal change. The seasons tend to disturb the homeostasis (constant state of the body). That is why we have seasonal cough and colds. Although these small disorders help the body to overcome and adjust to the seasonal changes, they come at a cost.
Exposure to seasons guides the physiology of the body. Seasonal changes result in physiological jolts in the process of maintaining homeostasis in the body. These jolts cause minor diseases which are overcome rapidly by the body, but in the due course of time, these constant changes accelerate the aging process.
It is like getting your vehicle damaged at every sharp turn on the road and keep repairing it. There can be better ways! Foresight and right action (timely application of brakes) can help prevent the collision. The concept of preventive healthcare is just like having mirrors in the right place, proper steering and slowing down at the right time, in order to minimize wear and tear.
If we prepare the body correctly for the changes that are going to come with each ensuing season, there will be no crash landing from one season to the other.
It is interesting to note that according to Ayurveda, hunger, sleep and aging are considered as natural diseases. So the ideal state of the body will be where there is no hunger, no sleep and no aging!
Sun create seasons due to oval shape of earth’s revolution orbit. If the earth’s orbit were to be a circle, there would be no seasons and very little aging. But also there would be no variety of fruits and vegetables which comes with each season and balances the effects of their respective seasons. For example watermelon is the ideal fruit for summer, sweet and watery. So the aging process accelerated by the seasons can be stalled by proper food and lifestyle.
Seasons vary according to the terrain. On hill stations, winter will be of a longer duration and the 3 cold seasons – autumn, fall and late winter will be distinctly visible, whereas winter will be more like spring in the deserts. In the places close to sea, summers will be humid and not dry like in the plains. So the effect on the body and mind also varies.
Aging is normally slow in cold areas since the metabolism is faster than that in normal temperature. In cold temperature, body has to work more in order to produce more heat to maintain homeostatic condition; and aging happens mainly because of slowing down of body metabolism. So the cold climate is the healthiest, provided you have enough resources to survive. Of all seasons, Hemant (Late Winter/Fall) is the healthiest season also because there is no natural accumulation of any Dosha
The two factors for seasonal health – Aahar (Food) and Vihar (Lifestyle) are consequential to the external environment and the changes. Our successful survival on how appropriately and swiftly we can adjust to our environment. We are here because we were better than the dinosaurs!
Our civilization has emerged with complex social systems and options of lifestyle. Therefore making correct choices is crucial for comprehensive mental and physical health.
The months in Hindu calendar start depending on the condition of moon. Each month starts from 1 full moon (Pratipada) and ends in the other full moon.
Every season is of 2 lunar months. These seasons come with a gradual change in temperature and environment.
The names of seasons and corresponding English months –