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The Return of the Rains

This week as the monsoon has begun to arrive in Rajasthan we look up to the skies in hope that the rain gods will shower some heavy blessings across these lands and spread relief for all those who rely on their waters.

 

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The monsoon rains here in India have been one of the most popular themes of many a great Indian poets, authors and song writers. One of the oldest ragas in Indian classical music, Malhar is dedicated to the monsoons. The raga is believed to be so powerful, that if sung well it can bring about the best of the rains.

 

If the monsoon is a good one, India can receive close to 80% of its annual rainfall during the rainy season, which usually runs between June and September. Since such a large percentage of the population in India depend on agriculture for their income – the rains play a huge part in people’s prosperity. Only when you have endured the full test of an Indian summer, can you truly appreciate the blessing of the monsoon rains!

 

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The rains are a welcome break from the intense humidity and heat that boils up in the clouds prior to the monsoon- and when those torrential showers to arrive- they bring a sense of relief and a new lease of life. Different parts of India even have special festivals and celebrations associated with the monsoon.

 

The word monsoon originates from the Arabic meaning “to make a mark”, and term perfectly encapsulates the contrasting nature of the monsoon season. Here,  where our SUJÁN properties are located in Rajasthan it is very dry for most of the year round and we have one of the most irregular monsoons which makes every one who lives here look to the skies or listen for the auspicious trill of the Jacobin cuckoo (also known as the pied cuckoo) in hope that they will be blessed with rains that will support them for the coming year.

 

Monsoon is the lifeline that rejuvenates India’s countryside into a verdant bloom and provides a store of water that sustains its environment for the next year: around 40% of Indian farmland is solely dependent on the seasonal rains as these areas offer no other form of irrigation.

 

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Last year, Rajasthan over its 33 districts recorded a 126% of its Long Period Average.  SUJÁN JAWAI and SUJÁN The Serai both received excess levels in rain, so much so that the Jawai Bandh, (the reservoir close to camp) had to open its dam gates to relieve the building water pressure. Around JAWAI, there is a huge basin that collects all the rainfall from the monsoon and channels it towards the dam. This reservoir offers nourishing water for the farmers’ crops and the wild flora that fill the valleys, a refreshing drink for the shepherds’ livestock as well as the diverse fauna that inhabits the surrounding hills. It’s not hard to imagine how detrimental the effects can be if there is a bad monsoon, the effects on our eco system are severe. Too much rainfall can be hugely m damaging, causing flooding that washes away villages, kills animals both pastoral and wild and drowns crops and wild flora. Last year, devastating monsoon flooding alone affected 40 million people in India, Nepal and Bangladesh: destroying their schools, fields and homes and many families.

 

For so much of the year, the Thar Desert, that surrounds our desert camp The Serai, is a sandy Swarga but in the rainy months transforms into an organic oasis. Thirsty flatlands are exchanged for expanding grassy meadows and around the villages land imprinted with the memory of tilled furrows gives way to acres of sesame and lentils. Camel-herders come in the myriads to the brimming wells as they nourish their flock in anticipation of the camel fairs that come after the monsoons.

 

Unlike Jawai and Jaisalmer, Ranthambhore last year had received a deficient level falling below 19% of its usual rainfall. The three main lakes of Malik, Padam and Rajbagh had not filled their banks in their usual way and the effects of this were very obvious this summer as the lakes dried up and water in the park was scarce. The usual thousands of smaller watering holes that dot the 1300km2 area became high hundreds. The landscape remained a painter’s paradise with the scorched hilltops flowing into deep green valley’s however concern for the animals lingered over.

 

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The beauty of the rains transforming everything around you are something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. From smelling the aromas that fill the air as small pools of water evaporate off the hot ground and to seeing the plants and flowers regenerate. To that feeling of the heavy rain drops falling on your back and hearing the distant crack of thunder before seeing the brilliant flash of lightening as black clouds, overburdened with their load head towards you is truly exhilarating. The monsoon is a celebration of rebirth that everyone hopes will leave its mark until the season comes around again. We’ll keep you posted on its progress!

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