For the longest time, our understanding of the Summer Solstice (and Winter Solstice too) had been limited to the basic astronomical phenomenon. Simply speaking, on June 21st, the Sun travels the longest path through the sky, and that day therefore has the most daylight – Summer solstice. The importance of these key annual events for the human bodies has been a revelation. We love to reason and rationalize and not blindly believe the traditions. A chance hearing of ‘Uttarayan’ & ‘Dakshinayan’ at a religious discourse which we were unusually a part of, led to reading and research on the topic.
So how do the Solstices impact our wellbeing?
Traditional Hinduism believes that Uttarayan (winter solstice) is the beginning of the auspicious days and the next six months are for ‘enlightenment’ & all things good. Dakshinayan (summer solstice) is on the other hand the beginning of in-auspicious days and it is advised to be focused on ‘purification’. While ‘auspicious’ & ‘inauspicious’ are terms that have long been used to simplify complex subjects for the masses and get them to follow what is generally believed to be good for the human bodies & human minds. According to the Puranas, Dakshinayana marks the period when the Gods and Goddesses are in their celestial sleep but we do not understand the implication on our daily lives hence we let this just be.
Uttarayan or summer winter solstice is the harbinger of longer sunny days and shorter nights. The sun being the powerhouse of energy and symbol of fertility, nourishes our lands through the next 6 months adding prosperity. Apart from scorching us with the heat, the sun pretty much takes care of reducing traditional diseases and discomforts. ‘Dakshinayan’ (Summer Solstice) on the other hand is the beginning of the onset of the monsoon followed by autumn and winter seasons which see more springing up of traditional diseases and bodily discomforts. Ofcourse, the modern lifestyles and living conditions have moderated the impact these changes of seasons are supposed to have on the human body. Nonetheless, our bodies and moods (Shareer aur Chitt) are still connected with nature and if we deeply observe, we can see the changes.
Why is this a topic of discussion at Tattva Spa?
As the summer solstice just passed us by, our bodies need detoxification and purification through various mediums possible. To balance our Tattva’s, we need to make necessary adaptations to our lifestyles including eating, exercising and sleeping too. Incorporating a self-care ritual in your daily lives, be it a simple head massage or foot massage is a good way to help your body detoxify.
During our research, we tried to dig deeper and found that the solstices have deep implications across the ancient literature across various civilizations & cultures. During this time many Scandinavians travel to rural parts of the country. Midsummer’s Eve activities in Sweden include gathering around a flower-festooned maypole (majstång) to sing and dance, an ancient custom probably related to fertility rites. Before the holiday Scandinavians thoroughly clean their houses and decorate them with flowers and other greenery. In Denmark holiday traditions include singing “Vi elsker vort land” (“We Love Our Land”) and building a bonfire. Traditional foods, such as pickled herring, smoked fish, new potatoes, and strawberries, are served, along with beer and schnapps. It is amazing indeed how cultures and civilizations separated in so many ways are connected in ethos through the cosmos.
The universe and the movement of its participants (Sun, moon, planets & stars) impact human bodies in unimaginable ways. The science of it is intriguing and heartening at the same time.