If the gods were to be thanked for all the favours they have showered on Kerala, Indra the God of Rain, deserves the maximum. For, if you take away the bounteous rain, this verdant short stretch of land, Once called the Malabar Cost but now named Kerala with the sobriquet ‘Gods Own Country’ to boot, will die, almost instantly. Its green, vivaciously verdant landscape is wholly due to the rain that relentlessly lashes the land for well over six months in a year, albeit, in two installments, June – September (south –west monsoon) and October-November (north- east monsoon).
When the Portuguese arrived in early 16th century and virtually took over trade in pepper, many feared that it was the beginning of the end of Kerala’s monopoly in the commodity. The wily Portuguese, they thought, would finally start cultivating them back home.
“They may take away the vines” an unfluttered Zamorin, King of Calicut, wryly commented, but can they take away the njattuvela (south –west monsoon)”, subtly, but rightly, suggesting the crucial link.
Probably apocryphal, but it, nonetheless, underscores the magic of monsoon and what it mean to the state and its people. Even for the entire country, Kerala is the gateway to the sub continent. A good monsoon spells everything: bountiful harvest, healthy vegetation, plentiful water and a salubrious climate. In fact, rejuvenation therapy, the piece de resistance of Ayurveda, Kerala’s leitmotif in healthcare, the best done during the monsoon months.
Which, perhaps, explain the growing popularity of monsoon tourism. Time was when the inclement monsoon months drove away tourists from Kerala. Not any more. They have started coming in droves as much to enjoy the rain as to get rejuvenated. “Sunshine is delicious”, said John Ruskin, but hastened to add “rain is refreshing”. Kerala offers both aplenty.