Magha is the month when the sun enters Makara-rashi, the zodiac sign of Capricorn, when it begins regaining its earlier vigour and lustre. The nights are yet dark and long but with a brighter sun warmth begins descending on the earth and there burst all around colours and beauty on trees, plants, meadows and mountains in the form of colourful leaves, flowers, chirping of birds and in the songs of streaming rivers and fountains fascinating all to dip not merely into their waters but into the very spirit of the month which love and merriment define.
Thus, Magha is the month of Vasanta – Spring, which the Love-god Kamadeva, also known as Makara-dwaja – one who carries the ‘dwaja’ or flag, of the Makara-month or Magha, presides. Magha is also the month of Makara-Sankranti, when the sun enters the Makara-rashi, a great festival celebrated all over in India in one form or the other, when people take dip into sacred rivers, ponds etc. and worship. Magha is the month around which fall many ritual days of Vaishnavite and Shaivite worship including the Maha-Shivaratri. Magha is the month when nights are dark but brightened by a galaxy of innumerable stars and by the spirit of love and jubilation. Incessant sound of humming bees, forests and gardens echoing with sweet notes of peacocks, cuckoos and other birds, air filled with fragrance of flowers and scents emitting from yajna-rites, and melodies which musical instruments and singers’ throats produce while celebrating a festival or singing a hymn in the course of worship, further define the moth of Magha. Magha is the month when the lover would not let his beloved go leaving him alone, whatever her compulsions.
In miniature tradition the month of Magha has been represented in many ways, but more often as the Ragini Vasanta – melody of Spring, and as Vasantotsava. However, the artist of this folio, and of course the Uniara artist of the earlier series, did not confine his representation to a particular event or occasion. From the starry dark night to the trees and plants in full bloom the phenomenal nature speaks of Vasanta. Light suspending from high poles, temples and palaces painted and beautified, maidens gathered around the pond for a bath, some of them bathing, others putting their clothes on, and a senior damsel narrative to some of them the significance of Makara-sankranti, the events of worshipping Shiva-linga and the image of Lord Vishnu, and the royal personage, the prince or the hero, in the pavilion above, persuading his reluctant beloved not to leave and unite with him in love, all speak of the month of Magha, and of various occasions that the month of Magha comprises.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.