“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ― Rabindranath Tagore
By Ashok Bhargava
VANCOUVER: Most of us experience relief and joy when a working day ends. The end of the day is time to change pace and let go. At the end of the day our bodies need to repair and replenish themselves. Simple acts of winding down and observing nature can provide us energy and lighten our moods. Doctors prescribe sunset walks for health benefits. There’s some kind of magic that happens when the sun drifts down. The world seems to glow with bright lights and brilliant colors just before the darkness sets in. The sunset can be enjoyed from mountaintops to ocean sides and everywhere in between.
There are many different ways to relieve stress. One is coming home to a quiet, relaxed atmosphere and to spend some time with the kids. Another way to loosen up is to go on a nature walk at sunset when the surroundings are calm and inspiring.
Yet another way is to go to the gym for a workout. Each of these activities helps increase our heart rates, quiet our minds, and allow us to let go physically and emotionally. We can also release stress by reading a good book or listening to calming music or spending time with loved ones. A soothing sunset helps cleanse the body of daily stress. Its conjecture is more powerful and timeless than other ways of releasing stress. Its colorful grandiosity offers a sense of spirituality and restores our balance through its beauty and intimacy. The wonderstruck sunset sky can evaporate our worries, dissolve our egos and make us become one with nature.
In India, Hindus have worshipped the Sun as the source of life giving energy for centuries. They go to the rivers, oceans and mountaintops to offer prayers to the Sun God at the sunrise and the sunset. One such place of pilgrimage is Kanya Kumari because of its stunning sunsets. I remember once taking a short walk to a local beach from my hotel and was blessed with an extremely gorgeous sunset that covered the old mansions and a cluster of temples in the area with its magical light. My camera could not capture the charged ambience of the sky’s kaleidoscope of pinks, oranges and blues that enveloped these low lying, whitewashed buildings. Once the sun started going down, there was sound of conch shell blowing, I could hear the hymns chanted at the nearby temples. It was ethereal.
Kanya Kumari is India’s Land’s End, the tip of peninsular India where the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea meet. The confluence of these three waters is also referred as ‘Thriveni Sangamam’. Its breathtaking views of Sunrise and the Sunset and its long stretches of sands of many hues are unique and awesome. From a nearby lighthouse with a spectacular view of the endless sky, Hindu devotees worship the Sun by standing knee deep in the water. this is simply unforgettable. My mother always talked about finding joy in small moments and insisted that we stop and take in the beauty of an ordinary day. When I stop to see a sunset, no matter where I am, I hear my mother’s voice and smile. When I admire the wonders of a sunset, my soul expands, my senses energize and my mind calms down.
On a clear night, when the sun sets in Cochin, a rainbow of colors infuses the sky. The brilliant shades reflect off the fishing boats in the Arabian Sea. It is a kaleidoscopic display. When the sun finally disappears below the horizon line, leaving the sky a royal blue hue, the city lights flicker and cast their glow on the placid Chinese fishing nets.
From any given place in Jaisalmer desert in Rajasthan, the beauty of sunset is so great that you might think you’re looking at a mirage. The setting sun looks like a slowly descending burning ball that casts its orange light throughout the barren landscape until gradually fading into blue. I have been fortunate to enjoy bright, neon pink hues streak the blue sky as the sun descends below the horizon in Victoria BC. I used to find a spot on a bench at the nearby Inner Harbor to view the psychedelic sunset. The carefully groomed grounds and giant arbutus trees seemed to glorify the Empress Hotel building at this hour. The sunset sky, a canvas of orange and red, often made my heart soar.
English Bay which separates Burrard Inlet from False Creek is the most popular sunbathing, swimming, and sunset-watching beach in the downtown Vancouver area. Other downtown beaches facing English Bay include Sunset Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach. It is an interesting place to catch the sunset in Vancouver. The setting sun’s rays illuminate parts of the nearby Stanley Park in bright oranges and yellows. This contrasting effect is arresting. When the sun’s rays radiate across the waves and sands, the beach looks almost extraterrestrial.
There are numerous places on the planet earth from where you can enjoy a sunset such as your balcony, your backyard or a vantage point in the city where you live. I have seen sunsets in Hawaii, Los Angeles, Boston, Orlando, Oregon cost, Seattle, Mumbai, Manila, Seoul, Pusan, London and Glasgow. To me, the beauty of these colors defies logic as the sun falls off the edge of the world every day.
To summarize, let us appreciate the beauty of the sunrise and sunset and explore the meaning of an ancient Sanskrit mantra called Gayatri that first appeared in the Rig Veda, thousands years ago. It says let us meditate on the light of the sun so that it may inspire our thoughts. Life does not await permission to proceed. Let’s begin living alongside the sunrise and sunset.
(Ashok Bhargava is president of Writers International Network or WIN, Canada)