In Hindustani Classical Music, the association of a specific time for performance draws from the relationship between the particular hour and the characteristic mood of the raga. Musical treatises state that the mood, or the rasa, of the raga is contingent on the dominant note of the raga. The twenty-four hours of the day are split into eight three-hour ‘praharas’. For ease of understanding, ragas in this section have been grouped according to the broad division of morning, afternoon, evening, and night ragas. Ragas sung during sunrise and sunset exhibit distinct melodic properties and have been represented in a separate sub-group. The ‘Sangita Makaranda’, dated between the seventh and ninth centuries, is the first treatise to emphasize the importance of ‘time’ in raga performance. The author, Narada, writes that “One who sings knowing the proper time remains happy. By singing ragas at the wrong time one ill-treats them. Listening to them one becomes impoverished and sees the length of one’s life reduced”.
Ragas have been associated with seasons since time immemorial. Festivals celebrating harvests, solstices, regional deities etc. were always accompanied by song and dance, creating strong associations between music and season. The six primary seasons are Vasant (spring), Grishma (summer), Varsha (monsoon), Sharad (autumn), Hemant (Pre-winter), and Shishir (winter). Medieval musicological treatises, such as the ‘Sangita Ratnakara’ (c. thirteenth century) by Sarangadeva and the ‘Sangita Darpana’ (c.1625) by Damodara, identified six fundamental ragas as representative of the six seasons. While these treatises vary in their raga-season associations, the most popular system followed was: raga Hindol (Vasant), raga Dipak (Grishma), raga Megha (Varsha), raga Bhairav (Sharad), raga Shree (Hemanta ), and raga Malkos (Shishir).