Winter Season In Kashmir (Beautiful Or Ugly)

Winter Season In Kashmir (Beautiful Or Ugly)

April Is The Cruelest Month Of The Year)-T.s Eliot In Wasteland And Other Poems (1922) 

Winter in Kashmir has its own essence and charm. As it is important for Kashmir region with regard to various aspects like agriculture and tourism, It has been a belief that if there is no snow in winter season in Kashmir, the summers are surely going to be very bad for the people there due to scarcity of water and drought in the summer season. The white swath adds to the beauty and charm of the region and especially the mountains, valleys and plains have a remarkable view to offer us when we enter the valley from Jawahar Tunnel. A mesmerising beautiful view catches our eye and we get extremely overwhelmed and at once recollect the lines by a famous Mughal Ruler Jahangir who at the very entrance of that valley uttered:


“Agar Firdous Baroye Zameen Asto, Hameen Asto Hameen Asto Hameen Asto’’


Meaning in English “If there is heaven anywhere on the earth’s surface, it is here, it is here it, is here and it is here’’. The white serene beauty seems to touch the very soul of a human being. The scene becomes more attractive during the moon lit nights and when the sun appears after the snowfall is over the reflected light is at once a sight of mirage. Life is totally inactive as people are forced to stay inside homes. And the main concern is to keep ourselves warm with the fire pot (KANGRI). People are fully dressed and leave no stone unturned not to let cold enter their body. The dress up is very impressive as the people wear woollen clothes followed by a long gown called (PHARAN) in cashmere language. The elderly people wrap their body with a long Chadar (TSaadar) besides covering their neck with a muffler and putting on a traditional cap called (Jagar).So for as younger folk they wear all the above said clothes and a western type cap or a brimmed hat. Women folk wear warm woollen clothes, Pharann and a woollen scarf over their head.  So for as the food culture of Kashmir during the winter season is concerned, almost all the people use what we say (HOKHA XENE) dried vegetables combined with the other dishes like made of pulses, meat and leafy vegetables, during this winter season. Rice and Pulses ( Daal-Chawal) is the commonly found dish in every household of Kashmir. The sauce used in winter season is called (Muje Cheten).The traditional tea called Kehwa is a common sight in every household during winters as it has some medicinal value.

This is positive side of winter and let’s looks at the other side totally harsh in J&K especially when there is snowfall. The life halts as the activities are suspended to white coverage on the earth’s surface. The roads are closed and the transport halts. Govt machinery takes almost one week to clear all the roads. The most crucial juncture comes into being when the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway (NH44) is closed due to heavy snowfall at Jawahr-Tunnel- the highest altitude on the said highway after the construction of new tunnel at Naashri, Ramban. This closure of road results in the deficiency of ration stock, petrol, diesel, kerosene, LPG, and other medicinal requirements. Consequently the prices rise at once. The daily use items become too much costly. Now let’s look towards civic amenities. There has been a proverb in Kashmir that means in English: electricity takes a move to Jammu with the Durbar-Move. Electricity becomes a dream for the people of Kashmir almost for three months period and they wait for its return up to March. Same is the case with water supply. But thanks to CA&PD Department that ration stock remains available.

Health conditions of people remain adversely impacted due to cold air and especially the patients of asthma and other chronic disease like blood pressure etc. Elderly people suffer on account of extreme cold and the mortality rate increases in this season. Likewise the children folk suffer due to common cold, cough and fever. Financial implication of winter upon people is obviously negative as there is no earning opportunity and hence it makes the people suffer financially. Especially those who are dependent on daily waging/labour class of the society. Not only humans but animals also face the scarcity of fodder as there is no green grass/leaves available in this season so the farmers feed their livestock on dried grass or leaves. Consequently milk production decreases in the winter season. The naturally feeding animals and birds like dogs, sparrows, crows, mina etc. suffer on account of food shortage and a considerable number of such species dies in this season.


Before the invention of Radio, T.V and mobile phones etc. there was tradition of reciting books of Persian/Urdu/Kashmiri literature to entertain the people. The people who were well versed in reading such books were called daleel-e-gare. They used to read books up to late night and hence entertaining people. In this way people would idle away their time in this season. Although Eliot would talk of England of his times, I can trace a relevance of the quoted quote here with Kashmir as the season of winter is just a season of inactivity in Kashmir. And why April is cruellest month? The answer is simply that there is a process of generation in it.


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