Winter in Kashmir: Traditions and memories


Posted on Jan 08, 2022 | Author DR. ISHFAQ JAMAL

For poets and literalists, winter has been a polarizing season, some love it and others hate it. But winter is interesting and one cannot be indifferent to winter. Winter poems, stories and art often involve sinister gatherings, misery, and death. Literature mingled with heartache and humility can easily take readers’ breath away. William Blake’s poem “To Winter” gives a negative portrayal of winter. His Winters Plot is an evil monster, who takes pleasure in torturing people and watching them suffer. EA Robinson in “New England” puts it, “Joy shines in the corner where she knits and the conscience always has the rocking chair”.

Winters in different parts of the world vary widely. In some areas winters welcome extreme weather conditions and in some places winters are pleasant. The winter cold is pleasant in the tropics. In places like Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, etc., winters can mean cool and cold air, hot cups of tea, walks in and around parks, and enjoying the benevolent sunshine. But our winters have a different story to tell.

As Arsh Siddiqui in his poem “Ise Kehna” writes “Use kehna December lautaaega magar jo khaun so jaega jismun mein najaega”. Go tell my love that December will reappear but the dead will never rise again, my dear!

In Kashmir, the winter sky is predominantly shaded gray, showing a veil of sadness. People should start to prepare well for harsh winters from October. The idea of ​​winters is always present in mind, even during the most intense summers. The economy, agricultural models and traditions here are mainly guided and influenced by the winters. All over the world, technological advancements have drastically changed the lifestyles of people. The economy, farming methods and models evolved, but in Kashmir the harsh winters and lack of facilities to cope with them somehow forced locals to adhere to centuries-old traditions.

More than any other season, winters seem to have a profound impact on our way of life and our culture. Winters here are steeped in traditions and memories. The only fascinating things in winter can be a walk in the highlands where wintry woods, leafless stems, crows, and breezy loneliness in the air welcome the wanderer. Those first accumulating snowflakes and the swirling snowfall from the sky really hypnotize everyone. But all the fun disappears once the heavy snow has accumulated and it stops life.

The Pheran and the Kangri have been here for a long time and seem to live with us until Judgment Day. They may have evolved over time, but the true essence of traditional pheran and kangri is hard to trample on with any form of cultural assault, thanks to winters that don’t allow us to leave these Kashmiri cultural marks behind. People cherish Kangri and Pheran as a symbol of culture and tradition. If given a choice between choosing Kangri, Pheran and modern heaters and international winter clothing brands from Ooshin to Quechua, ordinary people will preferably choose the former because of economic viability, intimacy with tradition and the harsh realities of the lack of facilities. like power cuts etc.

Many traditions like weaving rugs and grass rugs in winter and wooden sandals may have died out due to changing lifestyle, but some centuries-old traditions like sun-dried vegetables made from tomatoes and brinjals, sun-dried fish, etc. still find their place in different parts of the valley.

Things change quickly in this tech-driven age. Cultures change and evolve, but in Kashmir, winters are true repositories of many cultural traditions. Call it a blessing in disguise, the harsh nature of the winters has somehow kept people from adhering to several centuries-old traditions and customs, which otherwise would have been long gone.

(The author is a writer and columnist

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