Farming

Before early winter, Kashmir echoed with festive songs of harvest

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The hamlet is the last village in the southern part of which is known as Waadi-e-Lolab. In the land of love and beauty, the green is turning gold and songs of harvest fill the space in-between. [FPK Photo/Arif Nazir}

Be it the golden paddy fields full of buzz or the surrounding lawns of the small hamlets, the festive hands were reaping the harvest in what they believe was the ‘golden period of the year’.

His turn has taken a few days to come, even though he was expecting it a little sooner.

The fall slog is at its peak and only two of his cousins could join-in for threshing the harvest or ‘Daani Chombun’.

“Bismilllah,” says Habibullah Khan, asking his middle-aged cousins with a tough phase. “Begin from the right end.”

The delay has made sexagenarian Khan skeptical of the pace to keep up with the autumn harvest and the preparation for the long winter to come.

Habibullah and his cousin are seen threshing the autumn harvest or “Daani-chombun”. [FPK Photo/Arif Nazir]

“Threshing is to be done before this weekend only,” Khan affirms while his cousins begin with the first piled-up stock for the day.

Almost 120 kms from Srinagar in Kupwara district, Divver Enderbugh is twirling its golden countryside view as the autumn sun shines over its idyllic landscape.

The hamlet is the last village in the southern part of which is known as Waadi-e-Lolab. In the land of love and beauty, the green is turning gold and songs of harvest fill the space in-between.

The oval shaped vale ringed with mountains is proceeding with its ‘harudi-chaar’, which resonates in its vast golden swathes and small realm hamlets.

Be it the golden paddy fields full of buzz or the surrounding lawns of the small hamlets, the festive hands are reaping the harvest in what they believe is the ‘golden period of the year’.

The engineering of this technique beyond a poetic frame is to let air pass though the surface of the sun-dried crop for a few days, so while threshing, it falls unharmed. [FPK Photo/Arif Nazir]

The sun-drying of the paddy-heaps in the farms and the walnuts in the lawns make either place a little different but same farmstead.

Khan shouts for a rest to his cousins: “Kedew thakk raczha”. Rest for a while. It’s almost noon time.

Running his sharp gaze around, he seems satisfied that he isn’t too far from others. A couple of ‘Panzwaar’ are thrashed already.

For the next few it might take the rest of the day. Then will be the turn of big piles ‘Goanni’ or ‘Theapirr’.
Panzwaar is a small pile of harvest heaps rowed in three directions and piled-up in five layers.

The engineering of this technique beyond a poetic frame is to let air pass though the surface of the sun-dried crop for a few days, so while threshing, it falls unharmed.

Goanni or Theapirr are larger in size and stay for a longer time. The slant roof over them is a protection from rainy weather.

To check over the other side of the farms with his relatives and farmers, Khan steps up for a walk. “You carry on guys. I am walking over to Doedtrakh.”

For their own identity, the farm fields are named for one reason or the other.

The patch of land believed to produce the sweetest rice is called Doedtrakh or the ‘milk well’.

Few other patches surrounding it are Shalcheck, Gundsarr, Nulsarr, Shaalol, etc.

“These villagers while running hands in the farms sing ballads for their fallen — calling them romantics beyond scholars, leaders and warriors.” [FPK Photo/Arif Nazir]

On his way, Khan passes greetings to the men of the neighbouring village. These villagers while running hands in the farms sing ballads for their fallen — calling them romantics beyond scholars, leaders and warriors.

At Zuhur, Khan heads back to his farms. His tanned face lit up to see that neighbouring farms aren’t done yet.

After the autumn harvest, Khan looks ahead for the preparations of the long winter that include collecting the firewood, cleaning the farms, keeping the haystacks for the cattle, storing the grains and other ration.

At his farms, Khan sees his wife already setting things right. It’s a lunch time.

While washing hands, he asks his wife if she has eyes on the walnuts left for sun-drying in the lawn.
“I pulled them over towards cowshed,” she affirms. “The shade had reached them.”

Walnuts of Lolab, known for their quality and taste, are left to dry in an alley. [FPK Photo/Arif Nazir]

Lolab supplies one of the best walnuts known for their quality and taste. Their ‘snow white’ appearance has a high market demand and consumption.

But even though walnut production remains the main source of income for a big sect in the Lolab valley, the terrible times have made it difficult for the most to manage. They grumble over the fallen market prices in the valley hit hard by the back to back curbs.

But while others glower over the fallen rates, Khan is satisfied over this year’s harvest: “Shukur Rubbas kunn, setha fasil chu yuhus” (Glory to Almighty for the bountiful crop this year).

Farmers take a tea break as they rest against thaepirr, their days hardwork, in the paddy fields. [FPK Photo/Arif Nazir]

His chirpy conversation keeps the moods lifted in and around the farms.

“Days are short and one must run hands fast enough,” he assures men around of finishing the fifth and the last pile of Panzwar for the day.

The sunset turns everything pale and a cool breeze covers-up the desolation.

At this golden hour, the natives tend to quote the Poet of East speaking for the golden vale of Lolab:
Paani tere cheshmon ka tadapta hwa seemaab
Murghan-e-sahar tere fazaon mein hai betaab,
Aae Waadi-e-Lolab.

(Water of your springs is akin to restless mercury
While the chirping birds are twitchy in your air
O’ valley of Lolab….)

“One has to endure the winter with spine and slog.” [FPK Photo/Arif Nazir]

Ahead of him, Khan says, is a long winter when the golden landscape will be shrouded in a frozen white layer.

“But till spring comes,” Khan ends on a poetic note, “one has to endure the winter with spine and slog.”

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