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Sunday Special » Kaleidoscope

Posted at: Jan 8, 2017, 12:41 AM; last updated: Jan 8, 2017, 2:23 AM (IST)SUNDAY SNOW STORY

The ‘heaven’ too counts its blessings

Ehsan Fazili in Srinagar
It has happened — many say after years — and it is written all over, like poetry of the unsaid, a completeness of a divine expression, in Shimla, in Srinagar, in places heard, unheard. This snow is special, its all-enveloping embrace prompting nostalgia, its guiltless persistence so playful, so pampering. It invites, it shines, it bespeaks warmth. Welcome you, the snow! Need we say more? Get togged out as The Tribune hits the ground running
The ‘heaven’ too counts its blessings
Srinagar 0°C: The Baramulla-Banihal railway track in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, on Saturday. Tribune Photo: Mohammad Amin War
When the upper reaches of Kashmir were draped in snow and its planes drenched in rains this week, after a five-month-long dry spell at the peak of Chillai Kalaan, it brought back smiles on the faces of people in the Valley. There is enough water for irrigation, hydro-power generation and drinking for the next summer. For children, it is play time, so, snowballs are back and so is the snowman. 

The Valley has witnessed a good snowfall after eight long years, disrupting traffic and even making it difficult for the people to move around. With a respite in the snowfall, the roads in towns are made motorable by automobile snow cutters or manually by engaging labourers for snow clearance. 

In case of a heavy snowfall, Ladakh remains cut off for six months every year. Gurez in Bandipore also remains isolated for winter months, while parts of Keran-Karnah remain off limits in winters. The Srinagar-Kishtwar road passing through the high-peak Simthan Pass also remains cut off during the winter, while Mughal Road connecting the Valley through Shopian to Poonch district of Jammu has been closed to traffic for heavy snow at Peer Ki Gali.

Unlike the portrayal of spring and summer in Kashmiri and Urdu poetry, snowfall is only referred to as a sign of good season and a hope for a bright future. It is mostly found in folk tales and revelries. So, you have “Wande Chale Sheen Galle Beyi Iye Bahar” (winter will go away, snow will melt and spring will come again), “Sheena Pettou Pettou, Mama Yito Yito” (oh snow come and fall down, Mama (maternal uncle) please do come over) reflect the craving for snow in winter over the centuries in Kashmir. 

“Snow brings people closer in their homes as the winter (wande) signifies looking within oneself,” says Farooq Nazki, a noted Kashmiri poet and writer. When you have snowy morning, you greet, saying “sheen mubarak.” 

“In the past the snow was up to a man’s shoulders…his knees, but now winters pass without any snowfall”, writes Walter R Lawrence, Settlement Commissioner, in his well-documented discourse on Kashmir, “The Valley of Kashmir” over a century ago. The impression among the elders about snow continues to be the same even now. “The winter is a hard time for men and animals in Kashmir, and when wood and charcoal are dear, the poorer citizens of Srinagar are much to be pitied,” Lawrence writes at another point.

Says Sonam Lotus, Director MeT Department, Srinagar: “Our livelihood depends on health of glaciers and overall nature. If there is good snow, it is good for the future of Kashmir.”

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