Friday, July 12, 2024

Autumn in Thomas Moore’s land of ‘Lalla Rookh’

When farmers gather grain, nomads move down with herds of sheep and goats from highland pastures, Chinar leaves start turning yellow through crimson, grapes, apples and walnut ripen and sunshine becomes soothing to bask, Kashmir’s golden yellow season of plenty arrives.

Morning and evening nib in the air, clicking sound of the Cycada bug on the willow trees and the roar of the mountain streams turning into a gentle murmur as their crystal clear water flows into the Jhelum River are enough indications for an average Kashmiri to start preparations for the harsh winter that sets in by late November.

Autumn has rightly been called the queen of all seasons in Kashmir. Trout fishing in the streams, bird watching in the marshes and the arrival of thousands of migratory birds from far off lands are the hallmarks of the local autumn season.

An inexplicable silence surrounds the evenings in Kashmir during autumn as days become shorter and the nights become longer.

Walnuts are now being harvested by thrashing huge walnut trees with long sticks. Paddy harvesting is in progress as the grain gathering process involves, reaping, threshing, winnowing, milling and finally storage.

Due to human greed, Paddy cultivableland has alarmingly shrunken in the Valley.

Through authorised and unauthorised land use conversion, people have built houses, shops, automobile workshops and commercial malls on these lands.

The result is that 90 per cent locals are now buying rice from the government retail outlets. This has caused hoarding and profiteering in the locally grown rice which is being sold at exorbitant rates.

Autumn has always attracted foreign and domestic tourists to Kashmir. Dozens of fresh tourist arrivals are reported every day these days and the choice autumn destinations like Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam are witnessing a lot of activity.

People have started wearing woollens, although the traditional tweet gown called the ‘Pheran’ is still not seen in much use yet.

Vegetables like brinjal, tomato andpumpkin are dried in autumn to be stored for use during the lean winter days when supplies of fresh vegetables from outside become scanty due to heavy snowfall, road blocks, etc.

Autumn has always been the season of marriages in Kashmir and these celebrations are in full swing this season.

Traditional multi-course dish local feast, the ‘Wazwan’ is being relished by the guests as chefs called the ‘Wazas’ are in high demand this season.

The cackle of the ducks and swans, the clicking sound of the Cycada bugs in the trees and the arrival of the fattened sheep and goat from the meadows are a delight for Kashmiris as they make merry before winter overtakes autumn in Thomas Moore’s land of the ‘Lalla Rookh’.

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