Harud in Kashmir

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Kashmir is known as the Paradise of Earth for no other reason than the mesmerizing beauty it casts in all four seasons of the year. Be it spring, summer, autumn or winter, there is a spell binding beauty around everywhere. Though spring comes in the floral blossoms of charm, while summers flourish in lush green color charm, breath taking snow fall in winter prime, the autumn comes in an essence of brazen charm that no one in love with life can ignore.

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.  

John Donne

Let me walk you through the life romancing season of Kashmir, that sets all Kashmiri’s into the winter prep zone of age old effective traditions while feeding their soul with faith and hope of a new life!

Autumn in Kashmir begins in the mid of September with green leaves turning slowly into yellow gold. Rice harvest begins setting off the harud (autumn) spirit. A cold breeze fills the air in the mornings and evenings bidding a silent farewell to the summer heat. In November the chill spreads across the day with golden rusty Chinar leaves falling off the trees. Ah! What a sight is that for the eyes that crave the beauty of colors; the autumnal shades are an inspiring treat.

Autumn Festive Food

With the onset of autumn the markets are filled with the hokh syuen (dried foods) that have been sun dried in the summer months. Popular hokh syuen include the runwangan hachhe (tomatoes), al hachhe (bottle gourd), wangan hachhe (brinjal), gogjaar (turnip), hogaad (dried fish), hokh haakh (green lettuce), haech palak (spinach) and many more winter dried delicacies. Traditionally the vegetables were sun dried in home but now only a few continue to do so and prefer to buy dried foods from the market vendors. Winter food of Kashmir includes all sorts of pulses; the all time favorite rajma, moong, masoor, channa and warimuth that continue to be a part of the diet throughout winters till near spring.

Cozy Autumn Wear

With increasing cold, the people gear up to stay warm and cozy before they set outside. Nothing keeps them warm than the traditional phiran, a long loose cloak worn over the clothes. Men and women have different styles of phiran, in different fabric. While men prefer plain colored tweed or woolen phirans, women have a fetish for aari and tilla embroidery on cashmilon, woolen, terry wool and velvet phirans. The phiran in Kashmir has withstood the modern times; evolving in the trendy patterns the traditional attire still remains!

Hot Coal Kangri

Every home in Kashmir has no less than 5-8 kangri’s one assigned to each member of the family. Kangri is the winter heating pot that uses charcoal to keep the user warm. In goes the hot kangri into the phiran in a made for each other union ;)

Re Doing the Home

November sets off the much needed changes in the furnishing of home. Heavy crewel curtains replace the summer ones; the flooring gets an additional layer of woolen carpets and colorful Namdas, the handmade felt rugs of Kashmir.

Saffron Harvest Month

The most expensive spice in the world, the pride of Kashmir, the pristine saffron is harvested in the months of harud, October-November. It is a festive spirit in the saffron fields’ wherein the entire family works on the field and hand picks the small purple saffron flowers. Interestingly, 100 kilograms of saffron flowers yield about 3 kilograms of saffron!

Gearing for the Winter Prep

Finally, with the end of November people start preparing for the snow, the harsh winters and the spine shivering cold of chillai kalaan! But that is another tale, the beautiful snowflakes romancing the barren meadows of Kashmir.

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