Between Now and Then: Notes on Harud (Autumn) in Kashmir

Between Now and Then: Notes on Harud (Autumn) in Kashmir
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By Er Suhail Ahmad

Kashmir Harud or the harvesting season in Kashmir begins mid-September and ends in mid-November. It begins when the leaves of trees (except evergreen trees) turn brown. The days get shorter and colder while leaves start falling from the trees. It is the season of apple and paddy harvesting. People in the past used to start store essential commodities for harsh winters.
Harud literally means autumn season, but metaphorically it is associated with doom and downfall of something or somebody and more particularly it means and end to charm, glamour, and charisma of summer.
Harud, to me, is a festival rather than a ‘season’, for villagers it is the busiest part of the year, as paddy is ready to be harvested ,the apples are ready to be picked . In yester years, when the landholding of farmers used to be larger, people used to work enthusiastically in fields, but with the diminishing of land holdings owing to commercial use and increased flow of food grains from Punjab-Haryana, people have lost interest in cultivation activities and people from outside state started taking part in these. People, particularly the youth, see agriculture as a shame, which has led to increased use of labour, which ultimately results in economic drain as well as we are going away from our culture and roots.
In my childhood , we used to work in the fields, helping our elders in agricultural chores from cutting the paddy until thrashing. The day of thrashing used to be significant in the whole harvesting process. On this day many people like “The Barber”, “Waterman or the Ravuk ” , “Blacksmith”, ”Carpenter” to mention a few ,used to get their yearly remunerations in the form of paddy and a few stacks of grass.
Besides this, a number of things used to be sold by people who used to visit even field where thrashing would be taking place, which ranged from house-hold things to agricultural implements.
The winters used to harsh, so people used to store varieties of vegetables in dried form which would be used later, but with improved mobility of supplies from outside the valley , even in winter days the need of these things has also decreased drastically.
But, in the last one decade, Kashmir too saw drastic changes socially, technologically as well as culturally. People nowadays are less interested in agricultural activities. We have big and small markets, malls where people can shop without any hassles. Children nowadays spend hours surfing internet, playing games, why would they bother to visit agricultural fields? All this constitutes both a tragedy as well as a travesty.

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