Kashmir fields echo with folk songs as farming season begins

With farming season picking up in Kashmir, the fields are echoing with the traditional folk songs amid the plantation of paddy saplings.

Over the past one week, the farming community has been busy with plantation of the paddy saplings in the fields.

As the paddy season begins in Kashmir, people actively participate in the plantation of the saplings. During this activity which last for more than a week, the tradition of singing folk song returns to the paddy fields which is actively participated by the women.

The paddy sowing starts before the arrival of the monsoons in June-July. Most of the traditional crops are photosensitive and thus the sowing time is the most important variable in determining the yield.

“The songs are sung to ease out hectic job of planting paddy saplings,” said Ghulam Hassan Khan of Shaloora Kupwara. “The tradition was fading away, but this season it has made a comeback as people can be seen actively participating in the tradition while sowing the saplings.”

Sixty-year old Khan said for the last some years, labourers from other states used to plant saplings. “This year non- local labour is not available,” he said adding that nowadays paddy saplings were being carried out by the families and relatives together.

“Since lockdown everybody, be it a government employee, shopkeeper or a student, are home,” said Muhammad Ayub Dar of Batergam “Now, all of them have stepped into the fields, amid excitement.”

Recalling the tradition, Dar said the activity was done on community basis and all relatives and neighbours would happily join each other and plant paddy in their fields.

“The dominating feature of this hard task of farming remains the folk singing which one can hear coming out from every field these days.”

Taja Begum said her family feels pride to sing folk songs during plating of paddy saplings.

“It gives peace of mind and helps in finishing the work within short span of time,” said 60-year old Begum.

Amid the planting activity, those engaged in the laborious job, including women take a break to relish Kashmiri namkeen chai (salt tea) and other dishes, cooked specifically for the day. ‘

“Today, all our family members and relatives including cousins are here to help in planting the saplings,” said Shaista Bagum of Shumnag village. “It is joyous atmosphere after seven long years.”

Muhammad Jasib, an engineer from the village was also part of the group platting paddy fields.

“For the last three days, I am working with the family in field,” he said, adding that he enjoys taking a break from the regular work to work in the fields.

His father, Muhammad Shaban said last year the produce was not so good. “We hope this year we will have a good crop,” he said, adding till harvesting in September, they will be working regularly in the fields.

“In September, we will hopefully harvest a good crop,” said Shaban.