What cherry blossom is to Japan and peach blossom to China,almond blossom is to Kashmir. For generations the fruit and its flowers haveimpressed and inspired Kashmiris. Almonds exhibit an intrinsic relation withart and culture of Kashmir, which no fruit comes even close to.
Last week when Badamwari was opened for public, 50,000people flocked the garden. Such was the rush that people had to park theirvehicles kilometres away and walk to the garden.
The long lost era of badamwari festival seems to haverevived albeit at a minor scale. "Badamwari festival used to be a grand affair.It was as if whole Kashmir would converge in Srinagar to bask in the glory ofthese beautiful flowers in the foothills of Hari Parbat," said renowned poetand writer Ghlam Nabi Khayal who used to live adjacent to vast almond orchardsin Hawal. "It would be miles of pink flowers treating our eyes."
According to Khayal right from Sangeen Darwaza, the almond trees would blossom and one could see people picnicking around. "The Badamwari would extend from Western side of Hari Parbat all the way to eastern side of Waris Khan Chah," said Khayal.
According to some records there were 25 almond gardens interconnected to form major badamwari spread over thousands of Kanals of land. "It was the only secular festival Kashmir would ever celebrate. Here Hindus, Muslims and people of other religions would celebrate without inhibitions. All other festivals and Urs had religious undertone but not Badamwari," said Khayal.