Most of the Kashmir plains witnessed this season’s first snowfall some days back, though the upper reaches received it much earlier. The snowfall prompted netizens to wish each other “Sheen Mubarak” on social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Photos and videos of snow too were uploaded on these sites. On the eve of snowfall even Jashn-e-chillaikallan or winter festival is being celebrated at picnic spots to increase the tourist footfall. Various articles such as 'snowman' too are prepared from snow which children adore.
The snow drapes surroundings in a white blanket which is pleasing to eyes. But it brings with it miseries to the common people as basic amenities of life such as electricity, water supply, transportation and connectivity are badly affected.
Main roads such as the Jammu Srinagar National Highway gets blocked owing to avalanches. Places such as Karnah & Gurez remain out of bounds for months together. People find it difficult to get edibles whereas animals too face dearth of feed and fodder.
In fact, the preparation for the ensuing winter begins in autumn when our elders assemble firewood for Bukharis/Hamams, charcoal for Kangris, kerosene, LPG etc. Drying of vegetables and preparation of pickles too is done.
Pruning of trees is performed and arrangements with regard to feed and fodder for livestock too are made well in advance by the farmers. Drivers use chains on vehicles to prevent slips on slippery roads. Despite these preparatory measures the common Kashmiris face hardships in winter season.
Needless to mention that snowfall is essential for Kashmir. It is part of water cycle as the snow melts and the water runs through streams feeding the rivers which is essential for electricity generation and irrigation. Snow replenishes the water table which is lifeline for plants.
Snow brings respite from intense cold and boosts tourism as various tourists visit Valley exclusively to have a glimpse of the snow draped hill stations such as Gulmarg, Sonamarg & Pahalgam whereas some tourists visit them for skiing purpose
Snowfall has its pros and cons but its absence or dearth is detrimental to our environment and ecology. Our flora and fauna are adapted to it. Kashmir is witnessing it from ages. We have learnt to tide over it. We ought to be thankful to our elders and authorities who enable us to first survive and then celebrate snowfall.
Dr. Zubair Ahmad War, B.V.Sc & M.V.Sc, alumnus, SKUAST-Kashmir
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.