An ode to paddy: Kashmiri farmers' folk songs set social media abuzz

The folk songs, farmers say ease out the hectic job of planting paddy saplings.
An ode to paddy: Kashmiri farmers' folk songs set social media abuzz
Over the past over a week, the farming community has been busy with planting the paddy saplings in the fields across Kashmir. Mubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar: As the process of planting paddy saplings is at its peak in Kashmir, the fields are echoing with Kashmiri traditional folk songs, videos of which have become viral on social media.

Over the past over a week, the farming community has been busy with planting the paddy saplings in the fields across Kashmir.

During this season, people actively participate in the plantation of the saplings.

They leave their homes early in the morning and return late in the evening.

Pertinently, the paddy sowing starts in Kashmir 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 folk songs, farmers say ease out the hectic job of planting paddy saplings. The tradition has faded during two years because of COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this season it has made a comeback as people can be seen actively participating in the tradition while sowing the saplings. Various videos of farmers singing in unison have been widely appreciated by the netizens.

Official figures reveal that around 3.15 lakh hectares of land are under cultivation of different crops. Paddy, which is the most common crop in Jammu and Kashmir, is grown on 1.41 lakh hectares of land. 80,000 hectares of land are under maize cultivation and another 30,000 hectares are under vegetable cultivation.

Almost three decades ago, folk songs used to be performed during the holy month of Ramadan to celebrate the beginning of the holy month and later to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.

The paddy saplings are being sown by the families and relatives together. “ Be it student, government employee or a shopkeeper everybody participates so that it ends early,” said Muhammad Abass Dar of Narbal Srinagar. “All of them step into the fields, amid excitement."

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."

Abdul Rashid Bhat of the same area says that folk songs or rouf give peace of mind and helps them in finishing the work within a short span of time.

“We take a break to relish Kashmiri namkeen chai (salt tea) and other dishes, cooked at home specifically for the day,” Bhat said, adding that all our family members and relatives including cousins are in fields to help in planting the saplings. “This year it is a joyous atmosphere."

The family and relatives of Bhat were sowing paddy sapling for the last about a week. “We have extended family, it might still be a day,” he said, adding that they enjoy taking a break from the regular work to work in the fields.

At the same time, the farmers this year hope for a good crop. The farmers will be working in fields till September when harvesting season starts.

Officials of the Agriculture Department said that currently, they have got reports of 100 percent sowing of maize and paddy seeds across the valley. “Transplantation of paddy has begun in entire Kashmir since the last two weeks,” they said.

From making fertilizers available to home delivery of seeds, officials said that the department took various measures to promote agriculture activities this year.

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