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HA’RUD: Season's Kashmiri flavour

One who acts in spring, does Gon’gul , reaps autumnal harvest, Krav
11:47 PM Nov 22, 2023 IST | M. J. Aslam
ha’rud  season s kashmiri flavour



Ha’rud is the Kashmiri name for third season of the year: the autumn. In Persian, autumn is Payiz, and also Khizan. In Urdu, autumn is Khizan or Patjadh, while in Hindi and Sanskrit it is Sarada or Sharada. In Arabic, it is called Kharif. In English calendar, autumn consists of three months of September, October and November of the year, and the Kashmiri calendar corresponds to it.  In Hindi-Sanskrit calendar, Har’ud spans over two months of Oshid and Kartikh or Aswin and Kartikh, corresponding to September-October and October-November, indicating the end of the clouds of monsoon and arrival of the fruits. It is the season marked by decrease in day-temperature, the duration of days shortens while the duration of nights increases. It is a sultry season that usually follows the rainy days of the summer and of September in the valley. Towards the later part of the autumn season, Har’ud-e-Kol, in October and November, the cold increases, the bright and sunny days of the summer season, Rete-Kol, disappear, the sky remains mostly overcast and the surrounding mountains of the valley hide behind the clouds, which is the forerunner of the coming winter, the Wandeh. The climate in Har’ud is quite fascinating and most suitable for the visitors. In the past, the valley attracted huge rush of the Europeans during the Har’ud.


Har’ud Achun:


“Har’ud Achun”, has been the common term in usage among the Kashmiris on arrival of the much awaited season of the year for the peasantry class when crop and fruit are fully ripe for the harvest. With onset of the Har’ud, the green colour of leaves, grass and trees, undergoes a visible change, and steadily and slowly the yellow and crimson red colour leaves embellish the trees everywhere and then, as the autumnal days pass, the leaves commence  parting their company with the trees, but only to fall dead on the ground. The scene of the autumnal leaves [ Har’ud e Pan] dropping from the height of the majestic chinars---the chinars the legacy of the great Sultans and Mughals to the valley---decorating and lining the Mughal gardens, and other places and some roads, is one of the breathtaking beauties.


Mughal legacies:


The Emperor Akbar through his able administrator, Todar Mal, introduced in Indian land administration the foundational concept of Fasl, harvest of Rabi and Kharif, among the Indian peasantry. Kharif comes from Kharaf and Kharif is identified with first crop of autumn consisting chiefly of rice throughout Indian subcontinent; for Kashmiris, rice is food staple. Rabi is spring harvest the seed for which are sown in autumn [ Har’ud e Biol], while Kharif is the autumn harvest, the seed for which are sown in spring[ Son’th e Bi’ol]. Both terms, Rabi and Kharif, have Persio-Arabic etymology and are used throughout the Indian subcontinent without difference in arable land operations since centuries. All land does not bear two harvests and the land that does bear two harvests in So’nth and Har’ud, is called Du-Fasli. The land that bears only one harvest is called Ek-Fasli. In British India down to the present day there were generally two harvests in a year in Northern part of the country. Kashmir soil is also famous as Du-Fasli but the main harvest of crop and fruit is gathered in Har’ud. In some lands in India, three harvests, Se-Fasli, are cultivated with an intermediate one, between spring and autumn harvests.


Religious & cultural traditions:


Most of the peasantry communities in the world have had religious ceremonies at seed-time and harvest-time. The Hindus have had an old religious practice in India at the close of the ploughing and sowing season, either in the spring or autumn, of worshipping the plough [Ale-be’in] by cleaning and garlanding it. It is called their Har-Puja. In Kashmir, devoid of any religious colouration, there was a cultural tradition, called Gon'gul, when peasantry class of a village or two would jointly draw their bullocks to the arable fields and begin ploughing and sowing seeds in the spring season, Son’th e Bi’ol. It was celebrated like a cultural festival by distributing Tehri among all those, young, old, men and women present at the farmlands. The tea and lunch prepared by womenfolk at their homes were served to the men toiling hard in the paddy-fields. The Kashmiris in the past had great beliefs in their “Pirs”. At the time of autumn, the peasantry class invited “Pirs” to their homes for a feast where they were served [cooked] rice and domestic fowl like duck, rooster, and they then asked their Pirs to make Dua for a good harvest.

One who acts in spring, does Gon’gul , reaps autumnal harvest, Krav:

There is a four liner poem, commonly called Shruik, attributed to Sheikh Noor Ud Din of Chari Sharief in which the mystic poet is stated to have said: “:  Adan So’nth Chui, Zchi’an Awal Ti, Bozit Ghari Rut Ma Panun Thav, Path Yuth Ni Gazchikh So’nth Chui Chal Ti, Yuss Kari Gon’gul Su Kari Krav[ Tr. O, peasant, So’nth is the call of time, get to it early, Good news of the spring has come, confine it not to your home only,  So’nth is a call, a temptation to do, to act at present, don’t be left behind, one who acts in spring, does Gon’gul , reaps the autumnal harvest, Krav!” “Krav” means the reaping of usufruct of the labour of spring and summer; the yield---crops, grains, fruit---that a cultivator collects at the time of Ha’rud, the autumn. It is the time when grain and fruit are fit for gathering. It implies harvesting of that which one has sown in the spring, reaping the fruit of one’s good actions and, thus, to live comfortably on one’s accumulated earnings. If one has not sown anything in spring, not done any good action, the fruit will be accordingly not good. He cannot reap anything at the time of the Ha’rud. Krav is subject to Gon’gul. The word “krav” has found mention in the poetry of some other Kashur poets as well. Persians call two equinoxes of spring [Bahar, So’nth] and autumn [ Khizan , Ha’rud] , respectively, as Nau’roz [ beginning of new year on 21st March]  and Mehrjan[ beginning of winter in Mehr, September-October] , both being celebrated by them.

Gathering harvest:

Before the machines viz, tractors, trolleys and tillers, found their way in the farmlands of the Kashmiri cultivators, they used their pair of bullocks for ploughing the soil. The plough-bullocks were never used by the Kashmiri farmers for carrying the rice and other crops from the field to their homes. The sheaves of rice and other corn are heaped up at the cultivating fields where traditionally, threshing and winnowing of the paddy is done before the paddy collected in sacks [was] carried by men on their shoulders to their homes. It was stored in Kuth, wooden-granary, built in the compound of the homes in villages. Lopun which was a clay-granary set up  in the ground floor of  old Kashmir homes, was also a receptacle for storing grain like paddy, rice, wheat , barley for consumption , and also seeds for sowing in spring. The rice-straw is collected and tied up together in bundles and the sheaves of the rice-straw are heaped up in the compounds of the homes. Why plough-bullocks were not engaged for carriage, transporting grain, by the farmers? The farmers believed that the plough-bullocks deserved to be given rest at the time of the harvest after they hard ploughing of the fields in spring and summer seasons. Kashmir ‘had’ an identity of agro-economy. The peasantry families remained awfully engaged during the season of Har’ud with the harvesting operations, and the business of the farmers in doing autumnal activities were described by the idioms of  Har’ud e Lar” and “Har’ud e Grekh”.

Was a real delight to watch !

In good old days of yester-years’ Kashmir when lush green forests and huge swathes of paddy lands, water bodies and navigable canals, decorated the valley from East to West, North to South, when “concrete jungles” had not replaced the nature’s gifts to Kashmiris, there used to be one of the handsomest and most representative species, Barasingha, twelve-horned Kashmiri stag, also Hangul, who, after losing its horns in  spring and till they completely disappear in hot weather of summer from his head, would wander high upon in the hillsides of Sind valley Wangat, Lolab valley,  Harwan and Achibal in early months of the Ha’rud with renewed horns. It was a real delight to watch for the natives and the non-natives in its natural habitation. Now, few samples of Hangul are “protected” in Dachigam and Tral animal sanctuaries.  Previously, there was an animal sanctuary at Khanmoh also.

During Har’ud and Wande, the lakes, wetlands, and canals of Dal , Wulur, Hokursar, Khushalsar, Tsont-e-Kol , Anchar, and the like, were visited by innumerable migratory birds , grebes, moor hens, bald coots, and native ducks, geese, swans and others, added colours of delight to the waters of water-bodies of the vale. Their serene swimming on the surface of the waters looked like princesses in boats and their dropping into the waters seemed like precious emeralds falling down from the heavens. They were the indicators of the nature’s presence of wonder everywhere once upon a time what was then known worldwide the happy valley!


The main crop of the Har’ud in Kashmir comprises of rice, maize, pulses and sesamum [tel], and chief fruit of apple is also picked in this season.  The best variety of apple for which Kashmir had recognition throughout the Northern India till recent past was Ambir Zchont which grew in abundance and ripened late in autumn and used to be the largest apple yield of the old Kashir. The Kashmiri cultivators would sow the seeds [Har’ud e Bi’ol] in autumnal season for spring crop of wheat, barley, peas and mustard [rapeseed]; the valley produced sufficient edible mustard oil. Though the large crop of wheat was gathered in spring, Kashmir was rich in wheat crop of autumn as well, the land being Du-Fasli. Kashmir’s ground- wheat [Kanakh e Ot] was main item of attraction at Agro-Exhibitions held in North India like Lahore, etc, in the past.  The crop of paddy, wheat, barley, maize, was husked, de-hulled and pounded by Kashmiris at homes in traditional stone mortars [Kunz] with wooden pestles [Mohul] and the pounded chaff of the crop [ Kosh] was , and is used, for animal fodder. The wheat and barley were also taken to the water-mills [Ab e Grete] for grinding and crushing into fine powers of flour Ot and Sot. Kashmiri Kanakh e Ot was consumed in most of the Kashmiri homes, especially in rural areas, by making homemade roti, [Chot]. The fine flour of barley [wushki] and maize[ makai]  are famous as Sot which is used with Kashmiri salt-tea. The roti was, and is still, made of the barley and maize flour in some rural belts of Kashmir. The Sot is always available in markets of the valley.

To iterate, rice is staple grain of the valley which begins to ripen from early days of the Har’ud. Before the Kashmiris started converting large agricultural-lands into concrete residential and commercial structures, and before overwhelming rural population had begun lining up for subsidised or free “ration” at the government ration-depots, the valley had a recognition of producing excellent varieties of rice, daniyi[paddy], to say the least, which were the Har’ud-harvest. These varieties of paddy, rice that Kashmir’s soil produced in the autumn in golden days of the past, were: Safed Tomul,  Zag-Tomul, Lar-byol-Tomul, Yimberzal-Tomul, Mushkibudij-Tomul, Basmati—Tomul, Braz-Tomul, Kunyi-Tomul, Reban-Tomul, Kathachhan-Tomul, Puthi-Brar-Tomul, Sokhdas-Tomul, Wu-lag-Tomul and Chogul-Tomul. Chogul-Tomul, BasmatiTomul, and Kuni-Tomul were the best crop harvest in the Har’ud. While BasmatiTomul, and Kuni-Tomul grew in Yech villages of South Kashmir’s district Islamabad [later Anantnag], Chogul-Tomul , the finest of all variety of rice, was cultivated in Teilbal area of the valley.  Kashmiris had “ample food, abundance of fuel, sufficient clothing” and a house to live in. There was “a general comfort but no luxury”.


Other autumnal activities:

Although the sheep are sheared twice in a year, the major sheep shearing is, however, done in later days of the Har’ud. The autumnal fleece is always plentiful and after manual processing of beating and cleansing, the wool [Yir] produce of the fleece was used in making of traditional blankets [ Zchadars] in many households of  South and North Kashmir like Shopian and Bandipoa during the winter season. The silk reeling at government filatures ,  Solina Srinagar, commenced in Har’ud . The sericulture in Kashmir, which owes its origin to Central Asian countries of Kashghar, Khotan , etc, picked up in the Har’ud. A guild of silkworm bearers, Kiram-kashs, worm-breeders, lived in villages. The silkworms feed on leaves of mulberry plants and Kiram-kashs were engaged in the trade of silkworm-breeding at their homes which they sold to the government filatures. The silk-reeling and silkworm-breeding were employment to many households of old Kashmir.  In late autumn, the  poorer people travelled to British Punjab for a livelihood , while better-offs would travel to different cities of British India including Lahore, Calcutta, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Delhi, etc, to sell their merchandise of Kashmir arts and crafts.


Traditional winter-provisioning:

After gathering harvest[ Har’ud Watun], the Kashmiris would then focus on storing charcoal [ Zchini] , sun-dried vegetables[ Hokh e Si’on], firewood[ Zi’on, Zalun] and warm clothing[ garam palav], for the winter when the vale was cut off from the outside world by heavy snowfalls. Times may have changed, money may have replaced simplicity, but the old-age tradition of winter-provisioning of “essential items” has remained intact in Kashmirian community. From A to Z, all Kashmiris in the Har’ud, for example,  begin storing charcoal [Zchini] which is used in Kashmiri portable brazier, Kanger , during the cold season of Wandeh to beat the cold and warm the bodies. In autumn, to note, Zchini are handmade coal prepared by Kashmiris by burning the heaps of pruned twigs, fallen trees and leaves in abundance in the jungle which is then sold in sacks in the city and towns.

Some idioms:  

There are some idioms associated with the word “Har’ud” such as “Har’ud-Achun”, “Har’ud e Kol”, “Har’ud Watun”, “Har’ud e Biol”, “Har’ud e Lar”, “Har’ud e Grekh”, which we have already referred to above. The fall of autumn leaves is also associated with the mortality, the decline of life.  The idioms like “Har’ud Lagun”, “Har’ud e Zazur”, symbolise the mortal meaning of life. “Har’ud Lagun” is indicative of the decaying condition of life, both human and plant. When green leaves, vegetables and grass become yellow, pale, stale, withered and decayed, it is called “Zazur Lagun”. For human life, it connotes the decayed, withered condition of life, “Har’ud e Zazur”.  Thus, a Kashmiri poet laments the mortality of life in this line: “Masoom Phul Wun Lal e Rukh, Kami Har’udani Zazur ov Meh”[ alas, my guileless rose-face in bloom, is withered away by some autumnal-decline!

Bottom Line:

Yuss Kari Gon’gul Su Kari Krav [Sheikh Noor Ud Din]

M J Aslam, Author and Historian