“Behold, my friend, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love.”
Spring very aptly described as a ‘time of rebirth, renewal, and awakening‘ is welcomed warmly throughout the globe. In Kashmir too, the coming of spring is a great reason to rejoice. With all of nature coming to life again and especially after the long and harsh winters, the valley of Kashmir refuses to continue looking like a painting-black and white. With the nights shorter and days longer, it paints itself plentifully in colors so vibrant and majestic; beholding a colorful masterpiece often serving us a reminder of how mighty and loving Mother Nature can be.
Spellbound by Spring of Kashmir
Spring that usually sets in by March and lasts until the first half of May, depending on the climatic conditions turns Kashmir into a paradise. It is a metaphorical reminder of life itself- astonishingly beautiful yet uncertain and fleeting. It is that time of the year that breaks the grey winter spell through the wildflowers which are usually the first to win the race. One cannot help but enjoy the mesmerizing view of the bright mustard fields in contrast to the deep blue sky spreading across the horizon. The freshly blossoming almond, apricot, cherry, pear, peach trees and the fragrance and freshness they lend to the air around reeks of spring uniting man and nature yet again. The freshly awakened soil and the sight of the lush green leaves on the trees call for celebrations of the New Year that lies ahead. The generous winds that help carry the petals of the blossoming flowers create a breath-taking spectacle for both the old and the new.
As the Season of Hope, the hustle and bustle of the villagers start again with the advent of the Spring- the farmers start sowing the seeds, the apple trees are taken special care of expecting a fruitful season.
For anyone willing to lend an ear to the music of nature, it is everywhere in spring- from the migratory birds that fly out hundreds of kilometers to return to their native lands to the snow capped mountains that begin to melt with the first rays of the glistening sun creating new streams of gushing water bringing life to the springs and rivers; playing as a sweet melody in the background. As the Season of Hope, the hustle and bustle of the villagers start again with the advent of the Spring- the farmers start sowing the seeds, the apple trees are taken special care of expecting a fruitful season. Navreh or Nawroz meaning “New Day” which falls around 21 March on the day of vernal equinox marking the beginning of spring in the Northern hemisphere is celebrated across communities on this day. With the flow of tourists, the lifestyle of the locals significantly changes from the slumber of the cold.
Set against the foothills of the Zabarwan Range on the banks of Dal Lake and spread over an area of 80-acres, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, the largest in Asia, located in Srinagar hosts the six day-long Annual Tulip Festival for tourists to witness the spring blooms of almost 15 lakh flowers of more than 64 varieties. Tourists flock from all over the world to the Land of beautiful landscapes to escape from the unforgiving heat in the plains.
Tourism had seen a sharp decline in the advent of insurgency and terrorism and also due to the crisis which was a result of the pandemic that crippled the entire world. With the situation now docile, survey reports have predicted the current year to be a boon for the tourism industry. Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a public message encouraged the people to witness the scenic Tulip festival and also to experience the warm hospitality of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Spring happens to also be socioeconomically as well as ecologically important a season in the Kashmir Valley. It is both the flowering as well the sowing season in the region. Approximately 2/3 of the population of the Kashmir Valley is dependent on agriculture and horticulture and the spring season happens to significantly influence the production of agriculture and horticulture in the region.
Spring Rainfall is Not Welcome
Various studies have revealed an increase in both the mean minimum and maximum temperature as well as a significant increase in spring rainfall. In contrast to the reduced winter precipitation, spring precipitation has increased significantly during the 20th century. The increase in temperature can trigger the premature melting of glaciers in the region. It has already preponed the flowering phenology of important horticulture crops like apple and almond in the Kashmir valley. The significant increase in precipitation accompanied by prolonged wet and cloudy spells has badly affected the pollination of various fruit crops and reduced their production. This unusually abnormal increase in the temperature of winter and spring seasons in the valley has serious repercussions- both economic and ecological. It reduces agricultural productivity and changes the cropping and disease patterns in the valley. Water scarcity impacts the irrigation facilities indispensable for agricultural practices in the area and especially during the late summer months when its requirement is the most.
Furthermore, increased winter temperature reduces the required number of chilling hours which is necessary for bud break in various fruit crops. The climate changes have adverse effects in this region of the north-western Himalayas and specifically in the spring season as it is that time of the year in which the fruit setting process for the temperate fruits takes place. This poses an imminent threat to the livelihood patterns of those residing in this area. To combat the adverse effects of climate change and for ensuring the livelihood patterns of the locals by safeguarding the productivity of agriculture, steps must be taken to introduce new cultivars, adopt proper water harvesting techniques, boost pollination.
Allergy to Industrialization
Amir Khusro’s couplet in Persian remembered and recited by Mughal Emperor Jahangir as he witnessed the implausibly pristine beauty of Kashmir translates as “If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, and it is this.” Only those who have been to Kashmir will concur. Surrounded by untamed mountains and untouched natural beauty, the scenic beauty of Kashmir is immensely enchanting. However, under the garb of development and the incessant desire for more, mindless construction and competition for house building continues to pose a threat to the beauty and magic of the Spring Blossoms in Kashmir. Srinagar’s Badam Vaer` (Almond Garden), cherry blossoms, mustard fields, clear blue sky , flowing rivers, and the buzz of the honey bees should not be relegated to the textbooks for the future generations but be preserved abundantly to witness and experience.