SRINAGAR: The December 21st marks the beginning of the 40-day winter period known as ‘Chillai Kalan’. This period is considered as the coldest period of winter in Kashmir. During the 40 day ‘Chillai Kalan’, it is said earth goes dead; air and water are the coldest.
According to local beliefs, ‘Chillai Kalan’ is followed by 20-day-long ‘Chilai Khurd’ and 10-day-long ‘Chillai Bacha’. Chillai Kalan is the period when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the most frequent as well and valleyites experience bone-chilling cold wave.
Even one day before its start the chilling impact of severe cold was felt in entire Kashmir.
Chillai Kalan as a season enjoys rich legacy behind it .Interestingly according to Persian tradition, night of 21st December is celebrated as Shab-e Yalda-“Night of Birth”, or or Shab-e Chelleh. – “Night of Forty”. It is the Persian winter solstice celebration which has been popular since ancient times. Iranian Azerbaijanis call it Chilla Gejasi, which means the beginning of the first 40 days of winter.
During this harsh cold period the electricity woes are set to irritate common People once again and likely even shortage of commodities due to closure of National Highway connecting Kashmir with rest of world.
Danish Bhat, a student states – “In Kashmir Chillai Kalan has its own charm and people with traditional dress and food etc enjoy in own way. Though there are some hardships during chillai Kalan but the traditional symbols like Pheran, Kangri, fried vegetables help people to face it with smile. If the administration and the government gear up and provide better electricity supply and other basic amentias to the masses entire period of Chillai Kalan would be a nice experience and help masses to face harsh cold in a better way.”
Pertinently, Chillai Kalan has also been a treasure for Kashmiri literature and folk as the bare trees, snowfall and winter chill of this period have provided awesome content for many folk songs and poems. (KNB)