As they reap what they sow in spring, Kashmir’s golden landscape at once turns festive with harvest hands and hymns in autumn.
Sweat beads shine their furrowed foreheads as the scorching sun in a sleepy hamlet glows the golden swathes of paddy fields. In this pastoral portrait, Kashmir’s farmers reap the harvest with festive vibes.
With the reaping season on its last leg, the hands-that-serve are stacking up haystacks and loading sackful of grains as the fruit of labour.
In the backdrop of this mesmerizing mountain, the harvested field looks like a poetic desolation. Some of the peasants have left behind the harvest heaps for a midday siesta.
Away from the desolated patch, a group of women farmers hymn the songs of harvest while doing the needful. For the day, the familiar chitchat has paved the way to the songs, synergy and smiles.
The upshot of this collective labour remains the dotted landscape — the reminder of the beginning of the new cycle.
Most of these men appear characters from some dramatic reel. But with their poise comes their daunting sense of food-producing responsibility.
Haystack-dotted paddylands add their own charm to the countryside during the fall when green fades into golden before everything gets draped under the white carpet.
This fall-time thrashing remains one of the most cathartic activities for distressed natives. They liberate themselves from the burdens of the expectations with this heart-easing whipping.
This family affair remains a fun-time for children before the impending winter holds life captive to the numb sensation.
The end product of the thrashing is being spread over the surface for sundrying. The very touch of the crop makes all the efforts worth it and perhaps makes the whole cycle fulfilling.
The traditional Kashmiri brew ensures regular recreations during this time. Despite plague making hand-washing mandatory, they still love to take the old way for the sake of taste.
The snap calls in mind that wall-calendar picture—showing a tea party on fields. Despite some of those calendars fading from the walls of ‘Naya Kashmir’ now, that old party—celebrating life amid heightening tensions—continues in the valley. Perhaps Zinda Dilan-e-Kashmir isn’t a metaphor for nothing.
As part of this festivity, the non-native workforce engaged on farms eventually helps in packaging. The smiles at the end convey a lot.
At about the same time, the truck-load of haystacks leaves the field for the market and homes. The dispatched agrarian product will be used as the cattle-feed now.
The desolation returns once the fields are stripped of its golden crop. What remains now is a forlorn landscape ready to pass through a long winter before swinging back to life during spring.
Mumin Gul is a documentary photographer and multimedia journalist based in Kashmir. His focus mostly lies in long-term photo projects. He is currently a multimedia intern at the Mountain Ink.