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Farming in Kashmir: Generational paradigm shift

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By: Arshid Khan

Few decades back, come autumn and our fields in Kashmir would reverberate with people immersed in work; the young and old, the men and women alike. The fields presented a festive like occasions where harvest was celebrated. It wasn’t just a season, for the farmers it was a period which ensures his survival. Songs were sung in chorus while harvesting and people of all castes and creeds would have their participation in the field.  However, as time passes, we cannot help but observe a noticeable shift in the attitudes and behaviors of the new age generation in Kashmir, as they increasingly distance themselves from the fields and the rich cultural traditions of work festivity that were once deeply ingrained in their society.

Gone are the days when the collective efforts of individuals, families, children, and women as a community were the driving force behind the thriving agricultural practices in Kashmir. The sense of unity and shared responsibility that once permeated the air has now dissipated, leaving behind a void that is sorely felt by those who hold dear the traditions of their ancestors.

It is disheartening to witness the majority of the people in the Kashmir valley opting to stay away from the agricultural fields, as the once vibrant scenes of toiling farmers have now been replaced by the presence of outside workforce. The sight of these outsiders dominating the landscape is a stark reminder of the changing times and the gradual erosion of the deep-rooted connection between the people of Kashmir and their land.

The reasons behind this shift in behavior are multifaceted and complex. The allure of modernity and the promise of a more comfortable lifestyle have enticed many young Kashmiris to seek alternative paths, away from the physically demanding and often unpredictable nature of agricultural work. The rapid urbanization and the influx of new opportunities in sectors such as technology and services have further contributed to this growing disconnection from the land.

In the past, the fields of Kashmir were a vibrant tapestry of colors, as men, women, and children worked side by side, their hands stained with the earth’s richness. The rhythmic sounds of laughter and conversation filled the air, as families bonded over the shared labor. The fields were not merely a means of sustenance, but a source of pride and identity for the people of Kashmir.

Yet, amidst this changing landscape, there are still those who hold steadfast to the traditions and values that have defined Kashmir for generations. They continue to toil in the fields, their hands calloused from the laborious work, their spirits unwavering in their commitment to preserving the cultural heritage that is deeply intertwined with the land they till.

These dedicated individuals rise with the sun, their days filled with the arduous tasks of sowing seeds, tending to crops, and harvesting the fruits of their labor. They understand the importance of their work, not only for their own sustenance but also for the preservation of a way of life that has been passed down through generations. Their connection to the land is palpable, as they navigate the fields with an intimate knowledge of the soil, the weather patterns, and the delicate balance required for a successful harvest.

The transformation of Kashmir’s new age generation and their increasing detachment from the fields and the culture of work festivity is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. While the majority may choose to distance themselves from the agricultural fields, there are still those who remain dedicated to upholding the traditions and values that have shaped Kashmir’s identity. These resilient individuals, with their unwavering commitment to their land, serve as a beacon of hope for the preservation of Kashmir’s rich cultural heritage. Only time will tell how this delicate balance between progress and preservation will unfold in the years to come.

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