As the ‘Chillai Kalan’ makes its way into Kashmir and sends us rolling on upping measures to keep ourselves warm in the sub-zero temperatures. Here are five key facts that explain the practice of observing ‘Chillai Kalan’ in Kashmir.
- In Persian culture dominated countries, there are all together three 40-day periods, one is summer and two in winter; the two in winter periods are known as ‘Chelle Bozorg’ (great Chelle) followed by ‘Chelle Khord’ (small Chelle).
- The 40-day ‘Chella’ period is preserved among Azerbaijanis, who call it Çillə Gecəsi, which means the beginning of the first 40 days of winter.
- To mark the beginning of Chillai Kalan, Iranians celebrate the longest winter night called Shab-e-Chella or Shab-e-Yada by coming together in groups and reciting the poetry of Hafez as a way to mark the moment when light takes over darkness.
- Chelle means forty in Farsi and is derived from the word Shab-e-Chelle (Longest night of the year before the beginning of 40-days harsh winter)
- In Kashmir, Chillai Kalan (major cold) is followed by a 20-day long Chillai Khurd (minor cold) and a 10-day long Chillai Bache (infantile cold). Historically, during this period, Kashmir people stayed indoors surviving on dried preserved food and enjoying folklore and traditional music.