Five things about Chillai Kalan you don’t know!

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.