Sub-zero temperature and till-noon chill in Kashmir valley has slowed down the pace of life. Four valley youths, however, are making a rare attempt to nudge people to depart from the past trend of lazing around at well-insulated houses in the harshest winter spell.
An entertainment event, 'Funtoosh: jashne chillai kalaan', scheduled for Saturday at Kashmir University's 2500-capacity auditorium, is first such attempt to actually celebrate the harshest spell of winter, chillai kalaan, which stays for 40 days, starting December 21.
"The idea behind celebrating the harshest winter spell is to impress upon people not to slow down. Unfortunately, people of Kashmir are known for the habit of just giving in to winters and staying indoors," said Sibet Qureshi (23), a mass communication professional in his early twenties.
Agreeing with Qureshi, Abrar Ali (24), another organiser, said, "We need to take cue from the states of Central Asia where life continues with same pace even in winters. Though poor electricity too should be blamed for people's behaviour."
The sharp dip in temperature has most of the valley residents starting their day late in the morning. Even shops open after 10 am because of severe cold spell, which has the valley water bodies, including portions of the Dal Lake and open taps, frozen. People start to wind up the day an hour before the sundown around 4.30 pm. Sub-zero temperature also makes it difficult to drive in the evening with window panes forming layers of ice.
In Srinagar, the night temperature touched the season's lowest of minus 4.3 degree Centigrade on Thursday night. In north Kashmir's Gurez area, night temperature has already dipped beyond minus 20 degree Centigrade. Drass is recording the lowest with temperature hovering around minus 25 degree Celsius.
"We hope musicals, theatre, comedy and mime shows will pull crowd from their hamaams (a special room in the valley houses that is kept warm by burning wood beneath it)," said Rayees Mohi ud-din, a computer post-graduate, who is known for comic performances in the valley. "It's aimed to bring about a cheerful rendezvous with harshest winters spell," he said.
The entertainment event also aims to have spotlight on the valley's history and culture. "We need to bring the new generation close to its roots," said Qureshi.
Shehla Arif (27), a psychology post graduate, who is part of the event, said such event also helps people to exhibit their talent. "It will boost the young and emerging artists to explore their genre of art," said Arif.
For the past two decades, entertainment events were a distant dream in Srinagar. The valley continues to struggle to have a night life. "We have deliberately kept the show after 3pm so that it runs into evening and people enjoy the post-sundown time too," said Qureshi.