Text: Shah Hilal
Pics: Aauqib Gull

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QAZIGUND: For generations, the residents in Panzath, a village in Qazigund Kashmir, have sustained the tradition of taking extreme care of their springs. It has gradually emerged as a local festival that is now attracted people from other villages also.

This is the Panzath village’s main water body that is fed by a major spring and is the source of drinking and irrigation for a vast cluster of villages. Image: Aaquib Gull

On a particular day, the villages assemble and get into the spring, the Panzath Naag and clear it of the weeds. They use the wicker basket to clean the bed of the water body. Some of them are fortunate enough to have a number of fish in the baskets.

On a particular day in the year, mostly in May, the village residents get into the spring and clean it. This has been happening for ages. This photograph was taken on May 8, 2022. Image: Aaquib Gull

The village is known for its springs. Residents said the village name is the skirted form of Pantch Hath (500) springs.

They also call their major spring Naagbal.

Over the years in the Panzath village, it has emerged sort of a festival. Residents said the tradition started by their ancestors has helped them keep the water body in order, clean and healthy. Image: Aaquib Gull

The cleaning operation is for a single day.

Villagers apart, a lot of people from other villages also join them.

Angling rods are no option. People get a wicker basket, wear a bag to collect the fish and wade through the water which turns muddy by so many people moving around.

On May 8, 2022, the residents of Panzath village in Qazigund carried the wicker basket clearing the weeds from their spring and catching fish. This is a yearly festival. Image: Aaquib Gull

They use wicker baskets to filter the water and catch fish.

It is quite a noisy day as the howls of laughter fill the atmosphere.

Residents said they have been observing it for a very long time, for generations.

It has no proper calendar but the elders said it is being observed to coincide with Rohne Posh, the annual fruit blossom festival.

One of the Panzath residents shows his catch of the day on May 8, 2022. Part of the day, he spent with scores of other villagers cleaning the Panzath spring, a yearly festival of the village. Image: Aaquib Gull

A de-weeded water body is better managed for the rest of the year and it survives clean.

It is a movement started by the village ancestors and has survived.

Residents said they use the water for drinking and irrigating their fields.

The spring water also is the key source of certain local brooks as well.

The PHE is taking the spring water to provide tapped water to around 35 villages.

The abundance of water led Fisheries Department to invest in a major hatchery in the village.


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