What is Chillai Kalan: The harshest portion of Kashmir’s winter lasts for three months. The Chilas are comprised of the Chillai Kalan, Chillai Khurd, and Challai Bache.
Chillai-Kalan is the forty-day harsh winter season. Chillai-Kalan begins on 21 December and ends on 31 January of the following year.
The Chillai-Kalan is followed by a 20-day Chillai-Khurd (small cold) from January 31 to February 19 and a 10-day Chillai-Bachha (baby cold) from February 20 to March 2.
According to Persian tradition, the 21st of December is celebrated as Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh, the “Night of Birth.” – The Night of Forty It is known as Chilla Gejasi by Iranian Azerbaijanis and signifies the beginning of the first forty days of winter. The Iranian concept also survives in Kashmir, where Chillai Kalan refers to the forty-day period of the harshest winter.
Throughout Chillai-Kalan, the weather in Kashmir valley remains dry and cold, with minimum temperatures hovering just below the freezing mark.
The likelihood of snowfall is highest and most frequent in Chilli-kalan.
During this 40-day period, the snow freezes and lasts longer.
There are three Chilas.
These are the Chillai Kalan, Chillai Khurd, and Challai Bache. The Chillai-Kalan is followed by a 20-day Chillai-Khurd (small cold) from January 31 to February 19 and a 10-day Chillai-Bachha (baby cold) from February 20 to March 2.
What Kashmiris do in Chillai Kalan
Kashmiris wear the traditional pharan (a long woollen garment worn by both men and women) to protect themselves from the cold. Though modern down jackets are available, Pharan appears to be more cost-effective and durable in harsh winters.
Kanger, a traditional earthen firepot, is used to keep warm and combat extreme cold. Kanger, which utilises coal, is the most reliable method of heating despite the existence of other options. It provides warmth for one day. Coal is replaced daily in the morning.
Kanger and Paharen are complementary. Each one is ineffective without the other.
Sheen e Jung
In the past, snowball fights were the most popular sport in Chilli Kalan. Two opposing parties would construct snow bunkers, and frontline warriors would create snowballs to hurl with full force at the opposing camp until one party completely destroyed the opposing team’s bunker.