In a Kashmir village named Panzath, a tradition that has been kept alive for centuries not only unites entire communities once a year but also upholds the principles of sustainability and environment conservation.
Every May, people from six villages of the Kulgam district gather in Panzath to conduct a water body cleaning festival.
The festival sees men, women and children across ages teaming up to clear up the Panzath Nag spring of trash, weeds, and silt, and ensure the free flow of water throughout the year. The spring is integral to the local economy, because it irrigates many villages located downstream, and provides drinking water to about 25 villages.
The spring derives its name from the words paanch hath, which means 500. It is believed that there were once more than 500 natural springs in the village.
“I am 82 years old, and never in my life have I missed this festival. Although I can’t go into the water and clean now because of my deteriorating health, I visit and try to keep the spirit of villagers alive,” Ghulam Nabi Deva, who kicked off the festival this year, told New Frame.
The festival takes place during the second week of May and is also the time of large-scale fish harvest. It is a period of celebration and protection of nature.
Watch the villagers in action here:
“In Pictures | Saving the springs of Panzath”, published by New Frame on 9 June 2022.
“Photo essay: In Kashmir, an annual festival has kept a spring clean for centuries”, published by Scroll.in on 14 November 2021.