Austere weddings replace lavish functions in Kashmir

Austere weddings replace lavish functions in Kashmir

Shikaras lay abandoned at a ghat as restrictions continue in the Valley, at Dal Lake in Srinagar, on August 18, 2019. PTI

While the ongoing clampdown has severely affected all spheres of life in Kashmir, austere weddings have replaced lavish functions with hundreds of invitation being cancelled.

The restrictions and communication clampdown was imposed on August 4 night after Centre decided to scrap Article 370 and reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories. As marriage season was set to begin in the Valley after Bakr-Eid, hundreds of families had already distributed invitation cards among their relatives and friends.

However, over the last two weeks, local newspapers have been carrying dozens of “invitation cancelled” messages. “Due to the prevailing situation in Kashmir, the invitation for the marriage ceremony of my sons scheduled on 26, 27 and 28 August is cancelled. However, the nikah ceremony will be held with simplicity as per schedule,” informed Ghuklm Nabi Sofi of Illahi Bagh, Srinagar, to their near and dear ones through a local newspaper.

On an average 400-500 guests are invited to a middle-class Kashmiri wedding that lasts for three days. A variety of dishes called ‘wazwan’, mostly non-vegetarian, are cooked for the guests. However, due to the prevailing uncertain situation, the big and ostentatious weddings have been replaced by simple gatherings of close relatives and some neighbours.

Many families that had booked hotels and planned wedding reception at marriage halls have also cancelled the bookings. In one such case, the family of a bride who is getting married in New Delhi next month has cancelled the reception in Kashmir.

“Since the situation is tense in Kashmir, my husband and his relatives — who are non-locals asked to cancel all bookings in Kashmir,” said Yasir Khan.

The cancellation of wedding functions has dealt a serious blow to the livelihood of people associated with the trade. From tent owners to ‘wazas’ (cooks) and mutton sellers to dry fruit and bakery shops, the prevailing situation has come at a wrong time for them.

“I had at least 30 bookings for tents in August only and now all have been cancelled. As the marriage season had just begun, I had made a lot of new investment for this season. But alas, now it seems everything is gone,” Farooq Ahmad, a tent owner told DH.

He said they had to face the same situation in 2016 and were yet to recover the losses suffered during that season. 

“This time there is no hope as the situation is getting from bad to worse. Only Almighty knows for how long Kashmiris have to live like this,” Ahmad rued.