The big fat Kashmiri weddings known for their extravagant celebrations and multi-course wazwans will get trimmer from April this year.
The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday announced restrictions on the number of guests to be invited and specified the number of dishes that can be served at both public and private gatherings, mostly weddings, in a bid to limit wastage of food and essential commodities in such ceremonies.
The department of food, civil engineering and consumer affairs said it imposed the restrictions after it received complaints regarding “injudicious use of essential commodities and extravagant expenditures being made in both private and public functions’’.
“Whereas, it has been observed/reported that large quantities of food items, besides beverages, fruits, sweets etc are not only being served during these functions but most of it gets wasted and is thrown into dustbins,” it said in a notification.
The order will come into effect from April this year.
While families will be allowed to invite only 500 people for their daughter’s wedding, the number has been restricted to 400 if one’s son is getting married. And only 100 people can be invited for smaller ceremonies like engagements.
The wedding menu is also likely to be restricted and non-vegetarian dishes cannot accede more than seven with only two servings of fruits and sweets.
Manzoor Ahmad, a 30-year-old, who earns Rs 4,500 a month is set to get married in the summer this year, is happy about the order.
“The rich have no problem but people like us are forced to follow. A marriage in Kashmir can leave you in huge debts,’’ Ahmad said.
The government also put a ban on the use of crackers and loudspeakers for both government functions and weddings. The order, however, does not specify whether loudspeakers can be used during public speeches of the chief minister and other political leaders.
It has imposed a complete ban on sending dry fruits and sweets with wedding invitation cards and laid down norms for disposing of leftover food and non-decomposing disposable items.
The restrictions would be applicable in both Jammu and Kashmir regions. While the wedding season is almost coming to an end in Jammu, marriages take place between May and October in Kashmir valley.
A similar bill seeking to put a limit on the number of guests and dishes has been introduced in the Lok Sabha. The bill that has been introduced by Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan says those spending above Rs 5 lakh on a wedding must contribute towards weddings of poor girls.
The Marriages (Compulsory Registration and Prevention of Wasteful Expenditure) Bill, 2016, may be taken up as a private member’s bill in the upcoming Lok Sabha session. The purpose of the bill is to prohibit extravagant and wasteful expenditure on marriages and to enforce simpler solemnisation, Ranjan told PTI.
The state government said the use of big generators sets, high pitch sound amplifiers/loudspeakers, lighting systems and crackers and disposing of the waste is resulting in air and water pollution.
It added that bursting of crackers and loud music, mostly during weddings, causes inconvenience to the older people and students. Weddings and related function take place mostly during the night in the state.
This is not the first time restrictions have been imposed on the number of guests and dishes served in weddings and related functions in the state. The orders, however, have not been implemented successfully in the valley.
In 2004, the Jammu and Kashmir high court stayed the state government’s Guest Control Order. The order, passed in October 2004, restricted the scale of hospitality, the preparation of dishes and the number of guests at weddings and related ceremonies.
The order was challenged in a writ petition. The petitioners said they had already booked banquet halls and distributed invitation cards to their relatives within and outside the state.
While in the Jammu region weddings are known for their extravagant celebrations, Kashmiri weddings are famous for the wazwan meals that are served to the guests. While a regular wazwan during weddings has at least 15 non-vegetarian dishes, the feast served to the groom’s family can go up to 25.