This is the wedding season in Kashmir. Ramzan, the fasting month of the Islamic calendar, begins early next month. Muslims in the Valley are busy finishing social and cultural obligations ahead of Ramzan. But the heart and soul of Kashmiri cuisine—the Wazwan— is missing.
The continued blockade of essential supplies to the Valley by Jammu agitators has resulted in an acute shortage of meat in the hill-locked region, forcing people to abandon the traditional wazwan, and solemnise marriages austerely.
The wazwan, a delectable aromatic banquet of Kashmir, is not just a meal but a ceremony. Restricted to joyous occasions, weeks of planning and hours of cooking go into the making and serving of a wazwan.
Abdul Majeed Baba of interior Srinagar had planned the marriage of his son and daughter on August 6. The invitation cards had been circulated among expected guests. But he had to cancel the invitations at the last moment as he could not procure meat for the function. "My apologies to the invitees. They should now treat the invitation as canceled. The marriage ceremony would be performed at a simple function," he told his guests in a paid advertisement in a local newspaper.
Ghulam Nabi Khan, another resident, has also turned the grand function of his daughter's marriage into a simple one for the want of meat. "I am 55 years old. I have never seen such a dearth of meat in the Valley," he said.
Over the past three weeks, since the supply line of the Valley has been cut, over 500 wedding ceremonies have been postponed in Srinagar. An equal number of marriages were performed in simple functions.