Kashmiris, who are known for their lavish spending on wedding feasts, are solemnising the marriages in an austere way due to the ongoing unrest in the Valley as strikes and curfews have made it nearly impossible for the invitees to participate in the functions.
The marriage functions these days need facilitation of law enforcement agencies as the local police station provides a limited number of curfew passes to families of the bride and the groom to allow their free movement on the wedding days.
"We had to take two police constables along with baraat (groom's party) as curfew was being strictly imposed," Bashir Ahmad, whose son Showkat got married early this month, said.
Ahmad said since there was no scope of a large number of guests being able to attend the wedding, he only invited his close relatives and neighbours. "We were planning for the wedding feast since last year and expected to incur an expenditure of Rs 3.50 lakh to Rs 4 lakh on it. However, due to the ongoing unrest, that has come down to just Rs one lakh," he added.
Kashmiris, who are voracious mutton consumers, normally use 400 kilograms to one tonne of meat for preparing the Wazwan (traditional multi-course meal) but that has been reduced to 70 to 80 kg due to the prevailing circumstances in the Valley.
Tariq Ahmad, who got married early this week, said other allied expenditure were automatically reduced.
"The cost of disposable items for serving the food, renting extra beddings for the guests, the decorations, cold drinks and other seemingly small expenses have been saved. At the end of the day, the spending on these things sometimes cross Rs 2 lakh," he said.
The average spending on a marriage ceremony has been reduced from Rs 10 lakh to around Rs 3.50 lakh as the extensive Wazwan has been reduced to a few dishes.
"We did not cook too many dishes as it was not feasible in the given circumstances. We had a basic Wazwan cuisine," Quratul Ain, who also got married recently, said.
Although Qurat's marriage was a simple affair, his family wanted to sing the traditional wanwun songs on the Mehandiraat.
"However, some local youth came and warned us not to sing.... it was a hush-hush affair," he said.
Qurat's elder brother Basharat had also got married under similar circumstances in the aftermath of Amarnath land row agitation in the Valley.
Besides nearly putting the traditional chefs -- known as 'wazas' -- out of business, the "austere" weddings have badly affected the business of goldsmiths and jewellers.
"The bulk of our earnings would come during the wedding season but that is almost gone now. People of Kashmir are fond of giving gold ornaments as gifts but when you are not attending a marriage, why would you give a gift?" Jamsheed Ahmad, a jeweller, said. He said even families of brides and grooms have cut down on buying gold jewellery.