In curfew-hit Kashmir, weddings have become an austere affair. Once, known for their lavish marriages, Kashmiris have gone low-key in keeping with the needs of the situation.
Local police stations provide a limited number of curfew passes to families of the bride and groom. “We had to take two police constables along with baraat (groom’s party) as curfew was being strictly imposed,” Bashir Ahmad, whose son got married early this month, said.
The family could invite only close relatives and neighbours.
Wazwans — the traditional multi-course meal — have also been toned down. Where earlier about 400 kg to one tonne meat was consumed, now it has been reduced to 70-80 kg.
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 R2 lakh,” he said.
The average spending on a marriage ceremony has been reduced from R10 lakh to around R3.50 lakh.
Quratul Ain, who also got married recently, said he could not even have the traditional wanwun songs on the mehandiraat. “Some local youth came and warned us not to sing.... it was a hush-hush affair,” he said.
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.