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Kashmiri marriage season disturbed by elections

New Delhi: In Kashmir, traditionally the marriage season starts from October and continues throughout the winter. This year the schedule has been disturbed and many decided to advance the dates. The reason: elections in the state in four phases. People are deciding the wedding dates according to the election dates because of anticipated tension and violence.

Imams, who conduct marriages in the valley, said that by September 8 nearly 70 per cent of planned marriages had already been solemnised. 

However, the months before October are not the best ones to get married in Kashmir. But there is no choice. Elections are often followed with curfew and violence. 

Majid, a resident of Srinagar, whose marriage last year was postponed because of custodial killing of a relative, doesn't want to miss marriage this year. Another person from Srinagar, Tariq Shameem, who was married last fortnight, thinks "better earlier than never". 

The number of bridegrooms coming to shrines for divine blessings doubled after the election dates were declared. Now 20-25 bridegrooms come for blessings every day to the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar. Around this time, only 10-15 bridegrooms came last year, said an attendant. On the shrine of Syed Yaqoob, a medieval saint, nearly 20 bridegrooms were coming every day. 

Vendors and shopkeepers around the shrines are happy because their earnings have increased. The bridegrooms go to the shrines with a large number of people. So they are earning more.

Timings of the marriages have also undergone change. People avoid going to evening marriage parties to avoid curfews and stoppage by security patrols. These days marriages are being organised in the mornings instead of evenings. 

Marriages in the valley are a very special occasion. They are the time for feasting and rejoicing. Specially trained chefs known as wazas are called to prepare the sumptuous Kashmiri cuisine wazawan. The chefs are paid handsomely. They are paid equal to the total cost of the meat they cook, which could mean an earning of nearly Rs 25,000-30,000 per day during the festive season. Meat items like gushtaba, rishta, roghan josh, tabaq maz, qorma, kabab mirch chetni, abgosh are prepared. When the feasts start the guests are expected not to stand up during the feasting because this is considered a discourtesy to the host. There are many servings of food. An entire course usually takes up nearly two hours to complete. 

Singing and dancing which had decreased during the decade-long militancy, are slowly staging a comeback through marriage parties. During banquet, a group of local singers sings local songs and local musical instruments like rabab,and sarangi are used.

Mazharul Haque

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