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The lean, quiet Kashmiri wedding

| Updated on June 17, 2020 Published on June 17, 2020

Lavish functions in the Valley have had a Covid-19 makeover

In the days following the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, 2019, local newspapers in Kashmir were flooded with announcements of one kind — cancellations of weddings and engagement ceremonies. As families scrambled to cancel bookings of wedding halls and caterers, decorators and make-up artistes, those at the other side of the table struggled to refund the sum taken as advance payments. The slowdown in business became more debilitating with the continued ban on cellular and internet services. Even the matchmaker, whose work involves visiting the families of prospective candidates, was grounded by the restrictions on civilian movement.

Barely had the Valley emerged from the after-effects of the complete shutdown than India reported its first Covid-19 case in January this year. Transmission of the virus gained momentum and the country was placed under lockdown on March 25. This was yet another blow for wedding plans in Kashmir. As the Centre and states relaxed lockdown norms over the following weeks, wedding ceremonies made a quiet return. The number of guests was down to a maximum of 50 and everyone — from the bride and the groom to the cooks preparing a scaled-down version of the usually elaborate Kashmiri spread or wazwan — were in masks. It may not be the the big fat Kashmiri wedding that was once the norm, yet in these times of despair and gloom, the functions managed to spread cheer among the invitees. Some families stripped down the ceremony to the bare minimum — the reading of the nikah by a maulvi.

While wedding planners mourned the loss of business in the last 10 months, many newly-weds made peace with no-frills ceremonies. Some of them said they used the money saved in feeding migrant workers affected by the lockdown.

Text and images by Nissar Ahmad

Published on June 17, 2020