By Rameez Bhat
In Kashmir, the bridegroom and his huge baraat is welcomed with dhol-nagarah and band-baja. It also involves huge costs on frivolities, verging on bid’ah (innovation in Islam). The massive financial burden forces families to despair and frustration.Like people elsewhere, Kashmiris follow various cultural and social traditions among which the Kashmiri wedding traditions are the most unique. There are several unique features that make Kashmiri wedding traditions quite distinctive from the traditions followed by people belonging to other communities. But following traditions, custom and culture does not guarantee a successful everlasting marriage. Moreover, at times ,these practices which include extravagances and the evil custom of dowry are overdone.
The unique Kashmiri wedding starts with checking the compatibility between the families of the bride and the groom, check the backgrounds of each other’s family, reputation and status (family tree). Most likely a middleman/woman comes and fixes the date and timings of the wedding after matching the horoscopes and then the two parties agree to go ahead with it. After that several steps are followed in the pre-wedding period like Vaana, Livun, Wanwun, Manzirat, Duribat, Devgon and so on.
Vaana is the formal engagement ceremony that takes place after the two parties agree to form the matrimonial alliance. Vaana takes place in front of an elder; it is followed by the meeting of parents and other elderly persons from the family of the bride and the groom. Livun is cleansing of the houses of both the bride and the groom before wedding. The participation of all female members in the Livun is customary.
Wanwun: It is the next part of the pre-marriage rituals and is held a few days before the wedding. Wanwun comprises of music sessions that are held every evening at both places and are attended by the relatives and neighbours of both sides. However, these are now-a-days not being observed by some strict Muslims.
Manziraat is the ceremony that takes place a day before the wedding is the most depressing night, full of futile activities. All kinds of nonsensical things are performed that night. It begins with kroolkhanun, a ceremony for decorating the main entrance of both the houses. Then, an elaborate bathing of the bride, then henna or maanz takes place. Women are invited in the ceremony and are served Kashmiri food.
Apart from these the other important parts of Kashmiri wedding traditions in the pre-marriage session are Bariyan, sending of thaals, sending of phoolkagehna (ornamnets made of flowers), mehendi (decoration of bride’s hand, palm and feet with mehndi), Diugun, Sanzvaru and Devgon. These are a burden on a poor family. A poor girl rejects marriage proposals because of these expenses. This marriage system in Kashmir has become a burden. They only sow poison for others who follow.
The actual wedding begins by following rituals like receiving the groom and his party by the bride’s family, vidai: (farewell of bride from her home) and then welcoming the newly-weds at the groom’s house. It is followed by some post-wedding rituals like, Satraat, Phirlath, and Rothkhabar. Again, these things make no sense. These only add to the burden on poor families. At times, civil marriages are also preferred by some to avoid waste of time and money. It is time now to simplify marriages and avoid extravagant hassles. Lest we forget- Life is a one shot, make it count but don’t force it to evolve only as a blot. A marriage is a soul union for a lifetime. Get married but do it simply and don’t make it burdensome. Marriage is a Feat – Treat it well.
—The author hails from Baramulla. He is a student of international relations, Kashmir conflict and south Asian countries. He can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org