Unwed Daughters of Kashmir

Unwed Daughters of Kashmir

One major social issue to which very little or lax attention is paid is the one that pertains to a plethora of young women in Kashmir who stand unmarried. On account of demographic change and the concomitant increase in the population, the skewed gender ratio(s), the structural conditions that obtain here, poverty in and among sections of society , and above all the heavy burden of customs and ostentatious extravagance that accompanies marriages in Kashmir, many young women that have attained marriageable ages remain unwed. This condition is in the nature of a blot on society for, in the ultimate analysis the finger of blame points toward it. If there is a major reason that can be isolated for this condition, besides poverty it is custom , especially the extravagance and ostentatious displays that are a hall mark of Kashmiri weddings. Be it the extravagance in wazwan feasts, the dowry system and the accompanying accoutrements, that place a heavy burden on the families of brides(and , at times, even grooms), marriages impose a heavy cost. Another trend is that the families of brides seek “Well settled” men for the brides to be. While this is in the nature of a legitimate and even genuine expectation, but it has over time morphed into a fetish which constitutes another burden and thus leads to postponement of marriages. In the nature of both a sunnah and a social obligation, marriages should ideally be free from these encumbrances. The burden of the inability to get married, where society stands implicated, needs to be free from artificial and hypocritical conventions. It is then our unwed girls, especially from the poorer segments of society can get married. The onus for this falls on society. For starters, the unnecessary extravagance and show off in and during marriages must be given short shrift. This will reduce the financial burden on families and marriages and their ceremonies will become easier. Last but not the last, society must step forward and treat unwed daughters from vulnerable segments of society as its own daughters. The feeling must not be merely notional; substance should be added to it by pooling monies and then seeking out those that are of marriageable age and then helping them to get married. The issue of our unwed daughters is a serious one that merits serious, sustained and substantive attention. Let us rise to the occasion and help our daughters get married.