Wedding is the pious ceremony where two souls unite in marriage. It is a symbol of love and commitment, a special and unique occasion in life. But extravagance has ruined this great institution. The norm in society is to celebrate weddings lavishly. This norm has set in everywhere across the globe, but even then, Kashmir’s extravagant weddings are something hard to match.
The high class of society can afford such weddings with ease but they leave the middle class in great distress. The extravagance starts from the wazwan, which contains a large number of dishes, especially of meat, like rista, kabab, tabakh maaz, rogan josh, gushtaba, and yakhni pulao. The estimated quantity of mutton consumed in wazwan in just one lavish wedding is 10- 12 quintals. This extravagance does not stop only with mutton, but goes on to the gold given to the bride. Gold choker sets, rani sets, gold coins, cocktail rings and what not is traded in such marriages. Middle-class families are so hard pressed to meet these demands that they are often unable to marry their daughters at a suitable age. This has led to marriages taking place at a late age in Kashmir. Loans are taken from banks just for weddings. The expenses include those on make-up and photo shoots. It has become a fashion to upload the photos and videos on social media, so professional photographers assume importance.
Weddings are held at grand venues. Rituals from other religions are incorporated to add to the festivity. Bachelor’s party, haldi ceremony, and many others involve separate preparations and expenses of lakhs of rupees. Some people even serve gifts of gold to guests who accompany the groom to the bridegroom’s house in the baraat. Lakhs of rupees charged by caterers and decorators force the middle class to eat humble pie.
Dowry is another matter that makes marriages difficult for the middle class. It is also a social evil that leads to tortures and crimes against women. It must be uprooted from society.
Some might argue that lavish weddings give employment to the poorer sections, such as tent workers, electricians, cooks, etc. But one must never forget that these jobs are temporarily and seasonal. Also, our religion Islam teaches us to keep marriages simple. It does not encourage lavish and grand ceremony. In these times of Covid-19 pandemic, there is an opportunity to escape this extravagance. Simple weddings should instead be held and these should become a norm in our society. We should not follow such customs as place a burden on parents. It will not only be relief for the poor and middle class but will also reduce the incidence of late marriages, female foeticide and discrimination against female children.
The writer is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication at Islamic University of Science and Technology.