With each culture evolving its own ways of celebrations, marriage is an event of lifetime. After a break during the Holy fasting month of Ramzan, the marriage season is back in the Kashmir valley, where hundreds of couples are entering into wedlock everyday.
Surprisingly the butcher shops and those selling chicken remained closed since the marriage season started after the Eid-ul-Fitr with divisional authorities watching helplessly at a time when the government is functioning from the summer capital, Srinagar.
A number of marriages were solemnised on the second day of Eid in the Kashmir valley, particularly in cities and towns. However, people living in rural and remote areas prefer to conduct marriages of their children after the farming season is over. On the contrary, in many remote and far flung areas marriages are solemnised even during snowfall in winter.
It is believed that marriages are arranged in the heaven and solemnised on earth. But it has become hell for middle and lower middle classes because of the expenditure involved now.
Barring in few cases, which could be counted on finger tips, lakhs of rupees are being spent on arranging feasts for guests during the marriage ceremonies besides dowry items.
Against just about five to seven dishes which were being made of meat and two vegetables about two decades ago, it has reached to more than 40 dishes of meat and chicken. The function of a marriage ceremony has also increased from just two to three days in the past, to more than a week.
However, during the period of militancy for more than two decades, when marriages were being conducted during the day time, the number of guests and dishes were very limited. Now when the situation has considerably improved, we are back on square one, even having crossed all limits on wasteful expenditures on feasts and other arrangements.
It was blessing in disguise during 2008 when hundreds of marriages "Nikkah" were performed in a simple way in presence of families of bride and bridegroom besides close relatives after announcing cancellation of ceremonies through local newspapers.
Commendably due to efforts by some social and religious organisations, youths, not much in number, have started to enter into wedlock without demanding or accepting any dowry and feasts from the bride. They just take the bridegroom after taking simple tea in her house.
Contrary to this, in majority ceremonies a bridegroom is accompanied by 60 to 120 baraties, means 15 to 30 " Tramies" ( four persons are eating together in a "trami") which costs about Rs 3000 per trami.
Besides hundreds of relatives and guests, including neighbours, are being served separately. In high and some middle classes, the ceremonies last for five to ten days.
"Cooks", called as "Wazas" in Kashmir, charge from Rs 8000 to Rs 12000 for cooking a quintal of meat. And on an average about three to ten quintals of meat is prepared for marriage ceremonies, depends upon the social status of the host. In majority cases the meat and rice goes waste and finds way into drains, river Jehlum and other water bodies.
For the past about a decade, the use of disposal articles, majority of them made of plastic and polythene, during marriage ceremonies, has increased many folds.
Before the eruption of militancy in early 90s, local tap water was supplied to guests, as water bodies in Kashmir were not polluted.
It is said that water from the Kashmir valley was being supplied to central leaders and ministers, including first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, particularly from Cheshmashahi spring. But now besides mineral water, mostly being imported from outside the valley, soft drinks are served to guests on important ceremonies.
The marriage event is no longer a family governable occasions where one needs the different service suppliers to be reached and talked terms. Even in Kashmir people have stared to hire wedding planners to bring in A to Z placement for to occasion.
However, this has badly affected the majority middle and lower middle class families who find it difficult to conduct the marriage of their children under the circumstances. The people of lower class are lucky as they go for marriage ceremonies of their children as per their own strength without any wasteful expenditure.
Because of the marriage ceremonies, majority butchers shops remained closed as they find ready-made customers instead of sitting on their shops whole day, also getting good price. Shortage of chicken, being supplied for marriage ceremonies, has also been felt in the valley after Holy Ramzan, when chicken were easily available with less rate as there were no marriages.
It is being said that butchers, who openly defied the government rates and sell Rs 300 per kg of meat, wanted to sell it now at Rs 350 per kg. Butchers are getting Rs 350 per kg for marriage ceremonies.
The Kashmir Citizen Council (KCC) has blamed the divisional administration for failing to implement the rates.
The KCC general secretary Imdad Saqi said it was agreed at a meeting by the divisional administration before the Holy month of Ramzan that import of meat will be decontrolled to bring down the prices. But for some unknown reasons this has not happened, giving a clear signal to whole sale meat seller to do whatever they wanted, he alleged.