Srinagar, July 13 (IANS) The weddings are still taking place, albeit quietly, in the Kashmir Valley. But invitations to wedding receptions have been cancelled en masse amid violence, curfews and shutdowns.
The valley, Srinagar included, has been virtually shuttered since the Friday killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani triggered street protests leaving over 30 people dead and hundreds injured.
The violent explosion took place when the valley was about to witness the beginning of marriage season after a month of Ramadan fasting.
The situation has forced families to take back their wedding invitations.
Local Urdu and English newspapers are filled with advertisements of the cancellations of gala receptions.
“Due to prevailing circumstances, Dawat-e-Walima of my son Nayeem Rizwan being organised on Sunday is being cancelled. Family regrets the inconvenience caused,” reads an ad in an Urdu daily.
The marriage ceremonies, however, are being done in an austere manner.
The Nikah ceremonies are taking place inside houses minus the guests as the movements of people have been restricted by security forces. The Nikah is done in the presence of the groom, the bride and two witnesses.
The celebrations that would have followed, however, have been axed. “We cancelled the entire decoration plans for the house. Now the marriage will be done in a humble and low profile way,” an anguished parent told IANS.
Added Muhammad Sultan, a resident of Qamarwari locality: “I had invited at least 800 people for the Walima of my son who was to get married on Friday. Now I have cancelled the invitation because of the killings that occurred in the past week.
“My conscience won’t allow me to host a party when hundreds are in distress,” he added.
Another family said it cancelled a wedding reception as there was no way to arrange the stuff required for the feast.
Maqbool Mir, whose daughter was to marry on Saturday, told IANS: “The marriage will take place but in a simple way.”
He said he had suffered a huge loss as he had made most of the arrangements.
“Marriages in Kashmir are planned months ahead. We had been preparing for this day and now we are in loss,” Mir moaned.
Most weddings in Kashmir are elaborate affairs. Guests are fed at length with a 12-meal feast called Wazwaan, requiring tonnes of mutton and spices.
The ongoing turmoil has also affected trade in the city which would have otherwise picked up due to the marriage season.
“We would make most profits this time (post Eid) when marriages are at peak. But the financial loss is not comparable to the loss of lives. So I have no regrets,” Ghulam Muhammad, a spice trader in Khankah in Srinagar, told IANS.
“My shop will remain closed till the killings stop,” Muhammad added.
(Ruwa Shah can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)