In Kashmir, the bridegroom and his huge baraat is welcomed with dhol-nagarah and band-baja. It also involves a huge cost on frivolities, verging on bid’ah (innovation in Islam). The massive financial burden sometimes forces parents to commit suicide.
Like people from other parts of the country, Kashmiris too 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 won’t guarantee a successful everlasting marriage. However, sometimes it is over done. One is free to enjoy the marriage feast. Arrange and engage in cooking some delicious wazwan. But keep it simple. And, no dowry, please. It is an evil.
The unique Kashmiri wedding starts with matching the horoscope (sitaar) of the bride and the groom . Our people stress 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 etc.
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, which is followed by the meeting of parents and other elderly persons from the family of bride and the groom. The two parties meet in a temple and exchange flowers that symbolizes the formalisation of the ceremony. The bride’s family invites the groom party for a meal that comprises traditional Kashmiri food. Cash, dry fruits, candies and a pot containing nabad (misri) is sent by the bride’s family to the groom’s house.
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 wedding. Wanwun are 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. The message that it is un-Islamic is spreading, but it will take time to make people conscious.
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. 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 things 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.
Wedding starts by following the rituals like- receiving the groom and his party by the bride’s family, Vidai: (the farewell of bride from her home) & then welcoming the newly-weds at groom’s house. The newly wedding is also followed by some post-wedding rituals like, Satraat, Phirlath, and Roth Khabar. And these things make no sense in real sense. These only add burden to the poor but moral families. This is the cause ‘love marriages’ are often preferred over ‘arranged’ one’s. Civil marriages are also preferred by some to avoid waste of time and money. It is time now to simplify marriages and avoid hassles. Lest we forget- Life is a one shot, make it count but don’t force it to evolve only a blot. But marriage is a soul union for lifetime. Get married but let other ways to other’s married. Marriage is a Feat – Treat it well.
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