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Changing trends: In Kashmiri Weddings
By Hirra Azmat
Marriages are made in heaven and organized on earth, the adage goes. The earth experiences seasons and years and with it comes change. Change - the eternal unchanging law of nature that affects every phenomenon, every object on the earth. Consider the case of the Kashmiri wedding now. There was a time when all the wedding expenses were carried out by the groom's side. From wedding attire (Vardan in Kashmiri) of the bride to feast (Waazwan), everything was organized by groom's parents (soen. At the end of the ceremony, guests were provided with return gifts known as "Bogh".The things (Poh) required for the weddings were contributed by each relative. This trend continued till 1940's.

After the Maharaja rule and an economic surge, many new rituals were introduced in the weddings and gold began to replace sliver. An announcement of the wedding which is known as "Thaphtravin" was made in a different manner from that of today. Prof Majrooh Rashid - an expert in Kashmiri socio culture literature says: "The groom's father would visit the bride's place. He would communicate his decision through the cup of tea which he would be offered. If he dropped a one rupee coin or One hundred and one rupees in his cup, it meant he had accorded his sanction, if not, then it indicated the disapproval". The Palanquin (Doli) was used to ferry the bride to the groom's home. The people who lifted the palanquin were known as "Kahar".The custom of the "Dodhe Mouj' - paternal or maternal aunt who would stay with the bride for two to three days started according to Prof Rashid due to child marriages. The Dodhe Mouj would act as a guide and would assist the bride until she got familiar with ways and lifestyle of the groom's family.

Then the custom changed again. The siblings and other close relatives would visit at a shrine or some religious place due to the sanctity. The wedding attire was purely traditional. It consisted of Canvas Pheran which was adorned with intricate zariwork. Heavy Sliver jewelry was also used often. The dowry system started in the early 80's. The groom's side became more demanding and expected a lot of things from the bride's side. The 90's heralded an era of westernization in the vale as sari and other Indian outfits became popular. But this era was short lived due to the insurgency. Insurgency brought in an era of simple frugal marriages as militancy dominated the social scene.

However with the advent of the new millennium the wedding scenario in Kashmir too changed as situation gradually improved. The wedding preparations became more lavish and extravagant. Earlier the preparations confined to large feasts only but gradually décor too came into focus. The traditional shamiana was replaced by a more spacious and elaborate white house. The last few years have thrown up an interesting phenomenon. Sufiyan Bhat, a Kashmiri engineer based in the Middle East, speaks about a marriage of his cousin that was held recently. The family economically well off hired a wedding planner to cater to the marriage preparations. Though the trend has not yet caught popular attention yet it marks a sign of the things to come in future.

Initially, the Kashmiri weddings used to be a family affair in which the friends and relatives took effort in the wedding arrangements. But nowadays, not only are wedding planners being hired to look after preparations but to carry out this whole affair. Waiters from the most renowned hotels are hired who help with the catering service. A recent wedding of the daughter of a prominent restaurateur showed another trend where a music band performed at the marriage thus replacing the traditional" tumbak-naari."

Exotic venues and marriage halls are booked to conduct the ceremonies. The wedding ambience is now being beautified by bright and vibrant decorations. The decorations include the flower arrangements. Flowers baskets and bouquets are widely used to adorn the place where groom is supposed to sit. "Flowers were hardly used in weddings then except for decoration of the groom's car."

Spacious and colossal tents are now being rented for the wedding celebration. They are made up of special fabric and embellished with intricate hand work designs. They are fitted with multicolored lights having different effects.

Professional wedding photographers are hired to capture the images of the whole ceremony with artistic effects.

The wedding attire is also being modified with the passing years. Presently, brides prefer to wear less jewelry. They avoid wearing garish makeup. Thus the tale of Kashmiri wedding has been that of change.

News Updated at : Sunday, July 21, 2013
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