A fashion statement

As weddings in Kashmir become an extravagant affair, the bridal and grooms’ apparel have gotten more trendy and flashy. Aliya Bashir reports

Over the years a lot of glamour has crept into marriages in Kashmir. Not only the brides but the men getting married take a lot of pains in selecting their attire to look nice on the wedding day. The change has spawned an industry.

Lehngas have replaced the traditional Shalwaar Kamiz as the bridal wear and the embroidered sherwanis have pushed out formal suits from grooms’ attire. Beauticians, Henna artists are booked by the bride’s family months in advance for the D-day.

“Times have changed. Everyone wants to look perfect and to give special attention to everything from attire to accessories. Today men are equally conscious of their dress and looks as brides and are making prior appointments with hair stylists, buying designer dresses and other accessories for the wedding day,” says Abdul Qayoom Bhat, a groom, who is getting married next month.

A wedding in Kashmir takes months of planning with people purchasing everything from designer lehenga cholis to sherwani’s, from fashionable turbans to trendy jewellery to designer footwear making it a costly and time consuming affair.

“My marriage was scheduled for the first week of May this year and I tried my best to look extremely beautiful. I purchased most of my wedding suits, footwear, purses and jewellery at Delhi along with the fabric for my lehanga which was also designed and stitched from a boutique in Delhi,” says Asima Syed. “On my wedding day, I had put all the accessories matching with my pink lehanga even my gold jewellery had engraved embellishment of the same colour.”

Currently the lehnga choli trousseau is in fashion in Kashmir with embroidered and silver laced ones being the most in demand. Some women want bridal dresses with embellished hemlines, ornamental motifs or other embellishment works like dabka, naqshi, beads, glitter and cut-glass

“The lehengas comes in myriad styles. There is a great change from traditional to contemporary cholis,” says owner of a boutique at Sanat Nagar. As the marriage ceremonies in Kashmir get extravagant, so have the bridal apparel. Nowadays many rich people want jewellery that matches the bridal.

“Very few people these days go for complete gold jewellery on their wedding day as was the case until a few years back. Today most of the brides prefer wearing simple sets while some want the precious stones like emerald and ruby in their jewellery to match it with their bridal dress and some opt for a more traditional and heavy looking set,” says a jeweller, wishing not to be named.

The brides have a reasonable number of options as far as jewellery is concerned.

“The necklaces with an antique and traditional look are very popular amongst brides while even some brides are giving preference to diamond and white gold jewellery sets,” says a jeweller in Hari Singh High Street.

The groom has fewer choices in apparel and accessories.

“We have a variety of styles available for men like sherwani’s with embroidery or zardozi work according to a groom’s preference.  We often match the turbans with the colour and style of the outfit,” says shopkeeper Abdul Rehman Khan, who sells groom’s wear at Zaina Kadal, Srinagar.

Though selecting the wedding apparel takes much time and attention of the bride and the groom and their families and friends, it still leaves some time for visits to beauty parlours before the marriage ceremony.

“These days’ men also take up facial cleansing and toning sessions in parlours to look good on the day of their marriage. The brushing up of looks and personality is worth the effort as marriage is once in a lifetime occasion,” says the owner of a recently opened parlour for men in Malaratta, Srinagar.

However, most of these dresses like lehnga or a sherwani is not worn on other occasions. And many people get these dresses on rent for the occasion. The barbers in Kashmir have been traditionally renting out grooms’ turbans. Now there are many shops which rent out other wedding apparel.

“There has always been a tradition of getting a grooms’ turban on rent. Now you can hire a sherwani or a lehnga also. That makes sense also. Why should one spend thousands of rupees on apparel which he or she is going to wear for less than five hours?” says octogenarian Abdul Rehman, a retired school headmaster.

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