Hunting a match

The hunt for the prospective match is the most difficult part of the marriage in Kashmir. Ikhlaq Qadri reports

engagement

Amir is busy serving juice to guests at his residence in old city of Srinagar. His parents are jubilant and sitting in the drawing room attending to the relatives, neighbours and friends who have come to congratulate the family.  Amir’s elder sister Shabu had got engaged a few days back. The family’s search of finding good match for their only daughter came to an end after two and half years of untiring efforts.

“This really was testing time. I had never imagined it would be tough to this extent,” says Shabu’s father Sajjad Ahmad.

Shabu completed her post graduation in beginning of year 2009. She taught in a local private school. As the family started looking for a match for their daughter, middlemen started to frequent their home – with details of prospective match. The middlemen included male, female and the eunuchs. The initial days saw huge rush and at times it was difficult for family to manage. “There were problems when two or more (middlemen) used to come at the same time. We made them to sit in different rooms and different people in the family talked to them, “says her mother Shaheen.

The process incurred huge cost as no middlemen leaves without taking at least, around Rs 200. The mental trauma was more than that, he said. Getting details of many proposed bridegrooms and to analyse which one to select for further investigation was a daily affair. Starting with verifying from the ancestral home to present address it continues till every detail is confirmed. The last phase being to see the boy and how he looks.

“This is a stage wise process but hectic,” says Sajjad.

The two and half years to that went into finding the match was an ordeal, he said. The matches they were getting for their daughter in some cases were not meeting the criteria set by the family and in other the family was not meeting the criteria. They were searching for a match within their caste and in the same age group as their daughter.

Most of the families falling in the desired category were looking for a working girl, preferably in government which Shabu was not. The stalemate continued. The preliminary investigation kept going on and at instances the girl was seen by the boy’s family and same was done by the girl’s family.  Time reached when there was complete frustration in the family. Shabu was getting more and more stressed and even more her parents.
“Papa I won’t marry,” she suggested to her father.

Finally one of her cousins showed interest in her and they got engaged.

Shabu was lucky. There are many instances where the family failed to get the good match and with the result the girls cross the marriageable age and become liability for life. For that matter the boys suffer in the same way.

Shahzada is in her 50’s. Her father started to look for a good match when she was just 25. Today after more than 28 years she is still unmarried. Her father wanted to get her the best match and in the process overlooked many suitable matches. The middlemen lost interest and stoppied visiting their place. When the father realised it was too late and he crumbled under pressure and lost his life. Already without a mother she lost her father. Only support left was her brother who also surrendered when he searched for few years. He decided to get married and is now enjoying happy married life.

The families usually give their bio-data in writing and the middlemen keep it in their diaries. Heaps of papers are lying on the desk of Aijaz Ahmad. He is finding match for his son. Aijaz is desirous of having a daughter-in-law who is willing to move outside with his son. Most of the prospective matches and proposals don’t want to send their daughters outside the valley. Moomin a recent management pass out wants to make his career in gulf but waiting to get a life partner so he can settle down. The search is on and the wait seems to be unending.

Marriage in Kashmir takes a lot of time but the first phase of getting a good match is more crucial. This is the stepping stone which don’t come easily at the right place and at the right time.

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