Nikah Mubarak

By Khursheed Wani

Weddings with extravaganza are linked with the state of normalcy in Kashmir. In 2010, the ministry of home affairs, in its annual report, described the return of late evening weddings as one of the many signs of establishing peace in the region. Serving sumptuous Wazwaan feast, decorating the wedding house with lights, hiring musical bands to entertain guests and carrying baraat with a cavalcade of trendy cars to a befitting reception at the bride’s house or alternate venue late in the night amid sounds of firecrackers are the attributes of extravagant Kashmiri weddings. Last year, the number of weddings was much less due to the prevailing situation and this year the back log has also added to the routine number of ceremonies. After the Eid festivities, the wedding season will peak.

The festivities are not seen at every wedding. Over the years, a trend is growing in Kashmir to solemnize weddings in the simplest possible manner away from pomp and show. Son of the owner of a leading public school in Srinagar, recently got married. A simple feast was served to closest relatives. The groom, clad in a white kurta-pyjama and a skull cap, left in an undecorated car with his four uncles as baratis to fetch his bride. There was no wanwun, the folk song sung by women standing in rows with interlocked arms. By midnight, the wedding couple arrived with simplistic grace, again without any hullabaloo.

The family saved a good amount of money by going for a simple wedding. The money did not remain in their bank accounts. They spent it on social causes. The wedding was arranged one and celebrating it in a simplistic way was the families own decision influenced by the teachings of Islam.

But an organized social movement also exists to prevent spendthrift weddings. Fayaz Ahmad Zaroo, a religious scholar says that ever since he founded Hamsafar Marriage Counseling Cell in Srinagar in 2005, he has arranged around 14,000 weddings in the most simplistic manner.  He claims the simple marriages have helped the people to save billions of rupees. Most of the people save the money for their own welfare, but there are countless instances when the people saved money to spend on social causes.

Hamsafar’s working is simple. They registered prospective bachelors with a condition that if a match is found at the Cell, the marriage ceremony must be held in the prescribed simplest fashion. In their scheme of things, a groom arrives at bride’s place with a skeletal baraat over a cup of kehwa. The nikah ceremony is held at the local mosque and dates are distributed among the participants.

Tariq Shah, son of a senior government official returned from Middle East to marry a local girl through Hamsafar. His parents say that they saved an amount of Rs 1.5 lacs and donated it to some poor cancer patients. A separate amount was given to two poor girls for their marriage.

A college professor saved an amount of Rs 2.5 lacs and specifically donated the amount for the people who had lost their eyesight, or were at the verge of it, for their treatment.

A businessman in old Srinagar solemnized the wedding of his son in 2016 without serving wazwaan to people or showing off his wealth. The businessman opened a cutting and tailoring institute to provide vocational training to girls in the vicinity. At the end of their training, a sewing machine was donated to each participant.

Fayaz Ahmad Zarro

More impressive was a doctor from north Kashmir who married a Karachi-trained medico through Hamsafar.  Zaroo says during the nikah ceremony, he explained the meaning of sadqa-jariyah, the charity that yields recurring virtues even after one’s death like plantation or construction of washroom, road, bridge or other public utility to the newly-weds. They  were impressed and decided to construct a vital bridge in their village that helped a lot of people. A senior doctor has kept a bank cheque for Rs 1 lakh with his children, saved on account of simple wedding of his son, to distribute it among poor people after his death. He purchased medicine for another Rs 2 lakh and distributed it among poor patients at a premier Srinagar hospital.

Another, sensitive couple saved Rs 4 lakh. They identified an educated young man in their locality who was unemployed with a large family to take care of. The couple purchased a brand new auto-rickshaw for the youngster. He is now settled and happy.

Some people’s philanthropy is , however, showy or misplaced. A caretaker of a prominent orphanage told me that they have never been approached by anyone with donations on account of their savings through a simple marriage. He said some people come with cauldrons filled with leftover wazwaan but they have taken a conscious decision not to accept it.

The movement of simple nikah is gaining momentum. It is gaining currency among wealthy people as well who were fond of pomp and show in the society. However, it is required to give this movement a proper direction so that the saved money or resources are utilised in a better way.

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