Saturday, September 15, 2012

Attending A Kashmiri Wedding


I have just returned from a trip to Kashmir that began as I was invited for two weddings.  It was a hurried on-the spot decision to go; I threw in a few clothes, other essentials and flew to Srinagar.  There is now an almost direct flight from Bangalore (with a halt in Delhi) which has made Kashmir quite accessible to the southern region of the country.

The last two years have been relatively peaceful in the valley and tourism has surged.  Hotels have been packed and roads jammed with vehicles.  This was the off season yet I saw a fair number of visitors and hotel bookings were still hard to get.  I assumed this was because it was wedding season in Kashmir - just after the weeks of fasting and before the onset of the winter harvest, but in fact the visitors were largely tourists.  The weather is normally clear at this time but this year the rains have been late everywhere.  I reached to find cloudy skies that burst open to release torrents of rain that lasted right through the wedding ceremonies.

The wedding  was in a small town near Pahalgam (two siblings were getting married on consecutive days- this is quite common in Kashmir; it makes sense to arrange events when infrastructure can be shared and family can keep themselves free for two or three days at a stretch).



We arrived at the family house to find preparations in full swing.  An open area had been covered for the cooking.  An array of pots and pans stood by a long shallow trench that was being filled with firewood.  Huge pieces of mutton were carried in, spices were washed and cleaned.  The open kitchen was being prepared for cooking.  The stoves were lit, several men sat with wooden slabs and mallets, pounding the meat for hours before it was put into the clay and metal pots and simmered over the wood fire.  While this was in progress, another tent had been set up where folk dancers and musicians would perform while family and friends sat around.





On the first night we represented the groom's side and went to the bride's house for a late night-early morning feast (wazwan) that lasted several hours, in which we were served all possible kinds of mutton dishes along with lots of rice and tiny amounts of vegetables.


There was much singing and dancing at both houses.  We returned early morning with the newly wed bride who was welcomed her to her new home with more singing.

Meanwhile the mehndi raat for the next day's wedding (where we represented the girl's side) was in progress.  Henna was applied in intricate patterns on the girl's hand and subsequently on the hands of the other women who were present.  Folk  musicians and dancers sang and played till just before dawn broke and then everyone dispersed to get a few hours of sleep.



The following day we witnessed the nikah or actual wedding (which takes place in the girl's house).  The prospective bride and groom are not present on this occasion.  Instead they are represented by close family members who initially ask the bride and groom (in the presence of two witnesses from each side) whether they agree to this marriage.  After they have consented, the representatives, the witnesses and the qazi (religious head) meet in the girl's house.  The boy's family provides a sum of money and jewellery which is handed directly to the girl.  A contract is drawn up stating the amounts given, the names of the representatives and the witnesses who are present at the ceremony.  This is signed by the participants and the wedding is complete.  Dates and cups of milk are handed out followed by large plates of meat.  Some of the food is consumed, some carried back, then everyone disperses.  In the evening, the groom and some members of his family visit the bride's house where they are welcomed with songs and gifts.  There is much feasting and music after which they return home along with the bride.

Seven days later, the newly wed couple visit the bride's house where they spend a few days.  This marks the end of the wedding ceremonies.

1 comment:

Arjun kapoor said...

You are searching for best bridal mehndi artist in delhi,Bridal Mehndi Designer in Delhi, Top Bridal Mehandi Artists in Delhi. Please Call – +91 9958023001 ( Satish Dwivedi)

Bridal Mehndi Designer And Artist in Delhi


#Header1_headerimg { margin: 0px auto }