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Are Kashmir marriages turning into vulgar display of wealth?

Monitor News Bureau

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The dishes kept on coming. Junaid had to unbuckle his belt. The filled-to-the-brim trami served earlier was now overflowing. Although the cold autumn evening had made its presence felt, Junaid was perspiring.
It was the warm, spicy permeation that had filled the air in the hall – a huge room where the wedding feast was served to 40 odd people that made up the groom’s party at 11 pm in Anantnag.
Minutes before the feast, Junaid and others had already gulped down a soft-drink, while munching on several varieties of dry fruits.
And then, as the dastarkhan was laid down, the race to ultimate calorie intake began. Other than those existing four or five-odd dishes that usually garnish the trami, a platter for four, the party was expecting five to seven more dishes to be served.
“But the hosts hardly stopped at seven, or even a dozen. I think they served 40 dishes or even more. We lost the count,” says Junaid.
He recalls the party being served with normal rista (a meat ball), then rista with kaju (cashewnut) in it, and then another rista with apricot in it. Dodd maaz (mutton cooked in milk), rogan josh, tabakh maaz, kabab, fish kabab, shami kabab, chicken kabab, an entire chicken, chicken cooked in milk, a huge bowl of pulow garnished with yet more chicken and kabab, at least four or five varieties of whole mutton pieces cooked in different styles, cheese in tomato, cheese in spinach, and mushrooms…
Even hearing out Junaid list was an acute gastronomical challenge.
“Only half way, I had eaten way more than my fill,” he says.
The rest was collected in the plastic bags kept in the basket which carried bottles of carbonated and mineral water, assortments of soap, toothpicks, wet tissues and other whatnots. Then there was also the almost-forgotten bowl of curd and the platter of chutneys that needed to be sorted out.
To Junaid’s and other attendees rescue, finally the decider Gushtaba arrived. The small ice-cream bowls served soon after were for calming down the hullaballoo in the stomach, or, at least, what the common (mis) understanding was.
“The party left with the bride at around 1:30 am,” says Junaid.
What he witnessed was just only a little more extravagant version of the already extravagant weddings that Kashmir is witnessing, especially, this year.
Exorbitant spending on food and newest forms of costly innovations drub the government’s so-call ‘guest control’ order it had invoked from April and, more vitally, the basic message of moderation in Islam.
The killings and maiming of last year had, to some extent, reserved this overindulgence with many marriages being conducted in a simple manner.
However, given the nature of recent weddings witnessed in Srinagar and townships of many other districts, moderation has been long checked out.
Besides, spending on food, a costly addition picking up pace this year is heavy expense on the makeup, especially that of the bride.
A Srinagar-based makeup artist (name withheld) says she charged anything between Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 on grease-painting one bride.
“We are professionals. People are happy to pay the money if they get the right service,” says the make-up artist.
According to her, brides have to book the service in advance.
“We have several makeup plans available with us. The brides choose according to their affordability. It usually takes between six to eight hours to get a bride ready,” she adds.
Videography, which was not considered a costly affair earlier, too has upped in pomp and show.
The Kashmir Monitor spoke to witnesses of at least two such wedding ceremonies in Srinagar and north Kashmir recently where professional videographers, who were hired to shoot the entire wedding, charged in lakhs.
“This is a new trend. Hiring a professional videographer, who, unlike earlier days, gives you only 8 to 10 minutes of an output video using several cameras including the ones fitted on drones. The marriage we attended was shot by a professional wedding photographer from New Delhi,” the attendee said.
A new-into-the-field professional videographer, who shot a wedding in Srinagar recently, said he charged Rs 1 lakh for the video, adding that “the one shot by the Delhi-based photographer must have fetched him at least Rs 6 to 10 lakh, given his experience and standard”.
While there are no holds barred in lavish yet needless spending, the other issue that wedding feasts pull up is massive wastage and use of harmful disposable items.
The trend of serving water from a jug into a steel glass to guests during the feast is long gone now and even considered derisive. Instead all the assortments and drinks are served in plastic cups and bottles.
By the end of the feast, the disposable items are collected in huge plastic bags and dumped along with large quantity of rice left uneaten by most of the guests.
The Guest Control order, which limited the number of guests and dishes, on paper at least, has, meanwhile, been contested in the High Court.
“The matter is sub-judice. One Banquet Hall Association has filed a petition against the (Guest Control) order in the High Court. We are expecting a favourable decision,” said Minister for food, Chaudhary Zulfkar Ali.

 

 
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Militancy related incidents in Kashmir have seen a downturn: Army Chief

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Feb 20: Army Chief General MM Naravane on Thursday said that militancy- related incidents have seen a downturn and the Army is maintaining pressure on “terror groups”.

“There is an external dimension to the decrease in cross-border terrorism,”he said.

When asked on the health condition of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the army chief only said security forces are geared up to take care of any situation.

 

On the proposed creation of a theatre command exclusively for J&K, he said there will be detailed discussions before anything is finalised.

“Indian Army does not discriminate any soldier based on religion, caste, creed, or even gender. The outlook of the Indian Army has been throughout like this and that is why we started inducting women officers as early as in 1993,” Gen Naravane told reporters.

Indian Army has taken the initiative to induct women in rank and file, and the first batch of 100 women soldiers is undergoing training at Corps of Military Police Centre and School, he said.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a welcome one as it brings out a sense of clarity and purpose to gainfully employ officers for better efficiency of the organisation. I must assure that everybody in the Indian Army including women officers will be given equal opportunity to contribute to the nation as also progress in their careers,” he said hailing the verdict as enabling.

Letters are being sent to women officers asking whether they will prefer permanent commissioning, the Army chief said.

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Global investors’ summit: LG led delegation to meet India Inc leaders in Mumbai today

Press Trust of India

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Mumbai, Feb 20: Top officials from the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory administration will visit the country”s financial capital and meet industry leaders on Friday, more than six months after the virtual abrogation of Article 370.

Led by Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, the officials will be pitching about the business possibilities in the restive Kashmir Valley to leaders of India Inc, officials said on Thursday.

A global investors” summit is being planned at capital Srinagar in May, and the event in a city hotel is organised by industry lobby CII, which is also a national partner for the summit, they said.

 

The union government”s bold moves on the vexed Kashmir issue in August have been met with mixed response, with many going public with the prolonged shutdown of telecom connectivity in the valley and the continuing detentions of political leaders, while others have welcomed the move.

At the time of the announcement, the Centre had assured that carving out union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will fasten economic development of the region through focused attention.

There were also reports of mega projects like a massive solar project in the mountaineous Ladakh region being launched.

The summit in May will be a showcase of investment opportunities across sectors, officials said.

Other officials and bureaucrats, including Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, the secretary for industries and commerce; Anoo Malhotra, the director of industries and commerce; and Rohit Kansal, the principal secretary of planning development and monitoring, among others, are expected to be present on Friday.

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Second batch of Union ministers to visit JK in April

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Feb 20: The second batch of about 40 Union ministers is likely to visit Jammu and Kashmir in April to get first-hand information about various development schemes initiated thereby both the central government and the Union Territory administration, officials said on Thursday.

The Prime Minister”s Office (PMO) will decide the composition of the ministerial delegation that will undertake the follow up of the first visit of 37 Union ministers, who had toured Jammu and Kashmir last month.

“A second batch of about 40 Union ministers may undertake a visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Dates and composition of the team have not been fixed yet but it will be done soon after the Budget session of Parliament,” a government official said.

 

After the recess, the second part of the budget session will begin on March 2 and it will end on April 3.

The PMO will finalise the list of the ministers and each minister will be assigned a particular district and focus will be on the Kashmir Valley, the official said.

Some of the ministers of the first batch may also be part of the second batch, he said.

The ministers will assess the development initiatives undertaken by the central government as well as the UT administration on the ground and they will not talk about political issues, the official said.

By interacting with the locals, they will try to get first-hand information about the roads, healthcare facilities, power situation, functioning of academic institutions etc. in the UT, he added.

As many as 37 central ministers had visited Jammu and Kashmir last month following a directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wanted an honest assessment of the various welfare schemes being implemented there.

Among those who had visited Jammu and Kashmir were Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, ministers of state for home G Kishan Reddy and Nityanand Rai.

The Union ministers have already submitted their feedback to the PMO on the implementation of various development schemes there.

There were two sets of feedback — one on the initiatives taken by the UT administration and the other on the Centre”s initiatives — another official said.

Most of the central ministers stayed overnight at their respective places of visit such as Baramulla, Ganderbal, Doda, besides others.

In August last year, the Centre abrogated Article 370 provisions of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into UTs — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Since then, the Centre has been closely monitoring the on the ground implementation of various development programmes there.

Jammu and Kashmir is currently under the President”s rule.

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