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Navigating the evolving landscape of marriage customs in Kashmir

March 26, 2024
WhatsApp Image 2024 03 26 at 08.37.54 dd9fd9a9

Syed Fiza Masoud Bukhari

Marriage customs in Kashmir boast a rich tradition, deeply intertwined with cultural heritage and familial bonds. However, recent years have witnessed significant transformations in these customs, propelled by a myriad of factors ranging from economic shifts to evolving societal norms. The metamorphosis of Kashmiri marriage customs presents both challenges and opportunities, demanding a nuanced examination of the changing terrain.
In recent times, Kashmiri weddings have undergone a marked evolution, with families grappling with escalating financial burdens. What were once modest celebrations steeped in simplicity have now given way to elaborate ceremonies characterized by extravagant expenditures. Today, weddings are often defined by opulent venues, sumptuous feasts, extravagant attire, lavish dry fruit and sweet assortments, an array of refreshments, wazwan delicacies, costly entertainment, and other extravagant embellishments, culminating in a substantial surge in overall expenses. Consequently, families find themselves ensnared in financial quandaries, struggling to navigate societal expectations amidst soaring costs. This shift threatens to erode the essence of traditional Kashmiri weddings, replacing simplicity with stress and complexity.
The exorbitant costs associated with weddings have emerged as a significant deterrent, prompting families to postpone their children’s marriages due to financial constraints. Moreover, societal pressures compel adherence to modern, lavish wedding standards, exacerbating the issue of delayed marriages in Kashmir. Particularly, women bear the brunt of delayed marriages, contending with concerns regarding social acceptance and familial obligations.
The evolving marriage customs in Kashmir reverberate across economic and cultural spheres, precipitating profound implications for families. As weddings increasingly prioritize materialistic trappings, marginalized segments, particularly the impoverished, find themselves unable to meet these newfound standards, plunging into a mire of stress, depression, and indebtedness. The toll of extravagant weddings extends beyond financial strain, precipitating instances of extreme stress, depression, and even fatal consequences such as heart attacks and suicidal ideation. Consequently, the authentic essence of Kashmiri marriage rituals stands imperiled, overshadowed by ostentation at the expense of cultural heritage preservation.
Amidst these challenges, there exist avenues for introspection and adaptation. Families are urged to reevaluate priorities, embracing modesty, simplicity, and inclusivity as viable alternatives in wedding ceremonies. Initiatives aimed at enhancing financial literacy and tempering societal expectations surrounding weddings hold promise in alleviating the burden on families and fostering timely marriages. Balancing adaptation with the preservation of cultural traditions is paramount, ensuring weddings remain a source of joy rather than a catalyst for late marriages, pressure, and financial strain.
Kashmiri communities are encouraged to collaborate in crafting weddings that are equitable, meaningful, and sustainable for all, irrespective of socioeconomic standing. By championing such initiatives, the path is paved towards easing the burden on families and curtailing the prevalence of delayed marriages.

Author is a student of journalism and mass communication hailing from Tangmarg and can be reached at [email protected]

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