Khandar – The Kashmiri Wedding – part 4

Kashmiri Wedding, Post-engagement period

What started off as a small note on the food preparation for Kashmiri Weddings has somehow got me into putting into words my experiences, perceptions, ideas on Kashmiri Wedding in a series of articles. Part 2 talked of the match-making process, while the last article – part 3 – talked of the ‘Nishayn’ or engagement, this article will go ahead on the post-engagement period of Kashmiri Wedding. [We also had another article in the series about the village wedding specifically about Kupwara]

Dating the Kashmiri way

Now once the engagement process is done, somehow the society thinks its ok for the bride to be and groom to be to go for dates officially. Yet again there has been a satirical wedding song about it “Khandaras broonthi chakras lagyo paeriye” (You can download it here from downloads.qazimamoon.com) – referring to the dating process before marriage being a new custom that we Kashmiris have started.

Point to note is that some years back ‘dating’ was something considered a hush hush thing. Couples who did go out together (to watch movies, shikara rides, mughal gardens) would do so hoping nobody they know sees them. Being caught ‘red-handed’ was something to be really embarrassed about.

And going back a few decades, dating was unheard of. The bride and the groom did not meet until they were married.

Obviously things are not going in the right direction. While wanting to become ‘modern’ – our society is leaving behind the values that make us what we are… and yet we Kashmiris pride in being Kashmiris…
And the customs
The time duration of the ‘engagement period’ can be short – 6 months and can go on for years. As expected many of the engagements that continue for years do not end up in marriage. This is my personal observation and maybe this is something maybe the sociologists can study.

Anyhow, this is not the point I wish to discuss. We are talking of the customs that ‘have’ to be followed during the post-engagement period. We have things like “Roz-kushada” – which is something sent (think of money, gold, wazwan etc.) by the boy’s family to girl’s family during Ramadan to tell the girl to eat now, coz you wont get to eat later…. What? naaah. Just kidding. The Roza-Kushada is meant as a custom to sort of hope that the fasting is easy. I don’t know the actual purpose of it – but well it is there.

Then there is the Eid visits where the girl/boy get tons of eidi by the in-laws. For some it could be monetary, for others it could be in terms of gold (yes, there is a lot of gold changing hands in Kashmiri marriages)

And yes, when winter starts, the girl’s family generally sends Harrisa (made of mutton cooked into a very thick paste -*very yummy) to the boy’s family to welcome the winter.

Now, did I miss any other customs? I am sure there are many others that have been forgotten and many more that have been invented to complicate things. Reader’s please help out in comments section.

And the girl’s wardan
Throughout the engagement period, the girl’s family is set towards completing the wardan(things that the bride would take to her new home) for the girl. This wardan consists of shoes, bags, clothes, shawls, in many suitcases packed for the new house. These are usually sufficient for the girl to use for a few years at least.
And of course, then there is the purchase of gold jewellery and ‘coins’ by both sides (bride’s family and groom’s family) to be gifted during weddings. The gifts are to be given to various members of the boy’s family and to the girl by the groom’s family.

The whole extended family is rather involved in the process of selecting and approving the collections which will soon be put on display during the wedding.

We Kashmiris are people pleaser and yet please nobody – not even ourselves…

 

Khandar – The Kashmiri Wedding – Kupwara

A few years back I had the honour of being invited to a wedding feast in Kupwara. To me a chance to visit the countryside in Kashmir is always something I look forward to – not only does it pristine unmatched beauty thrill me, the simplicity of its people, the sweet smile of the kids who grow up away from the ‘city-life’ makes me feel like this is the real Kashmir. Kashmir away from the ugly influences that makes us act like someone else.

Anyhow, that is a different discussion altogether. I am here to write about the Kashmiri Wedding – Kupwara style! 🙂 Travelling from Srinagar to Kupwara wasnt exactly very easy especially due to the traffic on the highway.  The roads are pretty well built (general countryside comparison) so it wasn’t much of a problem reaching Kupwara otherwise.

Within Kupwara itself it took some time to figure out where exactly our host lived and we ended up driving through a streamlet. (I loved it – absolutely!). The road within the village was very difficult to travel through especially walking with little baby guests. Anyhow, we reached – late. Better late then never.

By the time we reached the bride had already been brought home. There was music and drum beating and the wanwun(traditional wedding singing) started. We dropped our stuff and rushed back down to view the festivities. The women sang together, standing and singing. The wanwun style was different from the Srinagar style, and the environment was completely different. Nobody looked made up to pretend to be someone else. Women carrying children, children running here and there, some groups up and some down (on the uneven terrain), singing and happy. There was a small tent(shamiyana) where the bride was. I made my way in the tent scanning to look for the bride. In srinagar the bride would be all decked up and sitting on some arrangement close to being a throne. I coudln’t find the bride. The tent was packed with women sitting so close to each other that there was hardly space to walk through.

And then finally I saw her – there was someone clad in a burka and she was the bride. And I thought how apt. The bride all dressed up is the last thing we should put up for display as we do in the city. The bride dresses up for her groom and not to display her charms to the guests who have come. I was impressed.

The children had started playing with firecrackers and confetti – jubilant having got their hands on them.

We (being special guests) got special treatment and the food was ready to be served so we were called up in the exclusive room to have our lunch. We were famished and more than happy to hear the food announcement. Gladly we walked into the mudhouse and the room on the first floor. The room was simple – mud walls. Window with a beautiful view of the wide expanse of paddy fields and the mountains in the backdrop. We washed our hands with the tash-naer as is traditionally done and pretty much jumped onto the wazwan. The wazwan was way simpler than the city extravagant wazwan, tasted different too somehow, but alhamdulillah was good. While we ate, we heard music and with my hand still having food on it, I crawled to the window to see- and I literally wanted to jump outta the window to join the festivities. There was the sword dance going on. Tried to take the video with one hand and (the other still having food clung to it) and a little boy of 2 tugging at me.

Here it is, for the blog readers! (Click on the image below to start the player)

*Video:wedding in kashmir - scene from a wedding in kupwara

 

Final thoughts:

Kashmiri wedding doesn’t have to be complicated extravagant affair really. It can be simple and beautiful like the wedding feast I experienced in Kupwara!

 

Khandar the Kashmiri Wedding – Part 3

Kashmiri Wedding

Kashmiri Wedding - Part 3

For those of you who have visited my blog before, you might have already read a little something about the Kashmiri Wedding here.

While preparation of food (see Khandar the Kashmiri Wedding)  is a very elaborate and lavish affair, the process of finding your soul-mate, the koshur-way is a complicated and tiring process (see Khandar the Kashmiri Wedding – Part 2. )

While talking of the match-making process, I had actually talked of how the ‘thap’ or ‘catching the bride’ is done. 🙂 [It is nothing like it sounds really – don’t start visualizing the savage men running after and catching women. It is a very simple (though in cities it can get very complicated .. but that is another topic), affair. The girl meets the boy’s family and is given a gift as a proof of consent for the marriage.

Dry Fruit, Cakes, Chocolates - Kashmiri Wedding

Dry Fruit, Cakes, Chocolates - spread the word - its the thap!

Now after the ‘thap’ has been done, the marital knot has to be formally declared and this is done in so many phases. (Yes, this is also rather complicated). The boy’s family sends sweets, cakes, dry-fruits and chocolates (now-a-days) to the girl’s family. This is for the girl and for distribution to family, neighbors and friends to announce the ‘thap’ (literally catching) or ‘gandun’ (literally tying up). The girl’s family reciprocate and send their lot of sweets etc. to the boy’s family which is again distributed among their relatives, friends and neighbours.

This marks the official announcement of the marriage intention.

The next stage is the very lavish function called ‘Nishayn’ (literally would translate to symbol) or the ‘Engagement’ ceremony. This is a very formal occasion and is mostly a bride’s family function where the groom’s close family and friends are invited to a very lavish (this is one of the most extravagant feast, far superior to the regular wazwan) feast.

Trami for the groom

Will the groom eat all of this?

The groom isnt forgotten. A trami filled to the brim with delecacies made of meat is sent to the groom’s house.

The ‘Nishayn’ or the ‘Engagement’ could itself be of two types – the simple ‘Nishayn’ or the ‘Nikah-Nishayn’. The regular ‘Nishayn’ or engagement has no binding effect and is more of formalizing the marital consent (to be done in future). The Nikah-Nishayn is where the actual marriage is solemnized and the ‘nikah’ is done. It might probably a very long set of rituals – but well this is the Kashmiri Wedding – in most of the cities and towns in Kashmir.

(Sidenote: While the weddings in Srinagar and other cities and towns of Kashmir are filled with seemingly never ending functions, the weddings in the village side are rather simple. I will cover that in a different post).

Henna on bride's hand

Henna on bride's hand

Now getting back to the Engagement function. The bride is to get her henna on her hands the night before her engagement day generally. The engagement itself is a very formal occasion where protocol demands utmost care in handling the guests.  According to protocol, the guests are served:

  • Juice and a fruit of  dry fruit (Rani juice was kinda in fashion the last time I attended an engagement party 😉 )
  • fServing the guestsollowed by Kahwah, with huge peice of black forest or some other pastry and kulcha
  • followed by the wazwan itself
  • followed by either firni, or halwa, or some other sweet
  • followed by the guests getting their little basket of dryfruit (with money inside) to take back with them
Parting gifts

Parting gifts for the guests

The groom’s family usually comes with their load fulls of gifts for the bride which usually includes many gold coins – called ‘pounds’ and ‘sets’ and etc. etc.

Finally the guests leave and the bride’s family hopes that no guest has been offended.

It’s rather tragic that so much money is spent lavish functions which have no meanings. Traditionally, though Wazwan was part of Kashmiri weddings, there have been major changes which just make weddings complicated and (somewhat sad portrait of the Kashmiri society).

Well.. ofcourse the engagement is the beginning of yet another series of visits and then the final wedding etc. Will write about it again in future. Till then, don’t feel nauseated thinking of the trami full of meat (shown above.) You can still think of the good old trami with 7 traditional dishes which was good to eat and pleasing to the eye.

Khandar – The Kashmiri Wedding – part 2

One of the readers pointed out that the Kashmiri wedding is a lot more than just food, and I certainly agree. Actually the food is just a part of it – an interesting set of courses that interest the five senses in different forms.

But the fact remains that in Kashmir weddings are an elaborate affair that start with the elaborate and painstaking process of matchmaking. This involves middle-men(or sometimes women) called the ‘manzimyor‘ (or manzimyarin), who do their part to make the simple and beautiful concept of a nikah into an elaborate set of annoying rituals. But then the marraige rituals come much later – only after the kouri-mael (girl’s family) and the gobre’-mael (boy’s family) come to terms and agree that marriage should take place.

So without digging into so many things that would side-track me, I will dedicate this post to the manzimyors and their endless pursuit of finding happiness for their clients.

Anyways the process starts with the parents of the girl/guy [who they wish to get married] calling for manzimyors. Or, well, sometimes the manzimyor having sighted a potential client might just decide to walk into the house himself.

Anyhow, the manzimyor carries his ‘list’ of potential spouse-to-be for the client. The list is usually in terms of
Name
Date of Birth
Parentage
Caste
info on brothers/sisters (and if married a little on who they are married to)
Educational background
Job profile
Address

and once in a while, it comes with a photograph too.

The parents look at the list, shortlist candidates, do a background check. This checking process could mean a visit to the neighbor’s house, checking with colleagues of the prospective boy/girl, getting information about the parents from whatever sources possible.

The manzimyor arranges for the other to check if they would be interested as well. And then they too do their checkup routines.

Now that both sides are ready and satisfied with the ‘rest of the things’ comes the viewing/interviewing of the girl/boy. This can be done by the parents, cousins, or well whoever the family deems fit to take the interview (sometimes this is skipped going to next step). The boy and girl meet — meeting could range from seeing from far or talking for 2-20 mins.

And ta-da.

If they both say yes [well that’s what it is supposed to be]… then, the next step is the ‘thap’ — literally meaning “catching” — which is nothing dramatic like it sounds. Its as simple as the parent’s of the boy giving a gift to the girl (which is almost ALWAYS gold). This is to symbolize the agreement of both sides in taking further steps to getting the two married.

huh! and now i am tired.
Actually the way i put it, it sounds rather simple. But well.. it can get annoyingly difficult… however… this is the traditional way of getting married in Kashmir … and the NORM.

Anyone who defies the norm is looked at with those strange eyes that stare without understanding.. but then…. that is a different issue…. will talk about it some other day..

In the meanwhile, you can stay fascinated with the way marriages are arranged in Kashmir!

Khandar – The Kashmiri Wedding

Kashmiri weddings are elaborate affairs… from the match making process to the actual ‘function’ which lasts for many days. There are rituals lasting for days… there is singing and the tumbakhnaer….And of course there is food food and food.

I see these pics and I can actually smell the wazwan.. ummm…

the ‘masala’ – the good things that make the nose twitch and the tongue drip… (he he )

no wazwaan without MEAT!!!

Zaamdod! (Curd to eat your food with)

Red hot chillies being softened…

THE COOKING PROCESS

and while you wait for food to get ready why not nibble at these:

[Its been raining, and the weather is just perfect for wazwaan.. yum yum yum]

You might be interested in the followup of this blog post – which goes on explaining about the Kashmiri Wedding rituals. Check Part 2 which talks of the matchmaking process and Part 3 which talks of the post matchmaking to the actual wedding (not including the wedding) discussion. InshaAllah there is more to come!