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! ๐Ÿ™‚ Travelling from Srinagar to Kupwara wasnt exactly very easy especially due to the traffic on the highway.ย  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)ย  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. ๐Ÿ™‚ [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.ย  According to protocol, the guests are served:

  • Juice and a fruit ofย  dry fruit (Rani juice was kinda in fashion the last time I attended an engagement party ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
  • 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

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!