mass wedding
Brides attending the biggest Kashmiri mass weddings where 105 couples tied the knot in SrinagarFacebook

As 105 couples from various districts of Jammu and Kashmir including Uri, Baramulla, Sopore, Srinagar and Budgam tied the knot at Amar Singh Club in Srinagar in a historic mass wedding of the valley, it also created a paradigm shift from traditional extravagant Kashmiri marriages to simple affairs.

The event organisers, Jaffri Council of Jammu and Kashmir, have arranged for such functions at a small scale primarily with a focus to get the people belonging to the lower income groups of the society get married.

The council is believed to be receiving hundreds of applications from young men and women of the valley and it is only after rigorous scrutinisation that the support for arranging their marriages is offered.

In addition, the group also arranges for providing various utilities to the new families.

This is comparatively a new practice in Kashmiri society which has a tradition of organising larger than life weddings involving huge expenditures on numerous rituals, serving extravagant non-vegetarian food over days and even giving dowry.

Consequently, an increasing number of men and women are finding it more difficult to get married at an appropriate age, especially those belonging to the lower strata of the society.

The ongoing turmoil in the state has only compounded the woes of the young generation with economy suffering and fewer job opportunities.

"Before even thinking of marriage, one has to become financially independent to support the family. But over the past two decades the way our economy and education has suffered, it has in turn taken a toll on the choice of people getting married. The problems of unemployment and meagre salaries are on a rise and hence people are either preferring to remain single or marry late," said Shahbaz Ahmad, a Srinagar-based political science research scholar. 

A study conducted by the Sociology department at Kashmir University a few years ago noticed that the percentage of the never-married population in Kashmir is actually higher than the national average.

"The perpetual armed conflict situation plays a negative role vis-à-vis marriages, i.e. it generally lowers the marriage–rate and consequently increases the number of never-married persons," the study said.

Besides militancy, the other secondary factors contributing to this disturbing trend are poverty, societal evils such as dowry and illiteracy.

"It is imperative upon each one of us to break this stereotype of our young generation not / late marrying by making our weddings as much simple as possible. This could also be one of the ways we can at least help our future generations overcome the psychological and other problems they are facing today," Ghulam Hassan, a social worker said.