On 5th April 2003 was my first visit to the beautiful city of Pune. I got stuck at the airport, as it was raining incessantly. My friend couldn't manage to reach there in time. I stayed back and saw few gentlemen wearing somewhat same kind of golden embroidered head caps. I was surprised to find that they are known as 'Bohri's, which is one of the sects of Islam. For the next three years I was blessed to have few friends from this community and got a chance to know more about them, which are truly things of admiration and respect. I am not here to discuss their faith but there are certain practices that they follow in letter and a spirit, which are praiseworthy and paramount need of the hour to know and if possible, should be put into practice by us as well.
They are well known businessmen of India and have earned laurels in hardware and construction industries. They have strong presence in Bombay, Pune, Gujarat, Kuwait, Dubai and other GCC countries. More than their business acumen, I was pleased to know that except "Walas" with their surnames like Gorakhpurwala, Ginawala, Burhanpore wala, etc, as such no casteism, no superior, inferior classes exist among them.
You will hardly find them working in a government sector as most of them prefer to set up their own enterprises. They provide interest-free loans to the downtrodden people of their community to ensure they don't remain unemployed and deprived of livelihood. They always stay united for the community's upliftment and keep their affairs very simple but aim at an abounding prosperity for everyone.
Mostly when their girls are studying in 8th or 9th standard, they prefer to engage them at the young age, without any desire and demand for the high caste and not giving much heed to the fact whether the groom is earning or not. They trust their affairs to the Allah who is the best sustainer and will provide them the amenities of life at the right time. By this early engagement concept, no room is left for the temptations and indecencies. They don't resort to anything which is prohibited by Islam. The couple work for their common goals of prosperity. On the day of marriage, a delicious feast is arranged for the guests in community halls. The cost of the arrangements is very affordable. They don't fake to prove otherwise. Everything is done then and there with simplicity and under set norms only.
Now look at our marriages, it has evolved into a web of social evils and stigmas. It is much more than the menu of limitless dishes, guests and the wastages. It is taking a heavy toll on our faith and we are falling into the trap of our own ignorance and arrogance.
There is a popular saw that Kashmiris only strive for two things in life, building house (Makan) and soliciting the Marriage ceremonies (Wazwan). The earnings are spent ostentatiously on the above priorities, leaving Haj obligations aside which will be only performed when they are fully satisfied that they have met them to the best of their social status otherwise compulsory religious obligations take a back seat.
Right from the day one when a girl child is born, the serious cause of concern starts growing for making the arrangements for her copper collections (Trama Sundok) Fridge, Led TV, washing machine, jewelry etc. Marriage becomes the top priority. For years they work hard for this day and desire to make it more lavish even if it's beyond their financial limits.
Our criteria are very rigid. We cannot accept things which are below our status and look little lesser than actually what we pretend to be. What we preach, we contradict by our actions. Without fear and accountability, do what's not commanded by our holy book. No where the caste privileges are mentioned in Quran. One cannot think of marrying a girl or a boy whose families consider themselves superior and blessed. It is utmost important that the caste and wealth should match otherwise you will not be clueless about the rejections.
Nowadays, we rarely see the families who don't have any demands. Among middle class, it is mandatory, If a boy is government employee, he will be hitched to the girl who is also working in the government sector otherwise he is not ready to compromise. This tops the wish list. Highly qualified girls are ignored despite having many merits. Here we don't have many job avenues, for how long should they wait? And with the result, each passing day, they are ageing to lament over the disappointments.
Forget about the expensive wazwan platters, Kashmiri weddings have become trendier as there should be certified makeup artists, mehendi designers, decorators, cinematographers. Rich take pride in such extravagance but how can people with limited income afford such luxuries.
As per reports more than 10000 girls have crossed the right marriage age, reason being the extravagance trend set by the rich. There is this Surat-based businessman who has married off more than 1800 girls since 2012. Can’t our Kashmiri businessmen pledge to arrange at least marriage of 10 girls every year?
But poverty is not the only root cause, there are other related factors which I have discussed above and need immediate attention like parents prefer government employees, their castes should match, nuclear families are preferred ones, only doctors and engineers get the edge, girls cannot compromise on their prince charming, he should be nothing less than that, some infamous character in the family spoils the whole show, it depends on the neighborhood feedback as well but unfortunately Kashmiris are the best at bad mouthing, most Kashmiri boys start earning only after the age of 25 years and take a lot of time to settle down…. Lastly our religious leaders are not taking pains to create the awareness as per the guidelines and teachings of Holy Quran and least bother to talk about this growing menace. All these, are affecting the sanctity of marriages, in one way or other.
Allah (SWT) hates extravagance and unnecessary show offs. Always, remember, simplicity is sacred and peaceful.
Let's introspect, address our shortcomings first and play Individual roles sincerely to make the difference and create a breathable space for everyone!