SRINAGAR, JULY 15: In the first ever mass marriage in Kashmir, as many as 105 couples tied the knot in a simple function in Amar Singh Club here. The couples belonged to various parts of north Kashmir, including Srinagar.
“It is being done by the Jaffri Council of Jammu and Kashmir and this is the first such mass marriage,” Ghulam Rasool Chakan, the general secretary of the party said. “This, however, is the biggest such exercise understaffed by the Council.”
Chakan said it was for the first time in 2015 when the Council undertook marrying 38 couples from deserving categories of the society. “In 2016, we helped 70 couples marry in a joint function and in 2017, the number rose to 75,” he said. “So far, the 2018 function is the biggest such exercise.”
“In this mass marriage, we have couples from Uri, Sumbal, Pattan, Beerwa, Budgam, Khan Sahab, Baramulla and even from Srinagar,” Chakan said. He said Haji Manhas is presiding over the Council.
The Council has its office in Khomanie Chowk in Bemina. “Couples come and register with us and for a proof we seek their details and verify to check if they deserve the help,” Chakan said. “We visit their homes and recheck the details they submit.”
Chakan said they have a number of donors who do not wish to be identified and they function this annual exercise. “We give some items to the marking couples after the ceremony is over,” Chakan said. “This year, we are giving as many as 41 items to these new families as the basic support from the Council which the donors are funding.”
Offering details of the Council activities, the Council president said that after taking over the group, they had a modest start. “Though it existed earlier, the real work started after the September 2014 devastating floods when we launched modest relief operations in Sonawari belt,” Haji said. “Gradually we got help from people and we felt encouraged take up the mass marriages.”
The group has taken roots from Bhatindi in Jammu and is a registered NGO that operates in Kashmir as well.
“We have a selfless team of 125 people including religious scholars, youth and clerics who are working round the clock for the noble cause,” Haji said. “We want to tell the people that Muslims are supposed to make marriages simple and less expensive.” Most of the marriages that were solemnized on Sunday did not cost the council beyond Rs 50,000 each.
Council, Haji said, has plans to go for these marriages at district levels so that the section of the people that can not afford the fat weddings will avail it.
In Sunday’s mass marriages, there were 38 couples from Budgam, 34 from Bandipore, two each from Srinagar and Ganderbal and 29 from Baramulla district. “We covered 11 assembly constituencies,” Haji emphasized.
As the word about the mass marriage spread, there were hundreds of people who came to be part of the major event. Media, donors and the families of the 105 families along with the organisers converted the Amar Singh Club into a major activity space on Sunday.
“We had asked every single groom and the bride that they can invite 20 families members to the event and they did it,” Haji said. “We had the Wazwan feast for all of them.” It was a 7-course meal, those who had lunch said.
For most of the day, it was a festival in the Club. There were non-stop speeches by the organizers and the Ulema. They were poets singing praise for the great leaders of the Umah and the event. Speakers insisted that Islam was laid lot of emphasis on making the marriages simple and less expensive. The organizers took their time in distributing the household items among the newly wed couples which included various basic household items.
Some of the brides ad the grooms who talked to the media said they are very happy to be part of the new trend . “It should have been started earlier and it must continue,” they said. Some of them said that the families were finding it very difficult to manage the huge costs for the marriages because of the overall economic downturn.
Brides in selfie mode: After the mass marriage event was over at Amar Singh Club on July 15, 2018, the brides took their times in recording their most important event in their lives: KL Image Mehraj Bhat
Third party help at societal level in Kashmir’s marriage sector has always been there. Though the Sunday event was organised by a Jafria group, there are various other groups working on ground. Humsafar Marriage Counselling Cell has been working on this front for many years now. However, what made Sunday interestingly different was the mass marriage which was public, simple and happens within a few hours. It is expected to take the initiative to the next levels across all the sections of the society in Kashmir.