People in subcontinent earn for two things: Home and Wedding. People want a big house and a bigger wedding. Kashmir being the part of the subcontinent is no different. Here, let’s skip the Housing part and concentrate on Wazwaan! Any typical Kashmiri wedding ceremony consists of 3 days of function at groom’s and 2 days at bride’s.
- Mall’e Maenz
This is prelude to the Maenz raat (mehndiraat) and is celebrated by both the bride’s and the groom’s family. Waaze arrives on this day but before him Hatakh arrives. This is just a test drive for the days to come and is mostly used to differentiate Panin (your own) from Vopar (everyone else). Invitation to this day is seen as the attestation to the proximity of the relationship you have with the invitees, hence leading to numerous hatakh (sulkiness) which is the most important and the most vibrant part of any Saal!
Normally, Waaz’e (traditional Kashmiri cook) arrives on this day to start preparing the dishes and be a pain in the back for the Vodn’i vael (Most underrated guys who are the organisation and the backbone of any wedding). This day doesn’t find any mention on the invitation cards, so all the Saal’ar (guests) were invited through an intricate procedure called Dapn’i gasun– Let’s discuss that some other day.
The most important and the most exhausting happening on this day is the Waaz’e waan initiation. Waaza after building and starting the Vaerr (fireplace on which dishes are cooked) starts asking for ingredients, which he has already made the Yaezmann (The owner) note down months ago to keep them available on this day. Still, some exigencies may take place and you might have to fetch the items which Woste waaze (Head Cook) demands from the market, this literally means that Waaza can demand for anything from Shonth (fennel seeds) to nuclear launch codes. The worst part of this is that NEVER EVER EVER, in anyone’s lifetime, has any Waaz’e asked for ingredients in a single-go. It’s always that they demand things slowly and intermittently, it is as if the Verri Josh makes them have a deep philosophical contemplation on the combustion of Verr, hustle bustle around them, nature, and cosmos. The Batte (food) served on this day is usually Tzarvan Batte (bare minimum dishes)
Also called mehndiraat, this day used to be reserved for the application of Hinna on the hands of the bride and little finger of the groom. This ceremony used to take place at night after guests were served dinner. In groom’s case, the Panun Toall’e (close relatives) used to wind currency notes around the little finger of the groom but nowadays that custom is replaced by a new ceremony that consists of cutting a cake with Mehndi Mubarak written over it, application of Hinna in the case of the Groom is skipped nowadays. The dinner that is served from this day is ferried by the Vodni vael who always have the feast after the general guests have finished eating.
At the bride’s home, Maenz-koeri arrive. These are the young females of the groom’s family, comprising of very close relatives- mostly first cousins; their selection displays the proximity of the rishta, leading to Hatakh and Malaal. They take a Hinna bowl from the groom’s home to the bride’s. Ironically, this is the most recent malady and it came into existence about the same time when Maenzi-waajyen did. Maenzi-waajyen is the professional Hinna applying artist, he/she is fetched from some beauty parlor again by some Vodni voal and then needs to be dropped there by the same because they don’t accept auto kiraye now! So, technically, the Hinna from the groom’s arrive when the bride has already spent few thousands on the services of a professional!
3. Yann’i woal
Also known as Masnandnashini, this day comprises of some of the major happenings both on the bride’s and the groom’s side. The bride’s side has this day earmarked for the reception of the baraat along with the feast that has to be served in three different sittings to three different groups. First group comprising of the gents whom you can trust with the punctuality of the time with just +1 or 2 hour delay. Normally, the timing for the feast on the invitation cards is put at 2 pm sharp but we all know the desolation of the tent at that time.
I once remember arriving at a function at 2 pm sharp, while they had asked to arrive at 1 pm, I saw the Tent’i wael with tenting rods and furnishing in their carriage so I assumed that these guys have been punctual with their timing and the feast has ended and that Tent’i wael chu kaarkhaan wataan. The Yaezman saw me and asked me to wait upstairs, at this point of the time, I thought that latecomers will be served in the Hall of shame. When I entered the hall, I was the only person there who was born after 1960s! So, I sat among them listening to the siyasat (which again is the part and the parcel of any Kashmiri wedding) I barely knew about. They were talking of such an old past that every second person they mentioned had the jannatgaar suffix, so either they were discussing the ancient Kashmiri history or their childhood. When it was 4 pm, I thought now they’ll serve us as they must have been serving ladies for the 2 hours I have been here. At 4:30 pm, Yaezman again came to the Hall asking us to come downstairs. We were served the lunch at 5 pm, to my surprise, Tent’i woal was fixing the tent when I arrived instead of uprooting the same. To this day, I blame the Yaezman for making me listen to the Paatcha daleel because he, being my neighbor, could have said that lunch will be served late and I would have spent that time at home!
The morning of this day witnesses an important event at the groom’s which is his shaving and hair cutting. Unlike earlier times, this too has been reduced to the norm rather than necessity; as in the earlier days, the groom actually used to undergo shaving and hair dressing but nowadays nothing of that sort happens as just like the case of the mendiraat of the bride, the groom too has had an expensive salon treatment few days ago.
The gents sabb is followed by the ladies sabb which is deemed to be the most crucial sabb because they can and certainly will talk! “Tyem chye katthe karaan”. They will talk about everything from the Rass traavnik skills of the Waaze to Waaze vardi to how many Kokar each tream contained to kem kotah wartaav kor to malaal kemis kemis chu gomut to daisy laal’eni hash’i oas huth khaandar’as pyeth te yei logmut. In short, this sabb has more critics under one roof than all the critics of both bollywood, hollywood, tollywood, and Bhojpuri film industry combined! Hence, this sabb is considered to be the most delicate in terms of quality of service needed. The indicator of which is quite apparent on the face of Daspaak woal. By the end of the Sabb, Daspaak woal has developed few ailments in his back.
Nowadays, caterers are hired for the same purpose but some are averse to it for various reasons ranging from Vopar kot tzanokh zanaan’an manz to Temav seat chune mazze lagaan kenh (latter mostly said by the Chaache who spends all the 2/3 days enjoying Verr’i josh sitting on Kursi.)
After the zannan’e sabb has ended, preparations begin for the Mahraaz Sabb at bride’s and Mahraaz saal at groom’s.
Mahraaz Saal ranges from Kahwas pyeth to Battas pyeth and depends on the preferences of the groom and his family; from Sunnat’i hisaab’i chu pakun to Ase chuna lukan hyund khyomut. Baraat usually leaves around 10 pm and returns around 1 am. In case, the baraat is on Kahwas pyeth and haven’t had dinner before leaving then it’s literally a nightmare for the Vodni vael (BTDT) who are resurrected from their sleep and asked to serve the Laezimdaar patxh (mostly Zaamtir) who were accompanying the groom in the baraat.
The bride is received by the Groom’s close female relatives, rarely his mother; like all the happenings at a Kashmiri wedding, the selection of the receivers also displays the proximity of the Rishte– one more thing that needs to be kept in consideration for the Malaal free wedding, which never happens. After taking her full time (a subtle way to show the bride who is the boss) the Hashh (Mother-in-law of the bride) arrives to lift her veil hoping to send her relatives into Gashh (state of unconsciousness from the sight of bride’s beauty) the event is called Mohar Tulin. This is generally performed by the Hashh or the Badde Hashh (Mother-in-law of the Mother-in-law) if the latter is alive. This marks the end of this day.
This is the final day of the Kashmiri wedding and is celebrated by the groom’s family alone. On this day, the groom’s family has a feast for the ladies among whom the bride has her lunch. Again, the three other people sitting around the bride on the Tream defines the proximity of the relation hence you know what…. malaal obviously. The Wartaav (small monetary/gold gift given to the couple) takes place here. It is important to note here that the Wartaav process also takes place in the Gents sabb but most of the gents who give their gifts there are the ones who don’t have a Wathijj saal for the female members of their family. There is a female/male in zanaan’e sabb and Mard’e sabb respectively, who keeps the record of all the Wartaav that has been received on the Naev JK Bank diary or some other diary. This sabb at the groom’s is at par with the zanaan’e sabb at the bride’s yesterday in terms of Katthe, Hatakh, and quality of service. With this comes the end of the Wedding in general. There are other customs as well that follow that are Satim Doh and Phirr saal on which the close relatives of the Groom’s and Bride’s visit each other respectively actually for the purpose of general introduction but now to make mends to Hatakh and Malaal dealt out during the wedding.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Weddings in Kashmir, being the only social gathering, are a funfair except if you are a Vodni voal.