Kashmir has come alive once again as mirth and music return to local marriage functions thanks to the fast returning peace in the Valley.
For many years after 1989, when armed violence started here, marriage functions had lost their lustre.
Grooms accompanied by a few close relations and friends would go to fetch their brides during daytime as dusk marked the end of all outdoor activities in Kashmir.
Families would harriedly go through religious and social requirements needed to sanctify a marriage as if performing some surreptitious act, eat the marriage feast and quickly depart with the bride to ensure that everybody was home before dark.
The rattle of automatic gunfire coming out of places where the militants and the security forces engaged in an encounter was enough to send chills down anyone’s spine who heard those terrifying sounds.
Most of the time, families had to approach the authorities for permission because large gatherings were not allowed in the Valley.
It sometimes so happened that in times of curfew restrictions just one or two guests accompanied the groom to the bride’s house holding curfew passes.
Mirth and music were missing from such functions of joy and happiness. Bursting of firecrackers, illumination of homes and singing, etc., had been relegated to the past.
Thanks to the fast normalising situation, Kashmir has once again come alive as mirth and music are returning to marriage functions with a bang.
Music and dance is becoming an essential part of many marriage functions especially in Srinagar city where young boys, girls and elders of the family take to the floor with smiling faces and swinging legs.
Such joyous functions are quickly becoming the rule rather than an exception at marriage parties.
Traditional Kashmiri music to the accompaniment of the Rabab, Sarangi, harmonium, tumbaqnari (earthen vessel with goat skin bottom) and ‘Nouth’ (earthen vessel used to generate sound) are seen during marriage parties in the city.
Western and Bollywood music and songs are becoming the heartthrob of the youth at such parties.
A video that went viral recently showed the former chief minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah singing and dancing at a marriage party.
During another such function, Dr. Farooq’s son, Omar Abdullah was pushed to join his father in dance and singing though Omar did so reluctantly.
Marriage parties are no longer restrained by daylight, these run into late evenings and often into the early hours of the next morning depending upon the enthusiasm of families and their guests.
Grooms and brides had been maintaining a discreet aloofness from the guests during marriage functions in the past, but one is not surprised to see the couple joining the guests during singing and dancing now.
“This used to be the social aspect of our marriage functions in the past where local music was an essential part of the marriage parties.
“The addition of dance, Bollywood and western music are recent additions to these joyous occasions,” said a local sociologist who asserted that there is nothing wrong if Kashmiris display their joy and entertain themselves with music and dance.
Serving alcohol to guests during marriage parties is not a part of Kashmir’s exhibition of joy and happiness during marriage parties.
“As long as people sing, dance and make merry while remaining in control of their senses, there is nothing that should be objected to by the peers of our society,” said a senior citizen who attended one such marriage party recently.