Summer is wedding season in Kashmir, that time of the year when people laze in the sun, drum fingers on tables as the tumbaknaer plays in the background while a feast is laid out. But this year, there’s an air of urgency as families, witness to the turmoil on the streets and anxious about what may happen in the days before and after July 8 that will mark one year of the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, are rushing to wrap up weddings, family functions.
Faisal Raheem, a government official who is 29-years-old, told The Indian Express that he plans to get married on July 1. And at least eight in his extended family are getting married between June 28 and July 7. “First, there is the consideration of Ramzan — between May 28 and June 28 — and then there is July 8, one year of the death of Wani. So technically, we have about ten days to hold all wedding functions,” he said. Although he has decided on July 1 as the date for his wedding, Raheem is not so sure. Because all wedding bookings come with a rider, one that says “the waaza (the traditional Kashmiri cook), the tent house, the photographers, all will be available subject to conditions in the city at that time”.
Amina, a researcher at the University of Kashmir, got married in the second week of May. She said the protests that escalated during the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypolls had begun to subside and that’s when she got married. But the killing of militant Sabzar Ahmad on May 27 and the protests that followed have added to the anxiety in homes.
Azhaan Ahmad, a 30-year-old who teaches in a government school, postponed his wedding last year after the violence on the streets following the killing of Wani. He plans to get married later this month but he too is not sure whether he will be able to go ahead. “There are no guarantees now. If you go to someone’s house, you may get stuck there and not be able to return home. You cannot plan well in advance because you don’t know where a protest may erupt next,” he said.
Ahmad said the last time the family was preparing for the wedding function, people died on the streets or sustained pellet injuries. He said the wedding was deferred because “I felt how could I celebrate an important day in my life when people my age were dying”. The current turmoil has led to uncertainty that is not limited to just weddings and family. Amina said it has impacted daily routine and decisions. “I try and finish as much work as possible in a day. There is no way of knowing when I will get a full working day next,” she said.
For now, as the summer advances and July 8 approaches, diaries with wedding songs are being passed around and the goblet drum, tumbaknaer, quickly dusted.