The tautly worded advertisement announcing the postponement of Zubair Hassan Guroo’s wedding, headlined ‘Invitation Cancelled’ and with black lines framing it, was one of many that have been filling the classified pages of local newspapers in Srinagar ever since the Valley came under an unprecedented lockdown on the night of August 4, hours before the Centre announced in Parliament that Article 370, granting special status to Jammu & Kashmir, had been abrogated.
Sitting at his home in Jawahar Nagar, a neighbourhood in Srinagar, Ghulam Hassan Guroo says he doesn’t know if his relatives living outside Srinagar have seen the advertisement, announcing the cancellation of his son Zubair’s wedding. “Anyway, I don’t think any of our relatives will be able to reach here, and even if someone does, we will tell them the marriage had to be cancelled,” says Guroo.
On the night of August 4, Guroo and his wife were in South Kashmir to distribute invitation cards for the wedding when the clampdown happened. Internet and phone lines — landline and mobiles — were snapped and unprecedented security was put in place across the Valley. Around midnight, mainstream political leaders were detained or put under house arrest, and Section 144 was imposed. As the night wore on ominously, for the Guroos, the biggest concern was the wedding that was less than a fortnight away. “We were stuck in South Kashmir, at the home of one of our relatives, for four days after that. When we finally returned home, we had to take a call on whether it was possible for the two families to go ahead with the ceremony. And we finally decided there was no way we could go ahead with the wedding in these circumstances,” says Guroo.
The Guroos considered all options — even looking at whether they could go ahead with a scaled-down version with a few, select guests.
“But there was a communication blockade and there was nothing we could do, nobody we could get in touch with. We couldn’t even reach the bride’s family. And even for a small-scale wedding, there are things that would be needed to be bought last minute. How could we have done that with every shop in the city shut? Also, our relatives were to come from different villages to be part of the baraat, but how could they have come and how could we have taken the wedding procession to South Kashmir,” says Guroo, adding that they had fixed the wedding date in January and soon after, booked a hall for the ceremony.
“Everything was ready from our side. We had even distributed most of the invitation cards; only our immediate neighbours were left. We were expecting around a thousand guests,” says Guroo, adding that they had spent around Rs 3 lakh on the wedding, including on advance payments.
Once the Guroos decided they had no option but to cancel the wedding, they had to consult the bride’s family in Awantipora, in Pulwama district of South Kashmir. But with no means to communicate, the Guroos again had to send word through someone. “Both families have for now decided that we can take a call in a month or two, depending on the situation,” says Guroo.
The family next went to a local newspaper office and put out the advertisement on the cancellation. The family also sent a person to inform the waza (who cooks the wedding wazwan and whose availability often determines the date of the ceremony) and the marriage hall management about the cancellation.
The man at the centre of it all, groom Zubair, 31, is disappointed, but more so that he can’t talk to his fiancee.
Zubair, who works at a bank in Srinagar, says, “I haven’t spoken to her since August 4. I was looking forward to the day… But who can change the situation?”