Dr. Ramesh Tamiri 

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Wedding Customs among Old Kashmiri Pandits

By Dr. R.K. Tamiri

Exile and its impact on culture of the community living in exile has remained a favourite theme for scholars. Folklore, Ritual, Myth, Legend etc. evolve out of experience of the people over millenia. Culture thus flowers best in its native soil. Detachment from the original habitat endangers the culture of the exiled group. In cases where the population mass of the exiled group is small, widely dispersed and quite far away from the original homeland, preservation of historically evolved culture comes under serious strain.

Between 17-19th centuries nearly 500 Kashmiri Pandit families left Kashmir and settled in plains of Northern India. Lahore and Lucknow, with 200 and 150 families respectively, formed their major diasporas. These Pandits were very proud of their history and intensely conscious of their Kashmiri Pandit identity. They tried to preserve what they could in those times when communication links between their new place and Kashmir were not easy. These Pandits lost their language. Due to their intense desire to preserve Kashmiri Pandit identity, their living together in community mohallas besides the availability of Kashmiri purohits, many of the rituals and customs have survived. Sender observes, "They gradually forgot their Kashmiri language but clung to customs which they had brought from Kashmir. They lost there sense of identification or unity with those who had remained behind in Kashmir. They did this without substituting old for new bonds with local residents of their new domicile." Improved links between them and Kashmir helped further reinforce the extant customs.

The present essay focusses on the wedding customs prevalent among these old Kashmiris, who left their homeland two or three centuries ago.

Purohits:

Many of the Purohit families too left Kashmir alongwith their Jajmans. Some of the Purohit families used to go during winter months or as the occasion demanded to the plains. These purohit families looked after the ritual needs of Kashmiri Pandits who lived as far apart as Lahore and Allahabad. No precise details are available about the identity and the number of these families. The claim that the number of these families was 100 looks untenable. The debate in community journals in 1870s showed concern on the dwindling number of these purohits. Community members were warned not to alienate the gurus and while initiating the reform against increase in ritual expenses care was taken not to undermine their livelihood from the proceeds of various rituals.

This period had witnessed some tensions between purohits and their jajmans. Due to the individual aberrations of the purohits, many jajmans went for change of gurus. In Lahore a son confiscated the property his father had bestowed on the original guru and switched on to a new guru. In Multan a local guru was arrested for murdering the son of a widow in revenge for changing gurus. In Lucknow a guru refused to attend his client's funeral in the mufusssil because of the inconvenient journey, and sent an 'incompetent novice'  newly arrived guru from Kashmir. This built up further pressure for changing the guru. Many of these Pandits felt that the gurus were not really learned. Gurus too were exploring new opportunities - either because of better opportunities than their hereditary livelihood or because of less favourable terms in his traditional calling. Though at the individual level the gurus remained dispensable, yet at the group level they could not be ignored. They, however, did not attempt to capitalise on their potential and ’remained vulnerable to the will of their patron Karkuns. Their fragmentation and lack of cohesion failed them in integrating with the larger Pandit biradari in Diaspora.

Despite tensions between Karkuns and their Purohits, serious atempts were made to promote matrimonial alliances between two social divisions of Kashmiri Hindus. Former Governor J&K Late BK Nehru's maternal grandafther, hailed from guru group.

Kishen Narain Shivpuri, one of those who objected to the forging of matrimonial alliances, argued 'whether the Karkuns will marry with them (gurus) depends upon whether the gurus continue to take charity'.

Besides conducting rituals purohit played important role in wedding ceremonies. They helped in arranging marriages - bringing Teknis (Janam Kundlis) of prospective bridegrooms to the family of the bride and matching these teknis. In cases where marriage alliance was not settled through guru, the latter still received his share what he was entitled to otherwise. Again, it was the guru who would go round to personally issue invitations to weddings of his jajmans. In 1892 Lahore Kashmiri Pandits dispensed with this practice and decided to send formal invitation cards. This invited some criticism. The editor Safir-i-Kashmir claimed that it would diminish the sense of community identity.

Marriage Choices:

The old Kashmiri Pandits reinforced their racial and social identity by refusing to marry outside their community. Even during family lunch or dinner, if a person from outside their caste/biradri would join they would leave their food. There were 25-30 Kashmiri cooks who looked after the culinary needs of their patrons. There was strong resistance to eat food from non-Kashmiri cooks when many of these Kashmiri Pandit students went for higher studies to colleges in different cities of India. How could this mindset accept marriage outside the community. Even such a westernised family like that of Nehrus opted for matrimonial alliances within their own biradari, at least upto Pt. JL Nehru's time.

There was reluctance on the part of both old Kashmiris as well Kashmiri Pandits living in Kashmir to accept alliances from each other. About this scholar Sender comments, "The boundaries of their community as an effective social group had shades, not clear lines of demarcation. Their disinclination to bring wives from Kashmir itself was not absolute. Practices of adoption served to dilute boundaries further. Likewise, the lack of marriage ties between the Karkun and guru sections of the Pandits was not total".

There were strong arguments both in favour of and against forging matrimonial alliances between old Kashmiris and Pandits in Kashmir. Old Kashmiris regarded the Kashmiris of Kashmir as inferior. Those in the Valley regarded the old Kashmiris as different. They debunked them as the people who had forgotten their customs and grown darker under the cruel north Indian sun. Lack of trust also inhibited the marital status. One of Justice SN Katju's ancestors had, a century ago, gone to Kashmir and taken, a second wife, while his first one was still alive. He had not told the girl's side about his first marriage. This sort of incident created a legacy of mistrust between old Kashmiris and Pandits of Kashmir.

Despite this mistrust, many old Kashmiris continued to advocate closer ties with their community brethern in Kashmir. One MN Sapru, in May 1891 issue of Safir-i-Kashmir called upon his biradari members to demonstrate their obligations to members of the community in Kashmir. In a tone of sarcasm he snubbed his biradari of old Kashmiris, "only Kashmiris are ashamed to speak their mother tongue and look down on the tazi vilayat, the newly arrived, as if their own forefathers had not been born in Kashmir" and strongly recommended issueless parents to frequently adopt babies from Kashmir. Many of old Kashmiris did bring babies from poor Kashmiris. Similarly, of and on marriage alliances were also forged. Pt. Devinder Nath Koul, an advocate of Rawalpindi, who owned a house there, married his sister to Pt. Janki Nath Dhar of Srinagar. So strong was the urge for old Kashmiri Pandits to seek allances within their own biradari that even in 1940s brides who were graduates opted for matriculate grooms. Extensive inbreeding among these old Kashmiris has led to abnormally high rates of leukemia, psychiatric disorders, and other genetically transmitted diseases. Sender's comments are worth quoting here: "Most Pandits agree that they are too inbred; but no consensus emerges on how to define the eligible marriage pool. The desire to retain identity as a Kashmiri Pandit, to preserve the biological links with past generations, is strong; but so is the realisation that perhaps new blood would strengthen the community. The debate about marriage is essentially a debate about the future of the communiy and how best to preserve its existence. Can one remain a Pandit if a spouse or parent is not a Pandit?"

Institution of child marriage was common a century ago among these Kashmiris. End of child marriage was an important agenda before the reformers of Kashmiri Pandits of northern India in 1870-1890s. Divorce/separation was virtually non-existent. In cases where in-laws maltreated the daughter-in-law, the latter would prefer to bear with the indignities rather than walk out of marriage and face social censure.

So too was widow re-marriage unacceptable. Though there was no concern on the issue of taking more than one wife, widow re-marriage was a taboo. Prof. Lakshmi Dhar Kalla, renowned Sanskrit scholar of Delhi and an old Kashmiri Pandit undertook campaign in 1920 favouring widow re-marriage. However, till 1940 not a single widow had been re-married. Their plight was worse. At times concern was shown for improving their economic condition. In 1895, Pt. Shamboo Nath Goghai, first Indian to be named as a judge wanted to remarry his widowed daughter in Calcutta. Even after he obtained religious approval based on the shastras, he failed to remarry her.

Wedding Ceremonies:

Tika and Takh: After the matching of Teknis, in which the stars and their configuration are assessed for the success of married life and longevity of the boy and the girl, the two parties go Tika and Takh ceremony. This nomenclature is not used by Kashmiri Pandits of Kashmir nowadays. It is the first ceremony in wedding of old Kashmiri Pandits. This ceremony is akin to gandun (engagement) and and Kasamdry of Kashmiri Pandits of Kashmir.

'Takh' term was used by Kashmiri Pandits of Kashmir till Ist and IInd decades of 20th century. According to Shri Arjun Dev Majboor, a noted scholar, word 'Takh' may have its origin from 'Vakh'. 'Vakh Diyun' in Kashmiri means to agree in principle. He also surmises may be this part of the ceremony was conducted on a portion of the house called 'Takh' (Floor of a window).

On this day relations were called. From boy's side young ladies would come with bridal dress, jewellery and 'Tika' and decorate the bride. A small party of young ladies from bride's side would pay a return visit and offer 'Tika' and jewellery to the boy. This function could take place even a year before marriage. Girl's side would ask for horoscope of the boy. Normally, boy and girl would see each other first time only during Lagan and exchange glances through mirror. More liberal families asked for photographs before marriage.

In 'Takh' part of the ceremony parents of the boy and the girl would set the terms for marriage, particularly about the Taan (jewellery) i.e. 5 Taan : 3 Taan :2 Taan and 1 Taan. 5 Taan would mean 'Pucca Panch Taan' - 5 of every item of jewellery-5 bangles, 5 sets of ear rings, 5 necklace sets and a tagadi (waistband). Affluent families offered tagadies, weighing as much as 100 tolas of gold. In 5 Taan Taakh girl's side had to offer huge cash to boy's side during 'Garasun' ceremony. This could  be any amount ranging from Rs 10 thousand to Rs 50 thousand. In 1900-1920 by any standards this was an astronomical sum. Everything regarding marriage and particular demands of the boy's side are settled during Takh in advance.

Dapan bata i.e. invitation to bride and bridegroom before marriage by their respective relations, followed the same pattern as in case of Kashmiri Pandits resident in Kashmir. In places which housed sizeable number of Kashmiri families marriages were conducted in community Shadikhanas. A week before the wedding the family would shift to shadikhana. Relaying of Shehnai music would start from the day of shifting. A ceremony, which betrays local influence, 'Bhandawar' (Announcement of Wedding) was observed in Shadikhana. Mango leaves are strung on a strong cotton ring and hung at the entrance of Shadikhana or home where the wedding is to take place. This string of mango leaves is known as the 'bhanda war'. Mango leaves are considered sacred, first Puja starts with this. Multani Mitti or white clay soaked in water and mixed with varied colours is used to paint floral designs, again called, 'Krool' on the entrance wall to mark the auspicious occasion. Swastik sign is also put. It would be followed by Ganesh Puja.

Gota, Badia, Shagun :

These three ceremonies take place before marriage. Gota (masala used in filling betel leaves) is prepared as thin flakes from pistachios, almonds, betel nuts and coconuts. Dried vegetables are kept ready well in advance.

In Badia (Masale Wali Wari) ceremony black mash (urad dal) lentil is grounded in a chaki (hand driven grinding machine) and then mustard seed oil, flour, spices (coriander, jaivitri, saunf (aniseed), nutmeg etc.), salt, zeera are added to it. With 'lohng' (clove) sada suhagan (Happy Married Life), 'Swastik' and 'Om' are inscribed on it. These are round in shape, size equal to that of hand and have a hole in the centre. Silver coins are placed in the holes of these 'badias' and then these are dried in sun. The badia' are then sent by the bride's family to the groom's house. It signifies the acceptance of the wedding between the two families. 'Badia' are also distributed to relatives. Badia function used to be as big as 'Garasun'. All biradari members and relations were called. Guests could be as many as sixty. A tasty meal consisting of Roganjosh, Kalia (yellow meat), Dupyaza, Pulav and sweet dish etc. was served. This function took place in bride's house. This part of the ceremony is also called Shagun. A special saltish porridge is made from rice and pieces of chopped intestines of the goat (chuste). It is called vari. This special delicacy is served to the guests.

When Shagun is not part of the Badia ceremony, badia are cooked once again. The lady (usually pufi) who prepared the dough for the badias places rice, badias, salt and money in a terracota plate (Tok) and holds this on her left shoulder while she prepares the dough for the badias. This 'Zang' (rice, salt, badia, money) is given to Guruji or in some places to the poor and needy as a gesture of good will.

Mehendiraat (Mehe-nzeraat):

Henna for the bride comes from the groom's house as shagun. This function is held in the evening. Though there is no bar to cook meat for this function, but usual cuisine for the dinner includes Dam Alu, Cheese, Sour Brinjal, Palak-Cheese. Old ladies sing 'henze path' and other items available in books. 'Henze' books were supplied by purohits. Young ladies sing hindi filmi numbers. Tumbaknari is not used. Unlike Kashmiri Pandits of Kashmir, pufi has no role in this function - She neither applies henna nor does she get money. Previously, henna was applied on the palms and the nails of the bride, with a mere blob dabbed on the feet. Now professional 'mehendiwallis' have taken over and use henna liberally making intricate patterns on the palms, forearms and on the feet right up to the ankles.

Devgun:

It is the ritual bath for the bride and the groom. Six unmarried girls tie curds in a Muslin cloth and hold it over the head of the bride/the groom. They pour water through this to bathe them.

The Guru conducts the puja around the sacred fire during which the bride wears the 'Dejeharooh' strung on a sacred thread in her ears. The significance of wearing the Dejeharooh is that the bride is now ready for wedding. It is remarkable that the old Kashmiris have clung on to Dejeharooh all through.

Barring Lahore, Delhi and Lucknow, the number of  Pandit families living in different cities of northern India at times did not even exceed ten. It was unusual to find the bridegroom from the same city. Invariably, the baratis had to tread fairly long distances. Pt. Moti Lal Nehru had booked the full train for taking barat of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru from Allahabad to Delhi. This had its impact on some of the ceremonies associated with the marriage. In course of time compulsions became regular customs. Leading families used these innovations to display their affluence.

Laganchir, Sanzivaru, Phoolon Ka Gehna:

It is quite possible that these three ceremonies may not have been on the same day/or the day of barat previously or at places where the bridegroom happened to be from the same city as the bride. All the three ceremonies have Kashmiri origin, though Sanzivaru and Phoolon Ka Gehna have become out of date among Kashmiri Pandits of Kashmir. Till 1930 the cosmetics box given to the bride was called Sanzivaru in Kashmir also. It was a papier mache item, usually  round in shape and had decorative work on it. Items of personal use for the bride were put in it. In village Sanzivaru was made of Wicker. For Phulon Ka Gehna also there is evidence to suggest that this was in vogue among Pandits in Kashmir.

As per Shri Arjun Dev Majboor, a noted poet and accredited researcher a common metaphor prevalent among Pandits of rural Kashmir was: Even if you can give nothing even a dejhoru of flower and a white saree would suffice (Agar na Kihin Hekhas Karith, toiti dijhas Posha dejhor tah safed doiit).  Father-in-Law would suggest this to his counterpart.

All lagans of old Kashmiris used to be rot lagans (night barats). Laganchir, Phoolon Ka Gehna and Sanzvaru functions took place separately with 1-2 hours difference and commenced few hours before the arrival of barat. Purohit would take laganchir to bride's home and get money and sweets as thanks giving.

Sazvaru was an item for the ceremony of decorating the bride. Sanz means decorative and varu means things. Interestingly, Henny Sender calls 'Sazivaru' as 'Satoroo'. About the change, replacing the wood with expensive leather, she critically comments," the switch was regrettable both because it imposed an additional financial demand serving no useful purpose and because it removed the Pandits of the plains just a bit more from the practices of those still in Kashmir".

It used to be an attache of papier mache or carved walnut wood. It included such items for the bride - bindi, silver dabi, nail, missi, teeth shagn, kajal dabi, mirror, comb, saboon dani, powder puff, pashmina shawl etc. All these were made of silver. Sanzvaru also contained Gulab Pash (case containing rose water) and Itar Pash (scent) for baratis. Groom's family was very particular about the sprinkling of Gulab water on them by the bride's family on the procession of barat. Many families sent special instructions through the Purohit for sprinkling of Gulab water. It was linked with the Izzat (honour) of barat. Sanzvaru box was covered well embroidered satin or velvet cloth with 'Sada Suhagan' (long and happy married life) inscribed on it. At times groom's horoscope for passing it on to bride's parents was carried by Purohit in it.

In a slight variation, which reflects an innovation of Lucknawi Pandits, Sanzvaru made of silver was presented. Sanzvaru was taken to bride's home in a procession accompanied by a live band and the Guru.

In Phoolon Ka Gehna ceremony the bride is decorated with jewellery made from flowers. Phoolon Ka Gehna was an indicator of what jewellery groom's side would offer to the bride. Young ladies from the groom's side would carry floral jewellery and a new sari for the bride on a silver plate. They would go to bride's home in a ceremonial procession. A band playing traditional Shehnai music would accompany them. Fresh red roses and jasmine flowers are used for preparing floral jewellery - necklaces, earrings, the 'tikka' braids for the bride's hair, anklets, bazubands (arm bands), 'tagadis' (waist bands), the ankelets and a special thumb ring called 'arsi'. The latter has a small mirror embedded in it to help bride view herself in it. Toys and dolls were also presented to the bride in this function. The bride's side served tea and sweets to the guests from groom's side. In certain cases where Groom's side resided in the same city , Phoolon Ka Gehna ceremony would take place one day before the barat. In that case the bride's side served dinner to the ladies carrying Phoolon Ka Gehna. Henny Sender describes this custom 'Phoolon Ka Gehna' as not only beautiful but also practical.

Seherbandi:

Turban (Pagadi) for the groom is tied by his uncle (in certain families by the brother-in-law). 'Sehra' or floral veil for the groom was common. In wedding rituals of old Kashmiris, a case of departure from Kashmiri Pandits of Kashmir, pufi (father's sister) is not important. Traditional zang on Seherabandi is offered to the purohit. The groom is made to sit on mare. In Lucknow Pandits this was uncommon.

In the family of Late Shivnath Katju sword for the groom was popular. In Lucknow grooms wore Chooridar Pyjama, Sherwani Achkan, flower Sehera, two gold necklaces and gold and jewels studded safa. The Kashmiris of Kashmir would also tie a golden thread called dov around the groom's turban.

After the tying of Sehera the groom is made to stand at the entrance of the house on Viyug (rangoli-drawn in colourful designs). All the elders of the family shower coins on to the 'Viyug' after taking them around the groom's head a few times. 'Zang' is again offered. All this is to keep the groom secure from the 'evil eye'.

Old Kashmiris do not put on special headwear of Zooj and Kalpush on the head of the bride for lagan ceremony.

Arrival of Barat:

The groom used to be brought in a decorated buggie, which is now replaced by car. The servant holds a silver umbrella over the head of the bridegroom. A pot Maharaja (shadow bride groom) with chatri  (umbrella) closely follows the groom. A 'veghu' is laid at the bride's home. The bride is brought to the 'veghu' by her maternal uncle. The barat is welcomed with the sprinkling of rose water. The groom too is taken to the 'vegu' to be alongside the bride.

Barat used to be 80-100 in number depending upon the capacity of the groom's father to pay fare for the barat. On an average barat used to stay for 2-3 days. All the arrangements for lodging and food were made by the bride's family.

Pt. Suraj Narain Bakshi, a scion of an old Kashmiri family of Jammu and related to the clan of Nand Ram Tiku from his mother's side, recalls, "I once went with barat to Nathdwara in Rajasthan. The barat stayed there for 6-7 days. The bride's father was a high official there. All the shopkeepers of the town had instructions from him to lavishly entertain the baratis. Even for whatever the baratis purchased in the market, the entire bill was footed by the bride's father".

There were also certain innovations in 'arrival of barat' ceremony. Pt. Suraj Bakshi's grandfather, Pt. Jagan Bakshi was married in Aima family of Srinagar. Colour was added to the barat through the presence of professional lady dancers, band and large-scale bursting of crackers. Such paraphernalia was otherwise uncommon in Kashmir.

Sh. Suraj Bakshi's father Pt. Iqbal Nath was married to the daughter of Late Maharaj Krish an Tikku, a direct descendant of Nand Ram Tiku's brother . The latter was an official in Punjab National Bank and had died before the marriage of his daughter. The bride's maternal grandfather, who hailed from the family of Kouls in Srinagar, had arranged the marriage function in Srinagar. Barat of Sh. Iqbal Nath went in boat.

On arrival of barat, bride's side used to release pigeons to ward off evil-spirit to bridegroom. This practice was prevalent in Kashmir also in 1930s and 1940s. Gota is then served to barat.

Its preparation was a troublesome procedure - coconut was grinded in Chakki/machine to appear as thin rice flakes. Barat is then given Sharbat to drink. Barat is treated to a grand vegetarian feast. Food was served in patras (leaves) or  thalis. In case of rot lagan the wedding couple also joins the dinner. The groom eats in a silver plate and after that the bride is fed from the same plate. There are some variations of this in Lahore and Lucknow Pandits. The parents of the bride usually fast on the day of lagan. Hazri custom was seen among UP Kashmiri Pandits. Different types of sweets are served. Hazri could be choti   (small) or badi (big). In choti hazri sweets were served in a cup, while in badi one plenty of sweets were available.

Lagan:

After the lavish vegetarian meals, the wedding ritual is performed around the sacred fire. After the seven pheras the couple is made to sit facing each other under a pashmina shawl. It is the same shawl that was sent by the groom's family in Sanzvaru'. The couple view each other  through a silver mirror. The wedding ritual may at times last the whole night. Posh Puja is a ritual that these old Kashmiris have preserved in its original flavour. Late Amar Nath Sapru had dilated upon the significance of this ritual nine decades back in an interesting treatise. The present author also had the opportunity to go through Ranjit S.Pandit's commentary on wedding rituals, including on Poshpuja at Anand Bhavan, Allahabad. This has been displayed in the form of plaque put on the verandah where lagan ceremony for Indira and Feroz Gandhi was performed.

Posh Puja is performed in the morning after the wedding ritual. Close relatives participate in this ritual, where flowers are showered on the couple and blessings given for happy married life. Members of the bride's family stand near the bride, while those of the groom's stand next to the groom. In Posh Puja the wedding couple are treated as Shiva and Parvati and worshipped as such. Daya bata is given to the couple after Posh Puja, cook gets the shagoon. In Dayabata the bride and the groom feed each other some food, essentially rice, signifying the end of the ceremony.

Bidai (vidai or departing):

The send off ceremony is called Bedai (vidai). The bride is escorted to the Viyug and takes some coins in her hands. She throws these over the top of her head.

Mam Nabad was a heavy item for bride's parents, shawl or suitings were given. In Punjabis Mama or Mossy Ki Matni is given, depending upon the stakes involved.

On arrival at the marital home the couple is made to sit on large upturned baskets. They are made to  feed each other with sweet rice and curd. Now the Dejeharooh is removed and replaced with silver tassels or Atahroo. This is the final confirmation of wedding status. In Kashmir the couple was made to sit on the hearth. The cook would serve food-sweet rice, vegetables and curds. This is fed to the couple by the pofi. The cook is given dan zang (Hearth thanks giving).

Satraat:

For Satraat the couple was taken to temple where there would be change of lagan dress both for the groom and the bride. Lot of utensils were given. Some families used to give the whole satraat of silver.

Garasun:

While Kashmiris resident in Kashmir call this function as Gara-atchun, old Kashmiris pronounce it is Gara-Sun.

The bride's brother and sister come to their sister's marital home to take her to her parent's home for one day. Garasun function is completed before departure of the barat. The bride's family throws a lavish non-veg. feast to welcome the relations of the groom. Food was served with full protocol. The delicacies were prepared by Kashmiri cooks. Their number was 25-30 and were resident mostly in Lucknow and Meerut. From there they would go to different cities of Northern Indian to cook food in wedding functions of Kashmiri Pandits.

 The relatives of the boy are paid money. In 1940 the amount to be paid to them could range from Rs 5 to 50 thousand. Garasun meal was usually a lunch function. The groom's side used to be quite demanding. It is also true that the previous generations in this respect were a little more sophisticated. Garasun and phirsal used to be a common function because the families of the bride and groom used to live in distant cities. The bride's relations were not called for garasun by the groom's side in reciprocation.

Parmasum:

Parmasun was another meal served to the baratis on the day following Garasun. What significance this ceremony had among old Kashmiris is not clear. According to Sh. Arjun Dev Majboor Parmasun means change of clothes. After lagan, in-laws dress the bride in a new clothes. The groom also changes the dress. In villages of rural Kashmir and among old Kashmiris where the groom was from a distant place this change of clothes was not done at the marital home but at some person's house nearby.

Bidai Ka Khana: Baratis were also served packed lunch for return journey.

Lagan Ke Baad Mithai: The distribution of sweets after marriage was a custom probably copied from the Muslims. The distribution had come to embrace more and more recipients. Sweets were presented to the in-laws of the bride alongwith other gifts. Probably, this a replica of Roth Khabar function.

Gulmuth, the gifts/cash offered by relatives to the bride/the bridegroom is called by the same name by old Kashmiris.

Postwedding customs in the following year are not cumbersome among old Kashmiris. Since Shivratri was not celebrated by old Kashmiris in Kashmiri style it has no special significance in wedding. The bride is not called to parental home on the occasion, no walnuts or gifts are given on the occasion. On Navreh, called Navroz by old Kashmiris, the bride's parents would invite groom and serve sweets. Cash and clothes used to be given to the groom. For groom's side birthday function of the boy used to be a big affair. A lavish feast was served to the guests. On the birthday of the bride/the groom turmeric laced rice is prepared but no gifts are sent by the bride's side to the groom. Unlike Kashmiris of Kashmir, old Kashmiris would not send cash on birthdays of the close relations of the groom. There is no Shishur function among old Kashmiris. Instead on Diwali and Holi, to show sensitivity to the customs of the places of new settlement, cash, dress and sweets are sent to the groom's side. This giving of money on festival day was called by old Kashmiris as lawaz-ma.

Postscript:

Certain non-wedding customs among old Kashmiris show the impact of displacement. Ekadashi and Purnmashis/Satynarain became more important than Ashtmi. Mundan function was not an important one. Janev was a very important function. Duribat of Matamal was usual. First Abeeed was as usual given by Mossy. Unlike Kashmiris of Kashmir, in old Kashmiris cash abeed was not only given to Guruji, but cash and at times gifts were also offered to the boy undergoing Yagneopavit ceremony. Maximum age for Janev in old days used to be 15-16 years. No meat was prepared on Kushalhom function. On the day of Navreh (Navroz) Thal barun was practised. There was no difference in death rituals.

(Note: In preparation of this article my special thanks are due to Dr. BN Sharga and Sh Suraj Narain Bakshi for providing me rare photographs / documents. Besides this Sh Arjun Dev Majboor, Mrs. Madan Shungloo and my parents provided valuable inputs to help me build a historical perspective on it. Much more information needs to be recorded on this subject than has been recorded here -- The Author)

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

 
 

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