Celebrating Simplicity and Dowry-Free Weddings in Kashmir’s Ganderbal District
Mohammad Yaseen Malik
Nestled in the heart of the Ganderbal district, Baba Wayil is a small village of 1100 population, where the simplicity and tradition of marriage ceremonies have remained unchanged for decades. People of this village, have been following the tradition of simple and dowry-free weddings.
Despite the trend of extravagant weddings taking over the region, Baba Wayil’s residents have remained true to their roots and opted for simple yet meaningful ceremonies, with an expenditure of only below 50 thousand rupees.
In a region where extravagant wedding functions have become a burgeoning industry, Baba Wayil is a refreshing contrast. The villagers, mainly engaged in walnut and shawl businesses, prefer to keep their weddings simple and affordable, with an average expenditure of below 50,000 rupees.
As per the Kashmir News Watch-KNW, The village’s unique approach to marriage ceremonies was born out of a need to address the issue of dowry. In 2004, the village elders passed an official document banning the practice of dowry. The document stipulated that neither the bride’s nor the groom’s family would give or receive any dowry. Interestingly, this tradition of dowry-free weddings is still being followed in the village, with 5-8% of the population having married outside the village while adhering to the same rule.
As per the village’s official document, the groom’s family is required to pay a meagre sum of 900 rupees as Mehr to the bride, along with 15,000 rupees towards the marriage preparations. Additionally, the bride’s family receives 40 kg of meat and 50 kg of rice as part of the wedding ceremony. In 2018, the document was amended to completely boycott the exchange of gold. As a result, the groom’s family now pays a total of 50,000 rupees, out of which 20,000 rupees is for Mehr, and the remaining sum is for other expenses.
Despite the low cost of the ceremonies, the villagers take great pride in adhering to their traditions. 22-year-old Ashfaq Ahmed, a resident, says that Baba Wayil’s simple weddings are a reflection of the village’s values and beliefs. “Our elders have always taught us to keep things simple and meaningful. Our weddings are not about showcasing wealth or status, but about celebrating the union of two families in a way that respects our traditions.”
The village heads also advise keeping the number of dishes limited to four or five Wazwan recipes, and only three to four people now accompany the groom to the bride’s house, compared to the 15-20 people in the past.
Baba Wayil’s unique approach to weddings is a refreshing change from the extravagant ceremonies that have become the norm in the region. The village serves as a beacon of hope for those who wish to follow traditions that are simple, meaningful, and dowry-free.
In a time where the world is increasingly complex and fast-paced, Baba Wayil’s village community stands as a reminder of the power of simplicity and tradition.(KNW)