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Baba Wayil: The village where dowry is banned

From the past 3 decades, austere marriages are taking the small hamlet of Ganderbal district

Post by on Sunday, September 19, 2021

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Two months before, when Nayeem Ahmad Shah and his brother, both residents of Baba Wayil area of central Kashmir's Ganderbal district were married in a simple way and total cost of the marriage was below 10,000 rupees.
The village is situated around 35 kilometers from Srinagar and  has a population of 1000 people and around 175-200 households.  For the past 17 years, simple weddings have been taking place in the village and mostly people of the village are associated with walnut and shawl businesses.
The 28 years old Shah told Rising Kashmir that dowry is banned in the entire village and around 100 families have signed the official document to neither receive nor give dowry and then implemented the same on the ground.
Revealing further details about his marriage in July this year, Shah said his marriage was arranged and it took just 5 days to insist the bride’s family for marriage. Such marriages have been taking place for decades in our village, for that credit goes to our village elders, he said.
“I personally offered 2600 rupees Mehr to the bride and 1,000 rupees to Masjid Imam, who signed the marriage document along with other village heads. Similarly my brother also followed the same pattern and married in a simple way,” Shah said.
Shah says the total expense of two marriages was below 10,000 rupees and I am thankful to Almighty Allah for this. There were no demands from either side in exchange for the wedding. We are living like a family in the entire village,’ he said.
“My father-in-law is a government employee and is working in the education department. He could have easily managed things but he followed the traditional way like other people in the village,” Shah said.
Interestingly, the village elders have signed a document, which was amended in 2018 which mentions that the groom's family cannot demand anything from the bride's side. While a groom’s family has to give 50,000 rupees to the bride's family including Rs 20,000 Mehr and 20,000 for wedding clothes and 10,000 for other expenses.
“If anyone violates the same directions, his or her family is boycotted. They are not allowed to pray at the local Masjid and nor allowed to bury in the graveyard and attend the funeral of the family,” document said.
Shah said seven to eight percent people in the village have married outside the village but all have followed the traditional rules of the village and have boycotted the dowry and other unwanted rituals.
“This year so far 15-16 marriages have taken place in the village and all were simple. People are living happily in this village and interestingly we are all relatives by one end or other means,” he said.
As per the villagers, the instructions regarding the dowry were already in place for the past 40 years. It came into existence, when one of the families from the village had crossed the limits in the village. Then it was decided to boycott the family in all aspects.
Bashir Ahmad Shah, 60, who is also prayer head (Imam) in Jamia Masjid Wayil said the tradition of simple marriages has been taking place for decades and in 2004 an official document was signed. 
“It was the year 2004, when village heads decided to completely ban dowry and other extravagant norms and traditions. It was attended by all senior heads of the village,” he said.
After witnessing the rise in dowry cases in the entire Valley and due to which the children were going to suffer, we decided to make an official stamp document in which we mentioned do’s and don’ts for the weddings, he said.
“That time it was signed by more than 100 members of the village. Initially it was decided to pay rupees 900 Mehr for the bride, but the groom's family had to pay rupees 15,000 towards the bride's family for marriage preparation. Apart from cash, 40 kilogram meat, 50 kg rice was also given to the bride's family,” he said.
The 60 year old Bashir said following the prevailing situation, the same document was amended in 2018. Now the groom's family had to pay 50,000 including 20,000 for Mehr and rest for other expenses, he said.
“Gold is boycotted from both ends, new methods are totally unacceptable. If anyone violates the same law, we can take strict action against them as they all have signed the official document,” Bashir said.
About the marriage function, he said they have advised the entire village, there should be four to five recipes of Wazwan in the function. Earlier 15-20 persons used to accompany the groom to the bride's house; now only three to four persons prefer to go, he said.
“It is all because of the support of youth in the village and we are really proud of it. In the past 17-18 years, not a single violation of laws has been reported in our village. You can ask anyone in our village and they are all happy about this,” Bashir said.
He said when the groom's family visits the bride’s family for the first time, (Thap Trawin), only one woman from the groom's side visits the family. After that they jointly decide about the engagement (Nisheen) and for which three to four persons are being invited from both ends.
“Those who are taking dowry and spend extravagantly on weddings are treated as aliens in our villages. We believe in a vibrant society where no one should be compelled to pay lakhs to marry her daughter,” Bashir said.
"There is not a single incident where any family has received a complaint regarding the instructions regarding official document," he said 
Another local of the village, Syed Javid Ahmad said it is believed that before a few decades, some person in Village had taken dowry from a bride’s family and had crossed the limit. Following which his family was entirely boycotted by elders that time and since then simple marriages are taking place,” he said.
Syed said the decision was officially implemented in 2004 and since then all marriages in the village as per that document.
“I was married in 2015 and bore all the expenses including the bridal clothes for my wife. There was no burden on the bride’s family. I spent only 15,000 rupees on clothing, perfumes, shoes and a pair of sandals. The total cost of my marriage was around 60,000-65,000 rupees,” Syed said.
30 year old, Syed says people should marry in a simple way, so that it can bring a revolution in Kashmir. We are witnessing how money is being wasted in marriages and only people can stop it,” he said.
“Hundreds of our sisters are not married due to dowry and other social evils. We should never look to other people but change ourselves first,” Syed said, adding it is a worrying trend; domestic cases are increasing in Kashmir.
He said at the village end, they are trying to improve the marriage system, so that it can be an example for all the people in Kashmir. We are all thankful to Almighty Allah and pray to ease the problems in entire Kashmir,” he said.
“Self-made customs in Kashmiri marriages are only acting like a virus, which is degrading its social fabric. We should discourage such marriages, where people are forced to take bank debts to marry their children and encourage simple marriages in every part of the Valley,” Syed added
 

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