Marriage is one of the most memorable moments in a girl's life, and what makes it more interesting for her is the concept of â€˜shoppingâ€™.Â However, in the past one and a half year, the Covid-19 pandemic has played a spoilsport for the brides-to-be in Kashmir to do their wedding shopping plans.
In Kashmir weddings are usually celebrated with lavish functions that last for at least three days. However, the lockdown and a cap on guests by the government to curb the spread of the virus, has made the wedding a low key affair in the valley lately.
As per guidelines issued by the J&K administration, only 25 guests are allowed to attend any marriage function in Kashmir which usually witnesses the participation of 400-500 guests on normal days.
Though the pandemic has drastically changed the traditional wedding plans in Kashmir, many couples are still getting engaged to start a new chapter in their lives, but with limited avenues to do their shopping.
Humaira Asad, 31, was supposed to get married after Eid-ul-Fitr this year but due to the spike in cases of Covid-19 her family has postponed the wedding date.
â€œI was supposed to get married on May 23 this year but unfortunately it got postponed to October because of the Covid-19 second wave,â€ Humaira said.
Humairaâ€™s wedding invitation cards were printed as well.
â€œWe had printed invitations for the wedding, but the lockdown came as a dampener,â€ she said. â€œI had been eagerly waiting for my big day but everything got messed up due to the pandemic.â€
Humaira said like every other bride-to-be she had made many plans for her wedding shopping.
â€œI had done all my shopping from outside the valley. But without a wedding dress, a marriage canâ€™t happen, so it had to be postponed,â€ she said.
Humairaâ€™s wedding date was decided last year.
Â â€œI was supposed to get my lehenga and jewellery from Delhi. It is difficult to get all that stuff in the lockdown,â€ she lamented.
Humaira said her wedding is now going to be a family affair with only 15-20 people participating in the marriage.
Â Azka Ibrahim,28,Â who got engaged last year in October was supposed to get married on July 17.
Amid lockdown, Azkaâ€™s shopping experience has been very "tiring and stressful".
â€œI love shopping but this time itâ€™s a different experience. This is a time that none of us has ever faced," she said.
With limited shopping avenues available in the lockdown, Azka, like many other brides-to-be, switched to online shopping to buy the necessary items for her wedding.
â€œI did a little shopping in winter when the pandemic was at its lowest ebb, but with the rise in Covid cases again in April there were no shopping avenues left, so I switched to online shopping.â€
However, Azka said that online shopping won't give the satisfaction that one gets while visiting the shop and experiencing things first-hand before buying it.
"You can't choose wedding dresses online. You need to be physically present to try them out and feel the fibre," she said.
Azka is still struggling with her shopping with not many days left in her marriage.
â€œI sometimes think that my wedding date should be postponed as I have to do a lot of shopping which cannot be done in 20 days time,â€ she said. "Shopping online for my wedding has caused me immense stress. This is not how I dreamed about my wedding."
While some couples are managing to make it through these times unscathed, others have experienced serious setbacks.
Durdana Ishaq, 34, got engaged in 2018 and her wedding was scheduled for September 2019.
However, due to the uncertainty post abrogation of Article 370 followed by the Covid-19 pandemic, her marriage got cancelled.
Belonging to a middle-class family, Durdana said she had started her wedding shopping even before getting engaged.
â€œI am the only child in my family. My family left no stone unturned, they gave me everything that a bride needs for a marriage,â€ she said.Â â€œI did most of the shopping from Delhi. But there are still many things that need to be bought before the wedding."
Durdana said the most exciting thing about a girl for her marriage is wedding dress.
Â â€œI have plans for my wedding dress and I want it to be designed my way. I can't compromise on that," she said.
Â Durdanaâ€™s wedding is finally scheduled for November this year and she is hopeful the Covid-19 cases will decrease and she will be done with all her wedding preparations by then.