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Gift what is left

Post by on Sunday, April 17, 2022

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A wedding dress is worn not beyond a few hours and almost never after the Walima. Though brides fix their emotions with their wedding dress after a few years, they feel like disposing of it to save them some space in the wardrobe. Some sell it for a few bucks, while others give it to someone where it is blocked again.


Ulfat (name changed), 35, from Buchpora, who finally got engaged after years of trying to find a match, is both excited and worried. She worries about the expenses of the marriage. The eldest among two brothers, Ulfat has been earning for the family as both the parents died in her childhood. "Everything is so expensive nowadays, from suits to bags, nothing seems to fit in my budget. Whatever I earn is used to buy daily groceries and food. I only have two suits and a pair of heels for my marriage that I managed to buy from little savings I have had all this time." says Ulfat.

Ulfat is one of the thousand girls who are worried about the expenses that marriage brings in.

Seeing posts on social media regarding brides-to-be requesting friends to lend them their lehengas or a wedding gown for a day or two to meet the requirements of their engagement or wedding day, an idea struck Dr. Nadia Shah, an assistant professor by profession who hails from Hazratbal, Srinagar to come up with an organization that helps distressed brides. An initiative of reusing old wedding dresses to curb wedding expenses and allow all these people to achieve the holy alliance, i.e., marriage.

Weddings often direct families to financial ruin. A ceremony where two people nay two families are united turns into an economic burden that takes years to get rid of. There are many aspects of a wedding event, and 9 out of 10 are completely dependent on the availability of money.

One crucial aspect is the dress to be worn by the bride and the groom on the day, which for many is the most important day of their lives. Kashmiri weddings involve a multitude of ceremonies for which the bride requires different dresses.

Dr. Nadia is an active social media user, but instead of scrolling mindlessly, she tries to benefit society by using social networking sites to their full potential. "Gift what is left" is an organization that helps distressed brides to feel beautiful at their wedding without breaking their bank accounts.

"The name itself signifies what the organization is about. Just gift something from your wardrobe that you haven't worn or don't plan on wearing anymore. Such clothes are lying unworn and mothballed in our cupboards anyway." said Nadia.

When asked about how the idea came in, Dr said, "I had always wanted to do something for the society, but being a working mother, I had other responsibilities that I needed to cater to. But one day back in December 2020, I had a get-together with my family, and there we discussed how we could benefit society, and this idea popped up. The conversation with my sister and sister-in-law was so insightful that we decided to use social media in a fruitful way and thus made a Facebook page with the name "Gift What Is Left."

This initiative started in December 2020 and since then Nadia and her team has been able to support 20 brides.

"There is no monetary help involved, only a social group formed on Facebook that helps us to connect to distressed brides that don't come from a well-to-do family. Some people come to us with money, but we urge them to go shopping instead and buy suits and accessories that a bride would need. We don't take donations in the form of money. Also, if they want to return the stuff after using it, that's fine. If they don't, that's ok too. I want the brides to have a sense of ownership about the dress, and by giving things back, the chain keeps getting stronger and longer." Nadia added.

Talking about the difficulties in the beginning, she said "we had to talk about it in social groups, but then there were so many more needy women out there who required help but didn't have access to me. So, I reached out to my friends and family through social media to ask them if they'd like to donate their wedding attire to these brides. We made this page, and it received immense support, and with time, it started gaining momentum. Also, when people saw the motive behind the organization, they also started believing in it, and Alhamdulillah, now people come with help without us advertising it."

Word has spread quickly, and now underprivileged brides get in touch with the organization directly through social media. Widows, single mothers, and those remarrying are part of the mix too.

While acknowledging the efforts of every one part of the group Nadia said, "It is a group organization where everyone plays a vital role, from donators to the distressed. Besides, calling myself the face of the group would do injustice to the immense support we have been receiving from friends and followers on social media. However, technically speaking, I may be holding the reins of this group, but I have an associated team comprising of my sister, sister-in-law, her sister, and a friend, who are ever ready to fill in where I may not possibly reach."

People like Nadia Shah strive hard to make the world a better place to live in. " In times of chaos and hustle, a little reminder to us; A little act of kindness can bring about a big difference; a positive difference." She concluded.

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