Economics Analysis of Weddings in Kashmir

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By: Fahid Fayaz Darangay

 “But waste not by excess: for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Quran, 6:141).

The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said that “The marriage which is most greatly blessed is the one which is the lightest in burden [expenses]. However, if people are well catered for, without extravagance and show, there is no problem with that either.” (Reported by Bayhaqi).

In the current times in a normal wedding the guest count ranges from 700 people to sometimes the extravagant ones whose guest list exceed 2,000. If calculated the cost per plate or per head count is almost 700-800, in total making the total catering cost from   50000-60000 to 1.5 lakh. This cost is only of the main wedding date. The engagement and cup ceremony catering cost is also almost 30000 to 40000. So the total catering cost is almost 1 lakh to 2 lakh. For pre-wedding ceremonies the sweets and gifts also costs almost 1000-1500 per guest, where generally the guest count ranges from 20-40 making this cost of about 30000-50000. The bride has also to bear the cost of  jewelry for in laws particularly mother in law, suits, other gifts for groom’s family and close relatives which costs of almost 50000 to 1 lakh.

Including this, the bride price and jewelry for bride, for a middle-class Kashmiri groom on average is Rs 2-4 lakhs, many  Kashmiris said in interviews .The poor are not behind in this race . A laborer, for instance, making about Rs 300 a day, may well spend more than almost a lakh rupees. Thus in Kashmir a middle class wedding costs 7-10 lakh, the upper class ones 10-20 lakh and poor also 2-3 lakhs. Additionally many book marriage halls, hotels, professional singers etc. which can also cost 1-2 lakh.

This means a salaried person if saves 13000-18000 per month will have to save for 6-8 years continuously to afford the middle class wedding . If any young person gets employed after his masters or at 23-24,  he will afford this wedding at 30 and if as in general struggles to find at 27-28 years of age , will afford it at his late 30s or early 40s. This is the main reason for the increasing percentages of late marriages in Kashmir.

This is the main reason for the hurting figures in the following study conducted by the Department of Sociology of the University of Kashmir which puts the percentage of the state’s unmarried population at 55 per cent (numbering 8,97,289 in the age bracket of 20-35) based on the census data of 30 years. This percentage is significantly higher than the national average of 49 per cent. Single men (54.7 per cent of the total population) outnumber unwed women (45.12 per cent).

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said to make marriage easy and do carry it out if you can afford it. He said “Make Nikah Easy So that Zina will stop” and it certainly will. When young men and women do not feel the pressure to spend so much on a wedding they will be open about the concept of carrying out Nikah and will stay away from haram and zina. We hence have a simple formula of  stopping zina and we should implement that.

Anas (radi allahu anhu) narrates that the Prophet (PBUH) seeing a yellow mark (of perfume) on the clothes of ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf, said, “What about you?” ‘Abdur-Rahman replied, “I have married a woman with a Mahr of gold equal to a date-stone.” The Prophet said, “May Allah bestow His Blessing on you (in your marriage). Give a wedding banquet, (Walima) even with one sheep.” (Sahih Bukhari: Vol 8, 395).

This was the simplicity and cost of Nikah.

  • The writer hails from Bijbehara and is Honours in Economics from Aligarh Muslim University, currently pursuing Masters in Financial Economics from Madras School of Economics, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

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