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Navigating complexities:: Unravelling the perception of Marriage in contemporary Kashmir

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By: Saima Hamid

In the picturesque valleys of Kashmir, where beauty meets tradition, a nuanced discourse has emerged surrounding the institution of marriage. While marriage has long been considered a sacred bond, some individuals in Kashmir find themselves grappling with a perception that veers towards labeling it as a curse in the modern context. Kashmir, with its rich cultural tapestry, has witnessed various phases of history that have shaped societal norms. Traditionally, marriage in the region was deeply embedded in cultural and religious practices, serving as a cornerstone for familial and societal stability. However, with the passage of time, socio-political changes and global influences have begun to redefine the landscape of matrimony in Kashmir.

Traditional social evil: Dowry, one of the oldest social evil is prevailing still in our society which needs to be discouraged as stated by our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It goes against the principles of simplicity and social justice. Islam emphasizes mutual consent in marriage and discourages financial burdens on families. The Prophet Muhammad said, “The best marriage is that upon with the least trouble and expense is bestowed.” Therefore, Islam encourages moderation and opposes the practice of dowry as a social evil.

Shift in social evil: In the context of marriage in Kashmir, there has been a shift from the traditional social evil practice of taking dowry from the bride to a situation where the groom is now expected not only to provide meher which is no doubt a religious obligations rather he has to provide gold or other valuable items to the bride. This new social evil has now created financial challenges for most of the families, as they now face the burden of not only meeting meher expectations but also bearing additional costs, making it more financially demanding to get married. The consequence of this reversed marriage dynamic in Kashmir is a heightened financial strain on the groom and his family. The expectation for the groom to provide substantial meher and additional gifts, such as gold, can lead to increased financial pressure on boys and hence result in delayed marriages.

Changing dynamics: The younger generation, exposed to a globalized world through technology and education, is challenging gender roles, and a desire for personal autonomy is reshaping the expectations individuals bring to the institution. This shift has led some to question whether marriage, once perceived as a source of joy and companionship, has become a burden in contemporary Kashmiri society.

Economic Pressures: Rising unemployment rates and economic challenges in the region add an additional layer of complexity to marital dynamics. The financial strain on families, coupled with the traditional expectation of elaborate weddings, has contributed to a perception that marriage may come with a heavy economic burden, potentially exacerbating the notion of it being a curse.

Gender Dynamics: The evolving roles of women in Kashmiri society are also integral to this discussion. With increased access to education and opportunities, women are redefining their roles both within and outside the confines of marriage. This shift in dynamics can create tensions between traditional expectations and modern aspirations, further fueling the perception that marriage may not align with the pursuit of individual goals and ambitions.

Social Stigma: The stigma surrounding divorce and societal judgment adds another layer of complexity to the discourse on marriage due to fear of judgment or ostracization, contributing to the perception that marriage is more of a societal obligation than a personal choice.

Conclusion: In navigating the complexities of changing societal dynamics, it is essential to engage in open dialogue that acknowledges the diverse perspectives surrounding marriage in Kashmir .While some view it as a source of stability and cultural continuity, others contend with the challenges that come with evolving societal expectations. Understanding and respecting these varied viewpoints can pave the way for a more inclusive discourse that addresses the concerns and aspirations of all individuals involved, ultimately fostering a healthier approach to the institution of marriage in contemporary Kashmir.

The author is working as a teacher in school education dept. and can be mailed at [email protected]

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