Last week, Rohail, scion of the Khwaja Saifuddin Gunna family, promoters of the Saifco group and now Taj Vivanta, the Taj group’s first hotel in Srinagar, married Adiya, granddaughter of Ghulam Qadir Kowousa. The wedding was preceded by six days of merrymaking and feasting by friends and relatives gathered from around the world. Some 10 acres of apple orchards surrounding the bride’s family home in Nishat were lit up with fairy lights. The wedding feast, the wazwan, comprised of 18 courses. “It’s almost as if we are breathing again. After years we are seeing a wedding like this in our family and since the situation is quite peaceful now, it was unanimously decided to have a grand celebration,” says Rouf Shah Kowousa, the bride’s uncle. The groom’s house, right opposite the high-security Badami Bagh cantonment, saw fireworks late into the night.
The big, fat Kashmiri wedding is back with a bang. In the last two decades of violent conflict, traditional wedding celebrations had been hit hard. Fear of the gun, militant diktats and a number of attacks on wedding celebrations had made people go in for small, quiet ceremonies where the biggest casualty was the wazwan. Just kahwa and roti at the bride’s place and a hurried ceremony became the norm during the troubled years. Even last year, when the stone-pelting protests led to violent clashes, several people who had planned big affairs were forced to abandon them.