A tale of unmarried girls and Dowry free village of Kashmir

Ground Report | New Delhi: A tale of unmarried girls; Badaghar Babe Wayil is a small village of 1,000 people Where people cultivate walnuts and sell pashmina shawls. 30 years ago, this village, located at a distance of about 25 km from Srinagar, took a historic decision and continues to do so even today.

Dowry free village

Dowry is strictly prohibited in Badaghar Babe Wayil village of Ganderbal district and all the villagers have signed a stamp paper promising neither to take nor not to give dowry.

In this village of Jammu and Kashmir, the relationship of simple marriages has been maintained for the last three decades.

 The villagers had prepared a dowry document 30 years ago on a stamp paper, which was signed by the Imam and village elders, and some prominent people.

The document also stipulated that the groom’s family should not demand anything from the bride’s side. Instead, the boy side gives a gift of Rs 50,000 to the bride. This includes Rs 20,000 as Mehr, Rs 20,000 as Warden, and Rs 10,000 for wedding dresses and other expenses for the bride.’

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Speaking to Groundreport.in Farooq Ahmad, a local shopkeeper said “Mehr is an essential legal right of the bride and is given as a mark of respect by her groom during the marriage.

“We remain vigilant and boycott those who demand dowry. They are not allowed to offer namaz in the mosque and their families do not get a place in the graveyard.” He said that since the day this village has signed the anti-dowry document, no dowry cases have come to light from Badaghar. For the last three decades, people here are being conducted Wedding ceremonies in a very simple manner.

The parents of girls who get married outside the village also place these conditions in front of the groom and perform the program according to the custom of the big house. Danish, 28, of the village, got married last year during Covid-19. “Most of the people here are middle class. Although some people can do more expensive marriages still they get married in simple ways.” Danish said. (A tale of unmarried girls)

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“I went to the bride’s house with four people and did the nikah there. Everything was done with simplicity. We didn’t ask for anything from her parents.” Danish said.

A tale of unmarried girl

Saima Rashid (name changed), 38, an unemployed graduate, is engaged for the past four years, but the marriage has been postponed until her family can arrange for dowry.

Saima’s father is blind and his brother is the sole breadwinner in the family earning around Rs 10,000 per month. She says that her family is still collecting money to have a grand wedding.

In Kashmir the issue of dowry is common. “We are collecting items for dowry and saving for the many rituals and customs that take place in the traditional Kashmiri wedding ceremony,” she says.

Insha (35) is well educated with an M.Sc degree. She is beautiful comes from a reputed family of Srinagar but Insha could not find a life partner and that is why she is still unmarried.

ALSO READ: Rising Suicide Rates In Kashmir

Insha, whose father is employed in a government department, could have been married early in the usual manner, except “her parents were very hysterical about her marrying only a doctor or engineer,” said Danish, Insha’s cousin. While they were waiting for the best doctor/engineer, Insha crossed the marital age.

Insha told GroundReport.in that like most Kashmiris of her generation, my parents believe there are only two legitimate professions: doctor and engineer (not medicine and engineering, but doctor and engineer). Yes, they’ve heard about new-fangled businesses like investment banking and law, but, oh no, they won’t be fooled. The saying can be heard all over Kashmir, “It’s a good match: they found the doctor,” and my father expects nothing less for his little girl.

Local Youth Saqib Ahmad Mir said that due to unemployment the cases of dowry has been increased, he added that if we as a society want to end this dowry system then the only way is to educated people.

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He added, we have seen a lot of suicide cases due to dowry in the Kashmir valley even some of them go unnoticed, but only education and employment end this system to some extent.      

40,000 girls’ unmarried

A Law Student Gousia Shah, Speaking to GroundReport.in that, “The custom of giving a daughter a wedding gift as affection was at one point very ugly.”

She said, “In-laws demand everything from the girl that’s one of the most problems in Kashmir valley, poor families are saving for the many rituals and customs that take place in the traditional Kashmiri wedding ceremony”.

Gousia said that to get rid of the evil of the dowry system, we lied to the youth. “If we demand dowry from the bride’s family, our sisters will also have to do it at some point.

She said “In-laws start demand so much from girl’s parents, as a result, most of the girls are unmarried in Kashmir valley, the new trend started by some family in Kashmir is effecting everyone which is the main reason for the increase of dowry issues across the valley. (A tale of unmarried girls)   

She said that “A study on the number of unmarried older women revealed that in Srinagar alone, nearly 40,000 girls have crossed the marriageable age, this is the reality of Kashmir.

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  • Wahid Bhat

    Wahid Bhat is an environmental journalist with a passion for covering climate change and environmental issues. He holds a degree in English Journalism (EJ) from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication and has received Media Fellow for NFI India (National Foundation for India) and Thomson Reuters Foundation. Wahid's reporting has been published in a range of respected outlets including Earth Journalism, Global Village Space, The Quint, Youth Ki Awaaz, and Devdiscourse Wahidb@groundreport.in

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