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When govt controls your wedding list
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar |
June 01, 2004 15:47 IST
The Jammu and Kashmir government's decision to bring marriages under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, has thrown cold water over a lot of ceremonies planned this summer.
The act empowers the government to "regulate the number of guests and menu at any marriage function in the state".
Under the act, families have to inform police and the department of Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs about the number of guests and menu.
Those violating the law can be jailed for three years.
The order takes effect on June 6, and families are now scrambling to conduct marriages before that.
It is not an easy decision as they all depend heavily on wazas, or chefs, who are short in number and whose schedules are already packed.
"I have been fortunate to reschedule my arrangements with the wazas, but not without paying through my nose," says Abdul Rashid, a resident of Srinagar whose daughter is getting married.
"We faced lot of problems. We never wanted to annoy our close relatives by not inviting them to the marriage."
But there are hundreds of families that have not been able to reschedule their marriage functions.
According to the rule, if one daughter is getting married, the family can cook 45kg rice and meat each.
If two daughters are getting married, the limit is 60kg.
And if a son is getting married 30kg of rice and meat can be cooked.
"The bride's family has been allowed to invite 75 guests, including 25 baratis while the groom's family can invite 50 guests," according to Food Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din.
"The local administration is digging up graves. The guest control order was allowed to lapse 20 years ago," says Nazir Ahmad, whose daughter will marry in July. "They have fixed a limit of 45kg mutton and 45kg rice for a girl's marriage. This is pittance, as the guest list for an average Kashmiri family runs in hundreds. It would have been better had the government banned cooking of food at marriages," he says.
"I will be a social outcast the moment I tell my sister's husband to stand at the reception of my daughter's marriage, but leave once the food arrives," says Rashid.
There are people who support the government, but they opine that instead of controlling the guests the administration should restrict the number of courses to between five and seven, instead of the present 25.
"The minister should have prepared the ground first. I think many poor Kashmiris and even rich would have supported the initiative had they taken the various sections of the society into confidence," says college lecturer Mohammad Amin. "The police will only harass people, as they have been given a free hand."
"The minister has failed at every front of public distribution system in the state and is now trying to enforce his writ by reviving a dead law," says a state official wishing anonymity.