The Marriage Market
Zeeshan Banday (JNU)
“Marriages are settled in heaven and celebrated here on earth,” reads every invitation card in Kashmir irrespective of the lingual form it has viz. English, Urdu or for that matter Kashmiri. I have always been touched by the lines on our invitation cards.
The spirit of the act brings to life the virtues that may lie in the exercise and puts to rest the ills that could be within. The right spirit transforms the right actions. Marriage is one such right action which cries hoarse for the right spirit. Over the years the whole process of making matches in valley has deranged the institution of marriage. Kashmir presents an intrinsically Islamic society and the citizenry has never shied away in showcasing their Islamic ideals. On deeper analysis of the act of choosing matches in Kashmir one could easily conclude that Kashmiri society is everything but Islamic, atleast with regard to marriage. I am not taking delight in critiquing a society of which I am an inherent part but trying to narrate the ordeal that many of my friends, who are academically accomplished, have been through. One of my closest friends who, after doing his PhD went to USA for post-doctoral fellowship. He draws a handsome salary but that he has set to achieve excellence which often involves traveling to the horizon he forgot to secure a government job back home. He wants to get married. Only thing that proves an impediment is a government job that he lacks. A similar but diabolical, is the story of another friend who does research in a leading institute in Germany. He is a born Kashmiri and wants a Kashmiri bride. I don’t see a reason for not wanting this. He went home to see the bride, his parents had chosen. He liked her. Everything was settled on the board but the girl’s parents asked in writing that he must come back and do a job in Kashmir. Not that he was not willing to come back home and work alongside his own folk, he just could not compromise on his principles. Do I need to remind how most of the jobs in Kashmir can be had? I am not reiterating that all recruitments in Kashmir involve compromise of principles but I find little which do not. If landing yourself a government job is the sole criteria for you to get married, which infact in Kashmir it is, then you do a great disservice to the sanctity of marriage. Marriage is the union of two souls, meeting of two complementary beings, unison of different yet so alike physical entities and living together of two persons who derive solace and comfort from each other.
Parents are an important party to marriage and they have every moral right to choose and select a match for their children. However, they ought to take their children in full confidence before deciding on a match. Children are no commodities and marriage is no commerce. As per reports most of the arranged marriages go bitter primarily because parents miserably fail to take their children into confidence and impose their will on children. Imposition is always tantamount to evoking rebellion. Most of the marriageable children think that when parents don’t budge, why shouldwe yield. I don’t subscribe to rebellion on the part of children but I sincerely believe that if both children and parents uphold their Islamic morals and follow Islamic practice in letter and spirit, most of the matches if not all are worth making.
I am well aware of the limited job options as well as the precarious economic conditions prevailing back home. But we should not find escape in acquiring a government job which guarantees you a peaceful life of worklessness. I pity such a life-it may appear to be peaceful, it is not and even if it is, it is definitely not meaningful. I pray to Almighty that better sense prevails on our parents as well as our children and they set to achieve excellence and knowledge rather than being preoccupied with the idea of a government job for marriage. It is high time! (Greater Kashmir)