Low budget marriages popular among JK Gujjars

Low budget marriages popular among JK Gujjars

In this budget they organise all social rituals and host three dinners or lunch for relatives and friends on the occasion of Teel, Nehari and Meeal–the main rites of tribal marriage.

At a time when expenditure on marriage ceremonies has touched back-breaking levels in the state, there are some communities that continue to keep tab on spending and elicit more gaiety from the wedding functions.

About 88 percent nomad Gujjars-Bakerwals of Jammu and Kashmir spend up to Rs 50,000 on a marriage ceremony, revealed a new study conducted by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation (TRCF)- an organisation of the communities.

In this budget they organise all social rituals and host three dinners or lunch for relatives and friends on the occasion of Teel, Nehari and Meeal–the main rites of tribal marriage, the study said.

The other 12 percent nomads spend up to Rs 1 lakh on a wedding and they call it as a Bado Biya- the grand marriage.

The TRCF, while releasing the gist of the study, stated that total 100 nomads comprising of Banhara and Bakerwal-Gujjar families residing in different parts of the state were sampled to prepare the data which is highly surprising in many ways.

The study reveals that in the Rs 50,000-marriage budget, they spend Rs 10,000 to purchase new clothes, footwear and ornaments/jewelry mainly made of silver or gold. They arrange three dinners in Rs 30,000. In Banhara Gujjars’ marriage, they cook rice and serve the same with ghee and Shakar (a type of sugar).

A dowry of Rs 5000 to the bride includes a box, light bedding, a few kitchen utensils and other essentials of tribal migrations, the study said.

They fix just Rs 5000 to 10,000 as “Mehar”- which is a religious binding and give gifts like buffalos, cows, sheep, goats or a camel to the bride on her entry to groom’s house, revealed the study.

The Gujjars constitute 20 percent of the 1.25 crore population of the State and around 40 percent of Gujjar-Bakerwals practice nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life.

About 78 percent Gujjars oppose “Kharchi” system, popular among some nomads wherein the groom’s family pays full costs of wedding spent by bride’s family, by terming it un-Islamic, the study informed.

About 5 to 10 percent marriages among Gujjars are arranged in hurry by ‘Kadho’ or ‘Adhaloo’ in Gojri wherein a choice girl (unmarried) or woman (married) is ‘abducted’ with her consent for marriage, the study said, adding, about 42 percent Gujjars favour ‘Kadho’, considering it a matter of heroism and valour to marry a choice woman. However, 39 percent said it is anti-social while the rest preferred silence over the issue.

On polygamy, 62 percent nomads favoured marrying to two women to generate human resources to run daily tribal affairs while as around 18 percent supported marrying three to six or more women, the study added.

About 89 percent Gujjars arrange first marriage of their children at the age of 14 to 18. Around 72 percent girls got engaged to boys in relation at the time of birth or at the age of 6, the study said.

In 91 percent Gujjar weddings, around 200 to 300 guests were invited. The interference of “Muqadam”–the tribal headman in Gujjar marriages has declined by 71 percent and the crimes related to marriage issues have gone down during last 30 years by 82 percent. No one among nomad Gujjars is allowed to remain unmarried for whole life, the study added.