“It’ looks so cheap and we’re not doing it”, announced the lady of the house, while reacting to the idea of offering carry bags to the guests accompanying the bridegroom. Believe, this is one new trend in our part of the world that has taken over our wedding season. I happened to attend a few big fat weddings (that’s what most of our weddings have turned into) quite recently and I couldn’t resist myself the temptation of highlighting a few things that are discussed at almost every wedding function in Kashmir but somehow we end up doing nothing with regard to the same. Infact this issue gets brushed under the carpet almost around the same time.
Showing off or spending extravagantly, without any sense is the new norm in our society wherein we are already facing the menaces of unemployment, late marriages, drug abuse, hunger and so on. Forgive me for being rude but we don’t even behave like animals (for they too follow their set rules and guidelines ) when abnormally huge quantities of food are served to us at various functions during our wedding ceremonies. Order of the day is to pile up the serving dish – more the number of dishes and larger the size, higher the so called social status tends to get and such is the mad rat race that nobody wants to be left behind.
The quantity of food that is served at our weddings is simply appalling and to make things worse we take pride in wasting food. Some years back one good addition to our not so ethnic Wazwan was the introduction of carry bags – you eat some and you carry a portion home. By the way, this carry bag thing has become a bone of contention for many or should I put it more bluntly – a mark of indecency, to certain elite circles (as if wasting food was the most decent and noblest of deeds on planet earth). As a matter of fact, even in functions where enormous amounts of mutton and chicken are cooked and carry bags are also offered to guests, has anyone amongst us ever thought of the quantity of rice that gets wasted and how many people could possibly be fed with those enormous quantities of grain. Further more, I am not going to talk about the damage done and pollution caused by the so called modern disposable crockery items to our health and environment in this write up. We are least bothered about that.
In a world that grows enough food to feed everyone, it seems perverse that hundreds of millions across the globe still suffer from chronic hunger. Countries like Syria, Yemen etc caught in the throes of a civil war are facing catastrophic famine, hitting millions of people. We need not look that far because situation in Kashmir too is not that rosy either. There are so many cases of families having lost their bread winners, struggle for a decent square meal. Children especially orphans and widows are the worst sufferers. Irony doesn’t quite describe the situation where, in a world that grows enough food to feed everyone, one in nine persons suffers from chronic hunger, as per a 2017 UN report. Do we even have an idea about how many million people are suffering from chronic undernourishment especially those living in countries affected by conflict. Unbelievable but true that hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined together. Such has been the change in circumstances around the world that, after a period of decline, chronic hunger and malnutrition have been on the rise again. Violent conflict, climate change and rising economic and gender inequality have all contributed to adverse food security, threatening to undo decades of gain.
One of the easiest things most of us can do is to help reduce food wastage by doing our bit. No faith or basic human values allow wastage of any kind. Extravagance and show-off are traps our society needs to come out of. We would be doing ourselves and fellow humans a big favor by acting moderate in our dealings and it’s time we get our act together and take a stance. Further, the need of the hour is to introduce the concept of FOOD BANKS that would not only help reduce food wastage but also go a long way in feeding the poor, hungry and less fortunate. Just imagine, how much of a difference that would make to the world around us. Lastly, it’s time to let go of some of the not so good traditions and customs and move on to something better. Let’s understand that someone is dying for the food, we are throwing away…..Think before you waste food again!
(Ifthikar Bashir is a freelance Financial Advisor)