Missing it for past 6 years, thanks to my studies, I had almost forgotten the taste of wazwan, and I was desperately waiting to end this break. The wait finally ended a few days back when I was invited to my cousin's marriage. The thoughts of old delightful memories wherein I & my tramimates would engage in dog fights for getting the best meat piece, or enthusiastically waiting for gushtaba, and cutting it into four pieces, swirling in my mind.
After a long journey which got more longer as my stomach was anxiously waiting for the wazwan, I was desperately waiting for the trami in the tent. As the marriage attendant entered the tent and spread out the dastarkhan on the carpeted floor of the dining area, my patience was on the threshold. The suspense finally ended when a plate was brought. As it was put down, my ideas about that usual way of having food in a wazwan collapsed. There was no trami, instead, a small copper plate with few dishes on it, not the splendid banquet that usually is served on trami!! I pinched myself thinking maybe it's a dream. Alas! It wasn't. My mouth which I reserved for hours spoke up spontaneously: Brother where is the trami? "Sir, because of the COVID, dinner will be served to all individually," he said with timid expression having read my facial expression. My mind hummed, "COVID that has already made my life miserable with masks, online classes, & social distancing, is now disturbing my stomach too. To hell with you COVID".
Well, things were not in my hand, and I had to accept the fact that I have to further wait for the traditional wazwan to restore my old memories. However, as the function progressed my mind was comparing this style with the old one. My favourite dishes were missing, and the fun of not eating together felt like I am an isolated person being left to eat all dishes without the help of tramimates. Because of this, I was not able to make three friends, and listen to their compelling stories that I would later repeat to my family. Moreover, the single-piece Gushtaba for which our tarmi monitor would even burn his fingers to cut it into 4 pieces was replaced by a tennis ball-sized single piece. It was just like a normal Rista, except in color.
The Other Side
This experience taught me a new lesson. Even though my stomach left unhappy from the function, but my mind was rejuvenated with noble thoughts. As the famous adage goes "every cloud has a silver lining," COVID has been a blessing in disguise when it comes to big fat weddings in Kashmir. Although sermons were given by our esteemed scholars to refrain from spending unnecessarily, however, their teachings were never followed in practice. Thanks to COVID, today most of the marriages are celebrated in a simple style. And many are calling to continue this practice in post-covid period too; which is good. However, we should not forget our culture also. No doubt we should abide by our values of spending less in marriage, but at the same time, we should also follow the brotherhood ethic which enhances through trami style feast. Serving fewer items will save our culture as well as money, while we continue to have wazwan in our traditional way post-covid.
Younis Ahmad Dar works with Greater Kashmir.