Asem Mohiuddin Back
After the insurgency in Kashmir broke out in early 1990’s, the region has been grappling with multiple challenges. The fabric of society has gone into tatters and people who turned overnight affluent literally loathed the centuries old social norms. They started redefining the social fabrics in their own way.
While the new and emerging satellite colonies in the semi urban and urban areas are vindicating the prosperity and progress of Kashmir society, however, behind the scenes the harsh reality is that it is just a particular class which is witnessing the fortunes turning their side.
Needless to say that they evade any accountability to substantiate this economic prosperity though the state enjoys the dubious distinction of being most corrupt state in India.
At the same time their marriages also turned extravaganza affairs and have posed severe challenge for the middle class and lower middle class society.
Quratul Ain, a head of an NGO-AASH-hope of Kashmir came across some people with such stories and struggling to solemnize the marriage of their daughters for lacking any financial support in some remote corners of Budgam.
It was coincidence during her official visit. This young social activist in the first sight had no idea how she can help them since she had no such provisions in her NGO.
“I was bit disturbed after some people in the Khansahib villages approached me and sought some financial support to marry off their daughters.
I had no clue first how to help them. However, I managed some support for them and they finally got married.
The news spread across the villages and I was approached by many more parents who urged me to support them in this cause,” Qurat says.
Back home Qurat started pondering over the issue and got convinced to do something for it. Alone in Srinagar district a local survey reported that 10000 girls had crossed the age of marriage due to poverty.
However, the situation in other districts is alarming also since most of these families fail to meet the finical expenditures to marry off their daughters.
Qurat decided to take the lead and launched the crusade against this menace.
“I met my teammates and we decided to have a mass marriage at Budgam. The registration for the desired couples begun followed by the proper scrutiny. Initially, we had no funds to arrange this mass event.” Qurat smiles.
Quratul Ain dispels the notion that for any good work Kashmir has no philanthropists. “Often we come across questions that how do these events take place and how do we get funding for it,” Qurat explains.
“I have a simple answer for all those who question us, when you are true by heart and truthful to your cause, the support will follow you. There is no dearth of good people in the world and in Kashmir we have lots of such people.”
From a heart throbbing singer Mehmeet Syed to elite wedding brands like Fairdeal, all have come to support Qurat Ul Ain for this mass marriage event.
Kashmir’s reputed makeup artist Sabeena assured to decorate the brides while Mehmeet along with her team sung the best Kashmiri wedding songs all night on the Mehandirat.
“All the wedding dresses for the brides were offered by Fiardeal market in Srinagar. And one of the top hoteliers of Kashmir Asif Burza offered us space for the Khutba, a pre wedding ceremony at one of his hotels.”
Following an overwhelming response to her initiative, Qurat is planning to expand this initiative to other districts of Kashmir.
“I will be shortly holding the same kind of event at Downtown Srinagar. The registration for it has already been started and we receive lots of applications,” she said.
After that we will be reaching people in other districts too.”
While Qurat has no plans to look back and feel positive in moving forward to continue this crusade against the social challenge, she seems a bit aghast for some people who criticize such positive initiatives launched by women.
She believes Kashmir is still a patriarchy society and woman is facing lots of challenges.
“Our counterparts do not accept us at par and they treat us still a weaker gender. This is a challenge that we face on everyday basis and many a times we feel dejected. But looking back is not an option and we need to crave space for ourselves.” She signs off.