The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Weddings still hostage to quake
- A year on, few couples tie knot

Uri/Tanghdar, Oct. 6: When Ishtiyaq Ahmad’s marriage was solemnised in an Uri village last year, it was the first after the devastating quake had struck this place. Forgetting pain, the village had found a reason to celebrate in his marriage and it had given hope to many who had planned marriages in their families.

The fallout of the quake nearly silenced the wedding bells here. Ahmad’s celebrations also did not last long.

Left to grapple with heavy odds, most prospective grooms here had to postpone their marriages that were planned last year for November and December — the peak marriage season. This year, too, there were very few marriages.

“Ours was a cross-LoC marriage and the family of my bride Shabia had come here in the peace bus, only 16 days before the quake,” said Ahmad of Garkoot village. “Three weeks after the quake, we got married. But since they (the bride and her family) had overstayed here, the government asked them to return.”

Later, the family applied for a visa in Muzaffarabad, but is still waiting for the clearance.

Many of the other would-be grooms and brides had equally nothing to cheer about. With no houses and money, their marriages could not be solemnised.

The engagement ceremonies of Javed Ahmad Jaguar and his sister Mehmooda of Jabdi village took place three years ago. “Our father had planned to marry us both in 2004 but his sudden death put our marriages on hold,” Jaguar said. “The next year, there was earthquake and we could not marry. This time, we are living in a tin-shed and we have no money.”

Jaguar had already made preparations for the marriages before the quake. “But everything was lost in the quake,” he said.

In Teetwal village in Tanghdar, with a population of 2,200, there was only one marriage in the last one year. “During the peak marriage season, we had seven to eight weddings taking place here every month before the quake,” said Raja Ghulam Haider, Teetwal’s naib sarpanch. “In the last one year, only one youth, Nassem Khan, could marry.”

Tanghdar educationist Qazi Abdul Hameed said this is the story of every village here. “This year, there were only few marriages here. The primary concern of people here was shelter and livelihood,” he said. “Both marriages and search for fresh alliances took a backseat.”

Mohammad Nayeem, an imam of Kandi Barjala village, said some families were not much affected by the quake. “Marriages in several well-off families or some others who received assistance did not suffer. Even some affected families went ahead with their plans,” he said.

“But most of the marriages this time were simple. Most of them were held in open space and just one or two dishes were served.”

Nayeem said he performed nikaah khwani of four couples. “In the year before the quake, the number was 20,” the imam said.

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