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Kashmir sees blasts of a different kind

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
September 19, 2005 13:57 IST
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Marriages in Kashmir are again being celebrated with a bang as firecrackers have returned to heighten the festivities.

As sounds of cracker bursts alerted the security pickets around the Rajbagh locality in Srinagar, frantic enquiries on the wireless revealed that the reverberations were joyous and harmless as they came not from the automatic weapons but from fire crackers let off in abundance by locals to announce the arrival of Baraat. Firecrackers have returned to Kashmir this marriage season after nearly 16 years.

"We now can take the liberty to burst fire crackers in joy and we are making up for the lost time. We are happy that such practices that mark celebrations and festivities are returning. It is because of the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan," said Nazir Ahmad busy in the marriage ceremony of his daughter.

Autumn is the peak marriage season in Kashmir and nuptial knots are being tied across the valley. In the countryside, traditionally the marriage season coincides with the harvest of the rice crop that is at peak these days.

Autumn this year has returned to the locals the merriment of bursting firecrackers, but it has also brought in additional problems for the police and security forces.

The crackers boom generally late in the evenings and officials say the improving law and order situation in Srinagar has also extended the deadline for marriage parties to well around midnight this season. During the last decade and so marriages in Kashmir had to be a very subdued and quick affair.

With this change, the wedding celebrations have started regaining their past resplendence and festive looks.

Marriages in Kashmir have always meant a bonanza for the local chefs called the 'wazas' who specialise in preparing the traditional Kashmiri cuisine called the 'Wazwan'.

The traditional 'Wan Wun' (Singing of welcome songs by women)  is back with gusto. The late arrival of groom's party has also been facilitated by late night movement of the people.

Like their predecessors Border Security Force, the newly inducted paramilitary central reserve police force which took the security control of the summer capital Srinagar last week is also lenient with the late night movement of people in the urban areas during this peak marriage month.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar