Living In An Era of Late Marriages: A Concern In a Conflict
Marriage is a bond between two souls. It also forms the bridge of love, understanding and mutual respect between two families. Marriage is an institution that is in favor of every intelligent being but when the society norms get intermingled, it becomes a curse. Looking at the current scenario regarding marriages in Kashmir, late marriage has gained a lot of ground here in recent times. There is a wide spectrum of reasons for late marriages in Kashmir but the predominant reasons are dowry, unemployment and costly customs. It has been observed that earlier the age of marriage used to be less for both boys and girls, usually their early teens, which in present times has seen a drastic change with people getting married in their late 20’s and early 30’s. And in some cases even early 40’s owing to different reasons, some of which are mentioned above. The actual age of marriage in Kashmir has risen to 31 years in male and 27 in female category respectively. The desirable age of marriage in Kashmir used to be 23 in male and 20 years in female . The unmarried population is at 55% numbering 8,97,289 in the age bracket of 20-35 based on census data of 30 years. This percentage is significantly higher than the national average of 49%. Single men (54.7% of the total population) outnumber unwed women (45.12%) . Dowry has always been a social evil. It has always been a menacing burden for the girl’s parents. A rich parent can easily give away the luxury or costlier possessions to the groom’s family whereas the poor parents suffer. A father wants to see his daughter the happiest but his financial conditions usually doesn’t suffice. Still parents try their best to keep their child happy and see them thrive in every walk of life. Sometimes the family mortgages their small possessions like piece of land, gold or house giving away everything that they worked so hard to earn. We should always strengthen the beautiful institution of marriage particularly the marriage of girls. We can do it by helping them financially or as the situation demands, whatsoever possible. Unemployment is also a big cause for late marriages. It influences marriages badly. Every person wants to live a happy life which isn’t possible to a major extent without money. To earn ones living, a person should have a means of livelihood. So, employment becomes the first priority for a man if he is to get married. In today’s era, parents prefer an employed spouse for their daughters. Further, many parents look for a working woman for their boy. Since, the number of jobs, be it public or private sector, are few in the valley and it isn’t possible for everyone in the working age to get a decent healthy paying job. In such circumstances, people wait for a long time till they find a job and in the process they evidently get married late. Last but not the least in recent times, planning a marriage of a person in the valley has become an expensive affair. The stigma associated with not having lavish ceremony has become difficult for parents to get away with unnecessary and unwarranted expenses have made the ceremony of marriage a burden for all. To get over this grave issue, we should take collective measures to overcome this curse. Anti-dowry laws are in place. The only thing needed in this direction is their proper implementation. Further, society has to come forward as a collective whole to tackle this menace. Affluent families should help the poor and pursue the arrangement of marriages in a simple, profitable and blessed way. There are many NGO’s in place that help poor girls get married. In a recent initiative taken by the Jaffari Council of J&K in collaboration with other humanitarian groups, 105 couples got married in a collective wedding reducing flamboyance in the society by keeping this programme simple, efficient and easy. A renowned historian and social activist, Zarief Ahmad Zarief, said, “Mass weddings are the first step towards awakening of the youth. It should be replicated in every mohalla and masjid. Our society has reached a point where our brides and grooms are crossing 40 years of age because we have burdened our marriages with heavy customs”. We should follow the teachings of our blessed Prophet (PBUH) who said, “The most blessed Nikah is the one with the least expenses”. We should try to follow the same and keep our marriages as simple as possible.
Article by: Mohsin Gull (IMBA student at IUST)
 Hilal Ahmad Bhat, Late marriage among muslims of J&K with special reference to district Anantnag: A sociological study, International Journal of Advanced research and Publications.
 Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir.