A Kashmiri shopkeeper displays a wedding dress at a market. File photo/AFP
After a year-long countdown, Arshi Nisar's wedding plans are in tatters, with the Kashmiri bride-to-be fearing for her guests' safety as an Indian security and communications clampdown on the Himalayan valley leaves residents on edge.
Like thousands of families in the troubled region, Nisar has resigned herself to an austere event, with no more than 40 guests in attendance — if they are able to venture out of their homes.
"I grew up dreaming about a grand wedding but there is not much to celebrate because of the situation," he said.
"Now we have decided on a very simple ceremony but I am still worried (about) how my in-laws and my family will move around in these tense times."
India's decision in early August to scrap Kashmir's autonomy and impose a ban on phone and internet communications has left the region reeling, cutting off its eight-million-strong population from the outside world.
Authorities have eased the security restrictions in parts of the valley but tensions still run high amid a complete shutdown of businesses, public transport and educational institutions.
Government forces use steel barricades and coils of barbed wire to block roads while protesters stop private vehicles from using the roads, forcing many to remain at home.
In a status-conscious society famed for its hospitality, weddings have long served as a showcase for wealth and generosity, with guest lists regularly topping 1,500 and costs running upwards of $30,000.
"Families save for years or decades to splurge on weddings," Bilal, who wanted to be identified only by his first name, said.
Parents start preparing for their child's marriage almost immediately after birth, he said.
So when only 15 percent of the invited guests turned up for his brother's wedding this month, "it was a heartbreak for the family," he said.
For others consumed by wedding preparations, the communications clampdown has made it near impossible to contact suppliers and event managers.
"Weddings are a once in a lifetime event," he said.
"As a brother I feel gutted by the thought that her wedding is devoid of the traditional colour."
In Indian-controlled Kashmir, the coronavirus pandemic within months has changed an elaborate and lavish marriage tradition that had remained virtually unaltered for centuries.
S. Aravind alias Dinesh, who is a private sector employee, was first married to Priyadarshini in 2016 but soon after the wedding, he started ill treating her. In April 2019, concealing his first marriage, Dinesh married Anupriya, a divorcee with a two-year-old son.
Pakistan’s president has called on India to immediately lift all restrictions on people in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, ignoring opposition calls for Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down over his alleged bad governance.
The fighting in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia or lack of Ukrainian cereal exports have not affected orange juice, whose prices have spiralled by 30 per cent since the start of the year, the report in the French newspaper says.
Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, WHO deplored that 3.2 million hectares of fertile land across 124 countries are being used to grow deadly tobacco – even in places where people are starving.
I don’t own an ice-cream maker, as I have no space in my kitchen to store one,” admits Maunika Gowardhan, author of Tandoori Home Cooking.