Tuesday, September 17th 2019
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Lockdown in Kashmir costing chefs a year’s worth pay

August 20, 2019

Lockdown in Kashmir costing chefs a year’s worth pay

Jammu: “Due to [the] prevailing situation in Kashmir, the invitation for [the] marriage ceremony of my nephews Jan Mohammad Sofi and Wasim Ahmad Sofi, which was scheduled on August 24 and 25 is cancelled. However, [the] Nikkah ceremony will be held with simplicity. Inconvenience to guests is regretted,” read a notice published in a local daily by Habibullah Sofi of Alamdar Colony, Nowpora.

Another one by Mohammad Yousuf Bazaz, a resident of Chinar Gulab Bagh in Srinagar, read, “Due to [the] prevailing situation in Kashmir, the invitation for [the] marriage ceremony of my sons which was scheduled on August 20, 21, and 22 is cancelled. However, [the] Nikkah ceremony will be held with simplicity.”

Local dailies in Kashmir are splashed with notices of cancelled weddings informing guests not to come for feasts as the ceremonies would be held in an austere manner. Weddings in the Kashmir valley are an elaborate affair with extravagant feasts prepared for days. Chefs, who are locally known as Wazas, have a limited season of three months between July and September when maximum weddings take place. However, this year, scores of weddings have either been postponed or the Nikkah ceremonies are being held without the usual frills associated with such ceremonies. Local dailies in Kashmir are splashed with notices of cancelled weddings informing guests not to come for feasts as the ceremonies would be held in an austere manner. Weddings in the Kashmir valley are an elaborate affair with extravagant feasts prepared for days. Chefs, who are locally known as Wazas, have a limited season of three months between July and September when maximum weddings take place. However, this year, scores of weddings have either been postponed or the Nikkah ceremonies are being held without the usual frills associated with such ceremonies.

The Valley is under lockdown since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A by the Centre on August 5 and the curfew has created numerous problems for the people in the industry. The change in plans has caused a series of cancellations of orders for chefs, butchers and sweet-meat makers.

Mohammad Subhan, 55, a chef from Srinagar, had received orders for cooking Wazwan (a multi-course meal cooked on special occasions in Kashmir) for nine scheduled weddings in August. However, the orders were cancelled in view of the prevailing situation in Kashmir.

He would have charged about Rs 40,000-60,000 for each order that he had received. He had hired 15 people to help him with Wazwan, and had even given an advance for the month of August and September to the workers. While the orders stand cancelled, Subhan is in distress these days owing to the heavy losses he had to sustain.

Another chef Ghulam Rasool said they were fully booked till September, but people are postponing weddings or holding them in an austere manner without Wazwan. He said that they generate a lot of revenue during the wedding season, however, the current situation has badly hit the business.

Bashir Ahmad, a businessman who deals with garments and cosmetics, said over 80% of his business takes place between July to September. He added that his shops have been completely shut for the last two weeks.

“People are mentally disturbed, weddings are being cancelled, the traders are not importing goods for ceremonies owing to the lockdown,” he stated.

Mohammad Abdullah, whose only son was scheduled to get married next week, said nobody would cook Wazwan for weddings in Kashmir under the present circumstances.

A businessman by profession, Abdullah had decided to prepare six quintals of meat for his son’s weddings, but the plan was cancelled as there were increasing concerns about the safety of guests amid the strict restrictions.

Abdullah, a resident of Soura in Srinagar, is worried about reaching the bride’s home at Bemina, which is less than 10 kilometres away.

Only four people will accompany the groom for the wedding party, he said.

He added that they are worried that incidents of stone-pelting or checks by the security forces would affect the procession and permission from the authorities before heading towards the bride’s home might be required.

Not just weddings, even the recently concluded Eid al-Adha was celebrated with simplicity. Unlike the previous years, there was very less demand for animals and only a few bakeries or sweet-meat shops were open.

On average, the dealers used to import over four lakh animals on Eid. However, according to government sources, only 2.5 lakh animals were imported to the Valley this year.