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Back to Simple & Waste Free Weddings

Educated & well off families have to take a lead to guide the society
07:06 AM Jun 29, 2024 IST | Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
back to simple   waste free weddings

During our wedding season (May to October) an average 1500-2000 marriage functions are held daily in Kashmir valley. This is my own estimation after consulting various stakeholders. On an average150 - 200 kgs mutton is used to make wazwan at each marriage function. This means 4 lakh Kgs of mutton is used daily during marriage functions.


Had Kashmiri people not been carrying the leftover wazwan dishes with them, we would have been wasting at least 50% of the food (wazwan dishes). This means 2 lakh kgs of mutton every day would have been wasted. I wish we had reduced the use of such a huge quantity of mutton & opted for simple and sustainable weddings.


I know many families where even 10 to 12 quintals of mutton is used in marriage functions plus 200 to 300 kgs chicken with average 3 to 4 kgs mutton served on a single Trami which is a large copper plate used to serve food to four people.


On the contrary, I know many well off and educated families who are fed up with extravagance in their marriages and they are shifting to simple and sustainable weddings. At a time when we save a lot of food from getting wasted during our marriage functions by carrying the leftover mutton dishes we also generate a lot of plastic waste as well which is a matter of serious concern.


In a place like Kashmir valley which is ecologically fragile we cannot afford to do this. We live in a valley where we don’t have enough space to create landfill sites to dump the waste. Thus the only solution is to reduce the waste.


Sustainable weddings


Sustainable or Green Weddings is a new trend nowadays especially among the educated class of society. This great shift shows love and care of educated & environmentally conscious people. Managing waste isn’t a big challenge in plains of India like UP, MP , Rajasthan or Maharashtra where there is enough land available to create scientific landfill sites.


In a place like Kashmir valley or hill states like Himachal or Uttrakhand managing waste is a demanding task. In such a situation people of Kashmir should be more conscious about waste and its safe disposal. We cannot afford to generate huge plastic waste which will finally get dumped in our streams , rivers , wetlands and forests.

Shifting towards eco-friendly weddings will help build co-consciousness among people. Many wedding & event management companies in different Indian cities say the popularity of green weddings is gaining momentum among educated people.

It is not just a craze but a deliberate attempt to protect our surroundings like water bodies, forests, lakes, open spaces and forests. I, along with a team of activists, have decided to create awareness on sustainable weddings and we will try our best to give people solutions as well. This article is aimed towards that and I am sure people will adopt sustainable practices during their weddings.

What can be done ?

Kashmiri marriage functions are incomplete if we don’t use items made of non- biodegradable material. Even the ceremonial Dastarkhan (dining sheet) which used to be essentially made of cloth has also been replaced with plastic material. Can’t we again make use of white cloth as Dastarkhan. The yogurt that used to be served in clay vessels 15 to 20 years back has been replaced by plastic curd bowls. One clay vessel with half litre of curd can replace these plastic curd bowls.

The use of plastic glasses and packed water bottles can be replaced by reusable glass, copper or steel glasses. In addition to it two to three filtered water cans can be made available in the hall / tent to serve the water. The most dangerous among all these items is the thick plastic pouch bag with aluminium coating used to pack the leftover mutton dishes. This item takes at least 1000 years to degrade. This is the most harmful thing used in our weddings & the hot wazwan dish placed in this bag makes it more dangerous.

This article can be replaced with a thick butter paper bag and the same can be placed in a thin cardboard type carry bag which is already available in the basket served during the wazwan feast. The only thing is that we have to handle the butter paper with care and allow the dishes to cool down on a plate (trami).

Only cotton towels should be served during the weddings and let us avoid using wet tissues etc because its packaging is a highly non biodegradable item and one has to struggle a lot to open it as well. To clean hands let the wet soap and hot water be used instead like it was done in the past.The small hand towels made from plastic material, chocolates, chewing gums, wet tissues etc supplied to guests during weddings must be avoided.


30 years back we hardly used plastic material in our marriage functions. There were no disposable items at all. Let us shift back to those sustainable traditions. Can’t we take measures to reduce usage of non-biodegradable items in our marriages and above all serve limited mutton dishes? Educated and well to do families have to take a lead in this direction to guide the society.

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow. He is Founder / Chairman J&K RTI Movement and Anant Fellow for Climate Action