By B L Saraf
In Jammu, marriage season is in full bloom. And, we the residents are going through hell. Yes, some may see incongruity writ large when words like ‘marriage ‘ and ‘ hell ‘are put in a sequential vein in one statement. Particularly so, when it is said “Marriages are arranged in Heaven and solemnized on Earth.” However, as we go through the situation the distasteful texture of the statement stands fully condoned. Even Alexandra Dumas’s famous words seem to suggest so: “The chains of marriage are so heavy that it takes two to bear them, and sometimes three.” Experiencing the ordeal of attending the ceremony, one may say that the whole society is burdened to bear the weight of marriage, no matter who is the host.
Marriage, as we understand, is as much a union of two persons in the spiritual terms as it is a legal one in the mundane view. Traditionally, accent is on the spiritual aspect, though not undermining the other.To emphasize the former and keeping in view the traditional sanctity marriage ceremony would, generally, take place in bride’s home, in an atmosphere appropriate to the solemn occasion . ‘Dwaar Puja ‘ at the entry point of bride’s parental home would open up the detailed ritualistic performance, held inside, which is integral to the tradition and custom. The ceremony concludes with the affectionate good bye to the newlyweds, there from, for a journey to the home of the groom, for their long and prosperous life.
But now, for variety of reasons, the practice has become a thing of past. Everybody rushes to a marriage hall for the purpose – some to save the house from ‘ benign influence of the scriptures ‘(an out dated practice), some to register a ‘statement of prosperity and opulence ‘and some do it driven by envy. Hunt for a suitable venue starts years before the auspicious date. None feels the qualms to adjust the ‘auspicious ‘ date so as to make it dependent upon the availability of a suitable Marriage Hall . No wonder we have these banquets and resorts prospering by leaps and bounds, across the Jammu city.
Well, normally it should be nobody’s business to question the business of a Marriage hall owner. But when these halls pose serious traffic, environmental and psychological hazards to the society at large – as most of them do so in Jammu city- it becomes every one’s duty to raise questions about the presence of these Halls, at some places. How rightly said “your right to earn money ends where it impinges upon my basic human rights.”
It is a tragedy that most of these halls and resorts are located on the edges of busy roads and in residential colonies, without a provision for an adequate vehicle parking. They cause traffic congestion which has taken an endemic turn. Just a casual look at the roadside from the canal head to Akhnoor would reveal the truth. We witness a naked dance of decadence when the traffic jams created by these hall do not allow even a dying person to reach the hospital in time to get some more days to live because the Ambulance carrying him has no way to move ahead. It is altogether a new world for an ubiquitous VIP. No sooner his hooter blurs up the traffic managers- nowhere seen till then – suddenly spring in action to give a way to the VIP. Hell with the Ambulance and the dying one in it!
Then, the music blurs out at a high pitch for the whole night, with no respite to the student community, the aged, the infirm and the ailing. It is accompanied by a deafening noise and suffocating smog, coming out of the fire crackers bursting in such huge volume, to give a feeling that we are celebrating Diwali, Eid and Christmas, same day same time.
It is nuisance, in all forms, all the way. Who cares? No wonder! As a society we have become slaves of addiction and prisoners of envy.
Most of these Halls are constructed in gross violation of the Municipal and Town planning Rules. What compounds our misfortune is the fact that they are built under the nose of those very public officers and political bosses who are supposed to take care of the Rules and Regulations.
But experiencing what it means to solemnize marriage on the ground and be part of it we can easily substitute Hell, for the Earth, to give a literal meaning to the proverb. Attending marriage is supposed to be a joyous and a life time experience. But what we see today it has become an ordeal. The moment one receives a marriage invitation card, instead of getting a joyous feeling, a sense of entering a battlefield sets in. Battle to reach in time to the venue ; battle to avoid jostling in order to save poise and a gentlemanly demeanor in maddening crowd, which is otherwise expected to be in a decent order, ready to receive the groom . The scene is so chaotic that literally Hell gets broken.
Previous year, we had the hint that government was showing some concern to address the problem, though from a different angle, when Minister of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, J & K Government informed the media that ” on taking cognizance of complaints of the public Government has issued a Guest Control order to impose restrictions on the injudicious use of essential commodities during social, Government and private functions and a complete ban on the use of amplifiers, loud speakers and fire crackers on such occasions.”
As discussed earlier through these columns, it will indeed take a Herculean effort to implement the proposed order. But honest enforcement of Municipal and Traffic laws will certainly relieve beleaguered populace from the unbearable distress.
(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- firstname.lastname@example.org )