CHITRAL, July 3: Marriages have become a costly affair for an ordinary family in Chitral as it involves exorbitant expenditure both on the part of bride and groom’s family.
The recently organized mass wedding ceremony in Madaklasht village by the Shia Imami Ismaili Regional Council for lower Chitral in collaboration with the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board, Madaklasht Local Support Organization with personal interest of Dr Mir Afzal Tajik, former president the Shia Imami Ismaili Regional Council for lower Chitral and currently director outreach Aga Khan University Karachi, was a great solace for people who cannot afford marriage of their children owing to poverty.
The real source behind the introduction of mass wedding concept in this far-flung village of Chitral is former president of the Shia Imami Ismaili Local Council, Madaklasht, and a young graduate of Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development, Mr Sher Azim.
Talking to ChitralToday, Mr Azim said it was through his initiatives that the concept of mass wedding ceremony was introduced in the village. He said initially he faced tremendous challenges as the villagers were not ready to adopt this idea at. Hut he set an example for the village by marrying off his own younger brother in the first ever ceremony held in the village.
“Gradually the people of the area have realized the benefits of this tradition and so far we have organized nine such events in which more than 150 couples tied the knots.” He said the first ceremony was held in 2007 and Ismaili Council, Aga khan Social Welfare Board for Lower Chitral and LSO Madaklasht played an instrumental role in making the successive events a success.
He said the contribution of Dr Tajik cannot be ignored because without his help we could not have been able to arrange such a programme. He helps us in terms of gifts, jewelleries and cash. Mr Sher Azim further said that this year the total expenditure of the event was 140,000 rupees and 4,000 were collected from each couple as the registration fee and the rest of the amount came from the contributions of LSO, Madaklasht and Dr Tajik.
He said the same amount of 4,000 was given back to each couple apart from jewellery and other gifts. This year, the grand ceremony was held at Central Jamat Khana, Madaklasht in which 24 couples tied the knot. Mr Sher Nawaz, the chaiman Ismaili Tariqa and Religious Education Board for Lower Chitral, was the chief guest and Mr Muhammad Afzal, president the Shia Imami Ismaili Regional Council for Lower Chitral, presided over the ceremony. The couples were married in the presence of a big gathering including the parents, relatives of couples and large number of other people. The concept of mass wedding ceremony is the actual roadmap which not only helps the destitute and impoverished families in getting respectable place at the social fabric but also supports in translating the longing of financially down-trodden people into reality.
Mass wedding ceremonies are economically viable and boon for those who can hardly make their both ends meet, bear domestic expenses and unable to afford the expensive event of wedding. The vision of Mass Wedding also addresses the throes and travails of poor families by protecting them from the menace of extravagance, hefty dowry payments and lavish wedding celebrations under social pressure and taboos.