“Whenever I was asked by my friends that is Kashmir really not safe for people who visit there? Every time I used to answer them ‘agar aisa hota to mai abi tak mar gaya hota’ (If it were like that, I would have died then),” says Jatinder Pal Singh, a resident of Tral village in Kashmir.
Jatinder and his fiance, Vipeen Kaur, also from Tral, have taken the noteworthy decision of opening their wedding to everybody – literally. Jatinder posted the wedding invitation on Facebook, issued to the public, and invited anyone who could come, adding that lodging and boarding would be covered by the couple. The post can be read here:
AN OPEN INVITATION!I am getting MARRIED on 1st, October, 2017. Wedding is planned at a beautiful picturesque village…
A Kashmiri Sikh
Jatinder is a Kashmiri Sikh and a software engineer who hails from a village in Kashmir named Tral, which is almost 45 km from Srinagar. He is a promoter with a startup and also a coordinator for the charitable international NGO United Sikhs, which remains on the forefront during disasters. In September 2014, when Kashmir was submerged in floodwater, Jatinder collected a sum of more than Rs 4 lakh single-handedly, before the NGO allied to push almost half a crore to help the flood hit people.
Jatinder says, “I belong to a family where all are professors, teachers and lecturers. I love Kashmir; my heart is there only. I have spent most of my years in Kashmir, I speak the Kashmiri language and I literally love it.”
His love for peace and dedication have made him quite popular among people in the Kashmir Valley. His wedding invitation went forth to not only everyone in his friend list but to anyone who could attend, known and unknown.
With the aim of bringing people to Kashmir
The great Persian poet Amir Khusru had rightly said the following beautiful lines about Kashmir: “Agar firdous baroye zammen ast, hameen asto, hameen asto, hameen ast,” (If there is paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this). Since last year, however, with growing instability, Kashmir has been losing sheen as an attractive tourist destination.
Jatinder wants to host as many people as he can during his wedding. It is his small way to change the image of Kashmir.
He said, “My Idea is to bring people who love Kashmir and want to visit here together for an all-paid stay which will be more like a destination wedding,” adding that many people are fearful and feel very reluctant of visiting Kashmir, which is certainly affected by the detrimental reports in the media. “I want people to know that there is nothing like that in Kashmir; Kashmir and its culture are incredibly beautiful.”
He said that the Kashmiri Sikh wedding rituals are quaint and different from Punjabi Sikh weddings. “Whenever I used to talk about Kashmir and particularly my village with my friends, from different backgrounds and religions, they used to reply with the words, ‘Phir teri shaadi pe zarur aayenge,’ (Then we will definitely come to your wedding),” he chuckled.
On being asked about whether their parents are happy with the decision, Jatinder said, “My fiance, Vipeen Kaur, and I could have had the safest wedding in Delhi, but I insisted that I want to marry the girl I love in the place we both love – she is working in Delhi but she too is from Tral. Our families are more than happy with the decision.”
This energetic individual’s small effort to encourage people to visit Kashmir, to bring them little closer to nature and snow-clad mountains and the Valley and with each other, is indeed laudable. It is an exemplary effort to bring back smiles on faces of people of the Kashmir Valley.