SRINAGAR: The unbridled extravaganza in Kashmiri weddings may soon be a thing of past, thanks to the J&K government which has imposed several restrictions on mass gathering functions following complaints on "injudicious use of essential commodities".

The order, introduced by the State's Food and Supplies Department, calls to impose several restrictions on the number of guests and the food served to them during social functions and private gatherings, like engagement parties and marriages.

In its directive which will come into effect from April 1, the government has ordered that the number of invitees on the marriage of son should not be more than 500, 400 in case of the marriage of daughter and 100 for engagements, apparently to "control wastage" of food items.

The department has also imposed restriction on the number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to be prepared during such functions to “seven each" and "two stalls of sweets or fruits”.

The traditional "Wazwan" prepared during such functions in Kashmir can have as many as 36 or even more dishes, depending on the financial status of the host. The order is likely to come as a breather for families who are forced to spend lavishly on wedding feasts.

"It is indeed a welcome step and people should follow in letter and spirit. The wastage in food produced during wedding of a rich family can feed a poor man's family for a year," said Ikhlaq Mir, who leads prayers at a Srinagar mosque.

The government has also ordered that the surplus cooked food should be distributed to needy people and “shall not be thrown into dustbins.”

Mr Mir, however, regretted that the order is silent on the type of penalty that will be imposed on those who violate it, "I think there should be heavy penalty on offenders which can become a deterrent. The extravagance in weddings has become a menace in Kashmir," he said.

Of late, there has been a furious debate in Kashmir on the futility of extravagant spending on preparing the traditional feast of 'Wazwan' where there is literally no limit on the number of dishes. In some cases, father of bride is given list of dishes by the groom's side to "impress" the guests.

Although there is a big cloud of ambiguity on how the government intends to impose the new order, it is likely to come as a breather for those disadvantaged families who are forced to spend lavishly on wedding feasts just to keep up with the 'standards of the society'.

"While wedding is supposed to celebrate the coming together of two souls, which can be done in most simple yet beautiful ways, like simply serving tea, we have laced it with so much materialism that it has become a burden. Our religion certainly doesn't allow marriages to become burden for the host," Mr Mir said.

Meanwhile, the government has also banned the use of loudspeakers and fire-crackers in any government or social functions. "There should be a complete ban on sending of dry fruits and sweets with invitations for any such occasions," the order reads.