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Embracing Tradition : Kashmiri Pandits and Bollywood Celebrities

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Bollywood celebrities are now choosing to get married in secrecy. Many of them have in the recent past, opted for hushed ceremonies, where details of the wedding were released to the public only a few days before the big day. Many even went to the extent of complete secrecy and released pictures only after the ceremony had taken place. The Virat Kohli – Anushka Sharma wedding had happened this way, though fans had got an inkling about the same few days prior to the wedding. One actress who managed to get married without even a single rumor was Yami Gautam. She got married to director Aditya Dhar earlier this year, who is a director. His directorial debut was Uri: The Surgical Strike, starring Vicky Kaushal, and Yami Gautam. The movie was both a critical and commercial success and smashed the box office. It was during the promotions of the film that Yami and Aditya began spending more time together, and gradually fell in love. However, they managed to keep their relationship very private, as nobody came to know about the relationship. They tied the knot on 4th June, and this was revealed by an Instagram post shared by both Gautam and Dhar.

Yami Gautam, who herself is from the Garhwal region, opted for a simple and traditional wedding. Aditya Dhar on the other hand is a Kashmiri pandit. After the wedding, Yami opted for a heavy bridal look, with sindoor, red saree, jewelry, etc. However, what caught the eye of the public was an earring extension of gold, with a hexagonal structure at the bottom, that Yami had begun wearing after her wedding. This is actually a traditional Kashmiri piece of jewelry known as the dejhoor. It is customary for Kashmiri Hindu brides to wear a dejhoor after marriage, and it forms an important part of the cultural identity of the community. Yami’s decision to don the dejhoor is a bold one. However, she has made the traditional look funky, as she has paired this with Indian as well as western outfits. She can be seen wearing them in the advertisements that were shot after her wedding, in promotional events for her movie Bhoot Police, and in many of her Instagram photos. Her decision to continue, and also popularise this tradition, though, has brought both criticism and praise. While certain people critiqued her heavy bridal look by saying that she was bending to the oppressive and patriarchal norms of the society, yet another section of the population applauded her for being unabashed in expressing her tradition along with that of her husband, especially as the latter is a sensitive issue for Indian people.

Actress Angira Dhar, who is also a Kashmiri Pandit, got married to actor and director Anand Tiwari, who had last donned the director’s hat for the web series Bandish Bandits. She too, has been seen sporting the traditional Kashmiri dejhoor on several occasions. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Soha Ali Khan, who is married to actor Kunal Khemu, another Kashmiri pandit. While she has not been seen wearing traditional Kashmiri attire, she has been seen celebrating Shivaratri, one of the major Kashmiri Hindu festivals with great pomp and joy. She has even wished everyone “Herath Mubarak”, which is the traditional Kashmiri greeting for the same.

This assertion of Kashmiri identity comes along with one of the first movies to deal with the exodus of Kashmiri pandits in recent years – Shikara. Though the movie in itself did not gain much traction, despite some great performances, the movie, accompanied with such cultural assertions has allowed a new dialogue and awareness to emerge within the Indian population.