Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monsoon weddings for sailors.
The rains have brought smiles to the faces of sailors of Salaya in Jamnagar district. Monsoon being the off season for them, many have taken the opportunity to plunge into matrimony.
Around 300 marriages have taken place in the past two months in this tiny coastal town of 35,000 people!
Amin Hassan, 19, came home from sea to be married at his hometown. He is here for only two months and will leave his new bride with his family and go back to sea, only to return after 10 months.
His family is happy and busy with wedding preparations like so many others. Seher Qazi or the main priest at Jamma Masjid is on his toes registering at least 12 nikahs a day.
Aziz Sumbhaniya, owner of country made vessel Sahere Madina' with whom Amin works, said, "As most men are working on country made vessels, or businesses related to them, monsoon is the only period they get a vacation of two months."
Sumbhaniya lives in Dubai, while his family lives in Khambhalia in Jamnagar district, 13 km from Salaya. He starts his sea journey in mid-August when vessels sail to Dubai and returns home 10 months later after trips to Mogadishu, Muscat and ports of Saudi Arabia.
Omar Abbas Says, "During monsoon, the sea is rough and it's not advisable to sail. Most of us work as seamen as this is our traditional business. There is no other industry or employment opportunity at or around Salaya. Most boys become good swimmers even before they pass high school and start working with their fathers." He points to the sea and adds: "This is our high school."
Imran Anwar, who got married last year, came back in June to see his wife and family after a terrifying ordeal. His vessel had been hijacked by Somali pirates. "It was very scary. When they tortured us, I thought I would never get to see my wife again."
Most sailors and their families face this fear. Rashida Imran Says, a newly-wed, "We know about the danger but have no option but to send them to sea as this is our only source of income."
The season also brings cheer to people involved in businesses related to weddings. Such as, canopy or mandap lenders, flowers sellers and music band owners. Ishak Bandwala comes to Salaya every season all the way from Dhoraji. He and his banjo band stay for two months and earn good money.
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