Dadkhai, Jammu and Kashmir, India – Dressed of their best shalwar-kameez and sporting well-trimmed moustaches, a gaggle of males deliberate over the phrases of a dowry, whereas girls put together halwa with dry fruits and a pot of conventional, salty Kashmiri tea, within the adjoining kitchen.

In Muhammad Sharief's modest residence in Dadhkai, a small group nestled excessive within the Himalayas, the 2 households have gathered to plan the upcoming wedding ceremony of 19-year-old Reshma Sharief and 22-year-old Mukhtar Ahmed.

Muhammad Sharief, 40, the daddy of the bride, waits patiently as the lads proceed their discussions. They lastly agreed on a dowry of $1,200 in money, plus a couple of gold ornaments. Aged males mutter prayers as sweets are introduced in from the kitchen. The home's tough picket roof, mud ground and vibrant partitions, coloured in pink and inexperienced, hummed with the sounds of celebration.

However whereas the 2 households have adopted all the standard wedding ceremony guidelines, this wedding ceremony will likely be removed from strange: the bride and groom, like dozens of others of their nation, are deaf-mute.

Misra Begum and Muhammad Sharief, the bride's dad and mom, sit earlier than the groom's father, Ghulam Khan, after the wedding fixing ceremony is over. [Sharafat Ali/Al Jazeera]

The situation has spanned generations of Dadhkai for the reason that first case was recorded over a century in the past. Each time a marriage takes place, ideas inevitably flip to the day the brand new couple has youngsters. Even when the dad and mom aren’t deaf-mute, there’s at all times a concern that their youngsters will likely be.

“Face this concern with an unshakable religion, refreshing it with braveness within the shadows,” says Muhammad Hanief, the pinnacle of the village who attends the festivities within the Sharief home.

In the course of the celebration, the bride-to-be stays within the kitchen, adhering to the conservative conventional values โ€‹โ€‹of her Gujjar ethnic group. Her boyfriend attends to the company, serving to to serve the meals as relations provide their congratulations.

Alam Hussain
Alam Hussain, 63, is likely one of the oldest deaf-mutes within the village group of Dadkhai – and the one one in his household with the situation. [Sharafat Ali/Al Jazeera]

Outdoors within the courtyard, villager Alam Hussain, an aged man with a white beard, deep wrinkles and a skinny construct, calmly tends to a herd of cows. At 63, he’s among the many oldest deaf-mutes within the nation, and the one one in his household with the situation.

“I don't keep in mind what number of deaf-mutes there have been in my childhood; Reminiscence betrays me in my previous age,โ€ says Hussain, pointing an index determine in direction of his head as he thrust his different hand within the air, conveying his wrestle with reminiscence loss.

It’s communicated by way of an interpreter in signal language: his neighbor, Shah Muhammad, who treats Hussain with respect and deference, indicating the excessive esteem by which the elders on this group are held.

However Hussain, who is just not married, spends a lot of his time alone. The one work he finds is in the summertime, when he takes the cows to pasture. Up to now, he says, it was significantly difficult for deaf-mute villagers to discover a companion. Because the variety of folks unable to listen to or converse has grown over time, the social panorama in Dadhkai has modified.

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