KOZHIKODE: “I don’t know how to find money now. I had thought of making payment to the jewellery shop through the ‘covers’ received during my daughter’s marriage. Only 50 people had participated in the marriage as per Covid rules and we got only a few ‘covers.’ The money in the covers will not be sufficient to pay even half of the amount pending to the jewellery,” wails Soman, father of a girl who was married off on July 11 in Arikkulam.
‘Cover’ in local parlance means the money which local people and relatives give to the bride, put in a cover. It is a popular practice in rural parts of Malabar. If the girl is from financially poor background, the number of covers and the amount in it will rise substantially as a noble gesture of the good souls to marry off a girl. Anticipating the money from ‘cover’ collection, the parents would buy gold in advance and book other marriage-related events. All that hope is now dashed as only 50 people can take part in a marriage function. “We had earlier decided to conduct the marriage in May but postponed it thinking the pandemic would end within a couple of months,” said Soman, a daily wage labourer who is out of job owing to the pandemic.
“It affects the economically weaker sections. In rural areas, people will take over the marriage function of a poor girl by financing the ceremony. Expecting the main source of money from ‘covers’, the parents would invite almost all the people in the vicinity,” says Shantha Mekkavu, ward-member of Arikkulam grama panchayat. Small jewelleries in local towns will give gold on a token advance on condition that the amount would be paid once the ‘covers’ are opened within days after the marriage. But now, such jewelleries backtrack realising that there won’t be any ‘covers’ to pay them back.
‘Covers’ given all these years have gone
The poor participation in marriages is affecting well-off parents also. Anticipating their daughter’s marriage in future, the parents had given big amounts in ‘covers’ during marriages in their neighbourhood expecting that they would get a hefty sum in return during their daughter’s marriage. “We had started giving ‘covers’ when my daughter was studying in 10th class. I have given lakhs of rupees so far. Her marriage is to be held next week and what we would get in return is only peanuts,” laments Haridasan K, an ex-serviceman in Thikkodi.
Cheruvannur grama panchayat president Biju K P says there is another side to this. “Covid has drastically cut short marriages into just a ritual of exchanging rings and garlands. The pomp and unwanted jewellery show offs have gone. That is welcome. But this has not deterred economically weak parents’ scramble for more gold while marrying off their daughters,” he says. According to him, parents are now scrambling to find all possible sources to conduct marriages.