Meet Capt. Binyamin Gulzar: the pilot who became Kashmir's first wedding planner

Braving the voices of dissent, Binyamin says that he went ahead with his plans and mainly relied on social media for business promotion

Being a commercial pilot with additional qualification of MBA, this Kashmiri guy was enjoying a flying career in South Africa till life took a twist in 2010, when his father, who was running a tenting-and-camping agency in Kashmir, passed away.  Having no other options, Captain Binyamin Gulzar grounded his aviation career and permanently returned to his homeland to continue his dad’s business.

Having global exposure and specialisation in business management, Binyamin wanted to give a new life to the business, which was far better than the tradition of routinely supplying tents and catering to customers.

He thought of introducing wedding planning and event management services, whereby “thematic events could be held while focusing on designer ambience and specialised services.”

“Usually families in Kashmir hosting wedding had to manage everything themselves and as a result, they would end up stuck in exhaustive work alone. I aspired to bring change so that the hosts have no such worries but only enjoy the memorable ceremonies,” 38-year-old Yamin told InUth.

To achieve this goal, he rechristened the family-owned Gulzar Camping Agency as Gulzar Hospitality Ventures in 2011, announcing innovative services like “thematic weddings.” This was something new for conservative Kashmir!

But this was where he faced hiccups from the society itself. From friends to relatives, almost everyone opposed his idea, saying that it was a misfit for a conservative Muslim society like Kashmir where “such extravagance” in wedding celebrations is seen as forbidden. “Almost everyone started telling me that wedding planning was against Shariah. But I had one argument that if people in Kashmir own costly villas and cars, why can’t weddings be solemnised through quality services of professional wedding planners?”

Braving the voices of dissent, Binyamin says that he went ahead with his plans and mainly relied on social media for business promotion. Within months his venture became an internet sensation. He started getting assignments much beyond his core interest of wedding planning.  He hosted the dinner for the Zubin Mehta concert held in Srinagar in 2013 while a year later the royal family of Jammu and Kashmir through Yuvrani Chitrangadda Raje Singh hailed him for his “excellent services”.

As of now, this young man offers employment to around 300 people while focusing mainly on wedding planning. So is he satisfied? “It’s giving me personal satisfaction because when my father passed away, I thought that if I settle abroad, it would mean the end of brand ‘Gulzar’. But now, the name lives on!”

However, Binyamin also says that during weddings, he often comes across conservative faces who express reservations over his business and keep sermonizing on simple marriages. “I try to explain to them that wedding planning is not about extravagance but quality services. Alhamdulillah many get convinced and my business goes on!”