Of Pakistani weddings and vulgar mujras

Published: November 9, 2012

In Pakistan, eunuchs as treated as mere disposable pieces, pieces only used for poking fun at signals, or pointing at and laughing, having absolutely no regard for their feelings. PHOTO: REUTERS

“The highest happiness on earth is marriage.”  William Lyon Phelps

Last week, my sister and I attended a wedding. It was beautiful, well organised and we were enjoying ourselves thoroughly to the songs being sung by the singers sitting in front of the crowd. The couple being wed was seated on the front couch and their elated faces were evidence to their happiness.

When the song ended, I was taken aback by the sudden blaring of vulgar Indian item songs reverberating in my ears; looking up I was absolutely appalled to find a transgender person in a mere red bra and a mini skirt standing in front of the crowd, getting ready to dance.

The dance was clearly vulgar, offensive and unlike anything I had ever seen before. The transgender person approached the men in the audience in a very seductive manner, moving her fingers all over their faces. Old uncles, previously enjoying themselves on the sidelines, were now standing up just to catch a better glimpse of the dancer.

At that very moment, melancholy and disgust crept over me. There was a human being in front of me who had taken off most of her clothes to provide entertainment to the upper, richer, class and what saddened me more was the fact that the crowd wasn’t illiterate. In fact, it consisted of decent, wealthy, educated people who had gotten their degrees from respectable colleges abroad and here. These same people were ogling at this human being, all concepts of modesty and respect out the window.

Shouldn’t they have been distinguishing between right and wrong based on their level of education?

I turned around and to find a little girl, of no more than five, innocently watching live porn unfold in front of her. The girl’s mother, who sat beside her, was clearly enjoying the whole ordeal and made no effort to remove her daughter from the vicinity. Won’t this experience shatter the girl’s innocence or create a bad example in her impressionable age? She will learn from an early age that transgender people must be laughed at and must only be considered as an object of entertainment.

The obvious level of hypocrisy in this society still overwhelms me, and it was this hypocrisy that urged me to pick up my pen and write this article.

Over the past few months, I have come across extremely nasty comments on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook targeting Veena Malik, abusing her for stripping in public and not conforming to the norms of our society.

But what exactly are these people doing themselves?

Here I was, sitting in the ‘land of the pure’, before a semi-naked transgender person dancing to the beats of an item song. These people have hired an item dancer to entertain people at their wedding and are visibly are taking pleasure from the mujra. Sadly, these are also the same people who would be first in line to turn their heads the minute it is over and abuse the stripper on networking sites, having completely forgotten that they too were party to it.

They made another human being endure humiliation, by making her perform something she may not have wanted to, but did so owing to financial conditions. I couldn’t help but wonder what state of helplessness drove her to take up such a profession. Clearly, nobody wants to be treated as a material item – as someone who is just there to be ogled at.

A transgender person, commonly and insultingly, is known as a ‘hijra’ in Pakistan. They are stereotyped as sex workers, prostitutes, vulgar; unwanted and unneeded. While many transgender people are trying very hard to break away from these stereotypes working instead as tailors, maids and nannies, to earn a decent living, respectably, there are some who may not have that luxury of choice.

Now, some of you would argue that the organisers have the right to fulfil their desires at their wedding but I disagree when the point comes to publicly exposing and humiliating somebody, taking advantage of their helplessness.

My sister and I stood up and called for our driver to take us home from the wedding immediately. I refuse to be party to another human being’s humiliation.

Read more by Javeria here.

Javeria Khalid Petiwala

Javeria Khalid Petiwala

A student based in Karachi, an ardent debater, and a Master Chef fan, she loves writing and travelling.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Valid point nicely made.
    Would it have been acceptable if there was a female in place of the transgender person ?
    Would it then be hypocrisy or simply bad taste ?
    I suppose this is what one expects in a society when money comes easily and values and good sense take a back seat.Recommend

  • http://oly.com.pk kamran ahmad kami

    i have bit confuse about the shemale and transgender . what’s the difference between both????Recommend

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/urdu/2011/10/post_738.html Najeeb-ur-Rehman

    You write ‘enjoying ourselves thoroughly to the songs being sung by the singers sitting in front of the crowd’. Here you did not write which one song and which class (folk, classical, drum, disco, filmi song relate to Pakistan) belongs to that song. Without observing it, it is difficult to express that in which condition you dislike other songs.

    You also dont bother to write class of wedding. Whether it was wed of elite class, upper class, middle class or lower class. Without knowing it, it is hard to submit any solid, realistic and awesome opinion on vulgar dance and songs.

    Further, without observing Cast (e.g. Jutt, Gujjar, Bhatti-Nai, Malik-Taili, Khan, Sandho, Bandesha….) wed owner or function creator.

    These are the major points which required to know prior to giving an overall opinion on porno dances etc. Thx Recommend

  • Salu

    One of the best article I have read in a long time.

    Hypocrisy in all its shape or form prevails more in our society than any other in the world.Recommend

  • Maryum

    She has mentioned; “crowd wasn’t illiterate. In fact, it consisted of decent, wealthy, educated people who had gotten their degrees from respectable colleges abroad.”

    This clearly shows that it was a posh, upper class elite wedding.Recommend

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/urdu/2011/10/post_738.html Najeeb-ur-Rehman

    Keeping in mind ‘ wed competition’ in society likely ‘Qurbani Competition’ on Eid-ul-Adha, lower class may arrange wed like upper class. ThxRecommend

  • I.

    Sadly,yes hypocrisy has become norm in our society.
    Bt when Bollywood actresses (yes even th very famous ones) dance on item songs,it’s basically th same.same steps,same revealing clothes!
    These item songs are very much famous in entire sub-continent
    For Pakistanis ,watching that crappy stuff is ok bt when vena Malik comes,they start yelling “haram haram haram” – hypocrisy at its pinnacle.Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    Javeria, an excellent piece. I myself think on the same lines as you and hate it when someone is being made the object of amusement, degradation and humiliation. I liked the way you pointed out several wrong things happening in our society in this one piece. I also like the way you write! Well done!Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    WE PAkistanis love to watch when “some one else” does “vulgar/shameful/wrong” things ….Recommend

  • Hemna

    Written with a lot of depth. I could feel sitting right there. Nicely written and very well captured feelings.
    And the purpose was outstanding!Recommend

  • saeed

    Salute to human element of author for unearthing real hypocracy of so called Islamist societyRecommend

  • http://www.kabacreations.com Vishnu Dutta

    Why are you against pakistan’s culture? if people have been doing it without problem and hurting anyone then why hate it?Recommend

  • http://www.risingkarachi.blogspot.com Nouman Ahmed

    All points are clear. He has just tried to portray a poor image of elite class and cast does’t make any difference. Has has talked about general. Recommend

  • http://www.risingkarachi.blogspot.com Nouman Ahmed

    @Najeeb-ur-Rehman: “crowd wasn’t illiterate. In fact, it consisted of decent, wealthy, educated people who had gotten their degrees from respectable colleges abroad and here.”
    Wedding was of elite class as the party consisted of wealthy people(as highlited below) and a poor can arrange a hi-fi wedding but he can’t invite wealthy people.Recommend

  • Historian 1

    Common people get a life..if they were having fun (means acceptable to all old, young, women and men) and that also in a family function, whats wrong in that. @ Author you did the best to leave if you didnt like the mujra but you cannot draw lines on others. Live and let live. Recommend

  • http://google Nasser

    Sick to the stomach – would be a gross understatement.

    Laanat hay in naqli jahilu pur. 10 steps away from the grave – and all hell breaks loose! For now, though, no worries. Enjoy!Recommend

  • http://ind Raw is War

    @ kamran ahmad kami

    all aes sameRecommend

  • Sat

    Beautiful. So beautifully writtten.
    It is true that Pakistanis love to see the stripping but then after the act, they say: haram haram.
    Its just so hypocritic, its unbelievable.Recommend

  • Hameed

    Must be in Punjab, they love itRecommend

  • howdoyouknow

    The wedding was in Pakistan, the vulgar performer was a Pakistani, the old men who seemed to be enjoying it were Pakistani but you could not resist dragging India into this by reference to ‘vulgar Indian item songs’ could you?

    Indian music has Hindustani classical music, bhajan, ghazals, folk music from different parts of the country, Carnatic classical music and all genres of movie songs – not just in Hindi but Bengali, Nalyali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu etc. It is the couple and their family who chosethose particular type of songs.Recommend

  • Hadi

    It’s good to see that these issues are at least being acknowledged, and awareness is being spread about them. I love how you start with the quote “The highest happiness on earth is marriage.” How can such an important era of our life start with such cruel acts?
    We can all start protesting against it in our own small ways (blogging, showing our displeasure by leaving from such places and discussion amongst our families). Good work!! Looking forward to more great blogs from your side.Recommend

  • Majid

    Hey, no one put a gun to anyone’s head! Or did you see otherwise?Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    Why point fingers at Veena when we are corrupt to the core?Recommend

  • gp65

    Ah. So you are invited to a wedding and after enjoying the hospitality, you come and blog about how vulgar the entertainment arranged by the hosts was. Really classy on your part.Recommend

  • Sane


    You and your sister did the right thing…getting out of it. Such people whether educated or not do not have any vision or moral ethics. If you go in deep you will find them raised on Haram earned money. There are many evils occurring in the society; like competition in Qurbani. So much so ‘Muqabls e Husn’ or catwalk of sacrificial animals. We are inviting AZAB of ALLAH, which is already on us, if we could have understand.

    Most amazing of all; as someone told me that on Haj people take photos while in Kaa’ba, when they are performing ‘BOSA’ to Hajr e Aswad or any other such thing. Where are we leading to…..??Recommend

  • Fawzya

    I am so shocked
    Never thought that such scenes can be held in Pakistan!
    Well another black point to the Muslim CommunityRecommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    You wouldn’t pay to watch her slit her wrists in front of a wedding crowd, would you? You shouldn’t be paying her to commit social suicide for your entertainment either.

    I wouldn’t normally object to this performance (as distasteful as it was) on moral grounds regardless of the dancer being male, female or transgender, as I don’t have a phobia of sexual displays.

    But considering how in our society such displays are universally considered degrading and shameful, this was an ethical disaster. It doesn’t even matter if the performer herself didn’t think of it as a big deal.Recommend

  • Conservative

    I believe a person who earned money with hard work and legal means were never spent it on such things. Glad to see at least some one realize to highlight such issues. Recommend

  • http://www.risingkarachi.blogspot.com Nouman Ahmed

    @Vishnu Dutta:
    Because Pakistan is a Islamic Republic and the culture shouuld also beIslamic.Recommend

  • Sane

    @Vishnu Dutta:

    Take care of your home, not peep into others. When much much more filth you have.Recommend

  • http://salmanzq.blogspot.com/ salmanzq

    This is what happens when you cry haram at all performing arts leaving behind acts which aren’t really worth watching. Recommend

  • Jibran Khan

    Good Article…..

    But our Haya/Sharam level should be more higher…where we must know our mehrams (People you can go infront of them without Hijaab) …. I still feel it was a good article we must think about it.
    These are bigger sinz/diseases of our society..


  • T

    one of my best reads.Recommend

  • Danial G. Mohiuddin

    Thanks for writing such a great post, and for highlighting this cancerous issue of our so self-proclaimed hayaadar societyRecommend

  • Danial G. Mohiuddin

    Thanks a milliom for weiting this post… I was planning to write on a similar subject and yes “hypocrisy is at its pinnacle” in our self proclaimed HAYAADAAR MU’ASHRAARecommend

  • Sarah

    Point well conveyed. Good use of words and grammar.
    These things take place in my family but sadly, I cant do anything about it. Its very courageous of you to bring this issue to light.Recommend

  • Rumaisa

    This is a wonderful eye opener…and you have done a great job by highlighting the abusive nature of our society…Truly hypocrats we hav in our society who are least bothered to peep in their own necks before pointing fingers to othersRecommend

  • Romeo Armani

    very sensitive topic to discuss about…… well done JaveriaRecommend

  • khalida

    Would it have been okay if there was a female instead of the transgender?? Or speaking up for transgender is the new in thing …??? Transgender, female or male … exploitation in the said manner is religiously wrong and not accepted. Recommend

  • Akhter

    You completely missed the point!
    Vulgar is Vulgar be it Pakistani or Indian, and no it is not cool to have such types of performances at weddings or anywhere else. The author rightly showed her disdain at people enjoying such performances where a poor person is taken advantage of. Recommend

  • sami

    This is our new society………. just pass your time with this kind of society and dnt take tensions…ye qoum soe howi hai is ko jagana mushkil hai kio k ye bohot he zarori kaam sy soe howi haiRecommend

  • Insaan

    Author “The transgender person approached the men in the audience in a very seductive manner, moving her fingers all over their faces. Old uncles, previously enjoying themselves on the sidelines, were now standing up just to catch a better glimpse of the dancer.”

    It just shows many men in Pakistan are sexually starving, why would normal men enjoy this seductive actions by a transgender or have a transgender dancing them.

    I have seen videos of wedding parties on Internet where real “girls” are used for entertainment.
    These dancers do these things of their own free will and don’t feel humiliated. Usually women are absent from the audience when “girls” are dancing.

    Most Pakistani Punjabi Mujra songs I have heard on the Internet, have DOUBLE meanings and sound erotic.Recommend

  • sarwarn

    Did you hear the class, author mentioned , saying ‘haram haram’? Just asking. I don’t think they count it bad..Recommend

  • Aaima

    I attended a friends birthday party last month where she had called female dancers to her party. I felt really really uncomfortable but couldnt do anything except to walk quietly from her party. Recommend

  • HIRA

    I like how you have included most important issues in this one blog, about society’s hypocrisy, people targeting Veena Malik and rights of transgenders.

    You’re an ALevel student and you write brilliantly! I am officially your fan!Recommend

  • hassan

    Punjab Punjab hayRecommend

  • Ali

    A true eye opener.

  • Ali

    Its hard to believe that such a young girl wrote such an amazing articleRecommend

  • gp65

    @AKhter : “@gp65: You completely missed the point! VERY CLASSY OF YOU!
    Vulgar is Vulgar be it Pakistani or Indian, and no it is not cool to have such types of performances at weddings or anywhere else.

    I did not miss the point and have no comment to offer on whether a particular brand of entertainment should be called vulgar or not. That is determined by the local culture surely. My point related to the rudeness of criticizing the hosts in such a public forum after enjoying their hospitality.Recommend

  • rafazliban

    yeah hypocrisy in yourself as well when you say “hypocrisy in our society”. You are pointing fingers at yourself.Recommend

  • Afshan Aziz

    “My sister and I stood up and called for our driver to take us home from the wedding immediately. I refuse to be party to another human being’s humiliation”.

    For person who left “immediately” you sure came up with quiet a graphic story, I also feel bad for you to being exposed to these shrewd inhuman realities of life, I sincerely hope your “driver” drove you back to candy land, you must have slip out with an over flow of chocolate rivers and ice cream scoops!

    eyes rolling Recommend

  • Human

    @Afshan Aziz:
    Its seems as if you planned the party / wedding & its entertainment Recommend

  • Afshan Aziz

    @Human: if I had planned the party it would have made the headlines not a blog. Recommend

  • elementary

    To me point of article is that : Transgenders are humiliated,laughed at and taken advantage of ; they are hardly even considered humans let alone equal humans. This is disgusting.
    We derive sadistic pleasure from afflicting pain and humiliation on weaker segments of our soceity( People with Down syndrome( unabashedly called shadolay ke chohay) in our culture is another example) I feel ashamed and appalled whenever I see such behaviour ,which ,unfortunately, is plentiful in our land of pure.
    Vulgarity on the other hand is a relative and subjective term and you can have opposite opinions on that one, Recommend

  • Khan

    This is one of the rare blogs in Tribune that’s really really needed. This is exactly what we should be talking about. Questioning our own norms and values. In a place like Pakistan that is the first step. Recommend

  • Muhammard Rizwan Ali

    why go thereRecommend

  • Naresh

    @Najeeb-ur-Rehman Ji :
    You stated : Further, without observing Caste (e.g. Jutt, Gujjar, Bhatti-Nai, Malik-Taili, Khan, Sandho, Bandesha….) wed owner or function creator.
    Thank you for the above.
    Are these Castes from a Particular Province of Pakistan or are these “Caste” every Province has a Caste System of its own?

  • Noor Us Sabah

    Can’t believe this could be happening at a literate Pakistani’s home!Recommend

  • Pamela

    You tell a gripping tale. Nice work. i look forward to more your posts.Recommend