Stories about traditions

Bored of the same ol’ bbq? Spice up your Eidul Azha with these mouth-watering yet easy recipes

Eidul Azha, more commonly known as Bakra Eid in Pakistan, is that time of the year when Muslims sacrifice cattle in the remembrance of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS). But alas, the majority of the population here is either immersed in a statement marathon or avails this festival as a money-making opportunity. A growing trend has emerged nowadays, where people prefer to buy their animals a couple of days before Eid to avoid the costs and efforts required for maintenance of the animals. That doesn’t feel like it is in the Eid spirit. However, there is still a glimmer of hope. A few months ...

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This Ramazan, let’s make sure that converts are as much part of the faith as us

Ramazan and I are old friends. From a young age, mother would always let me stay up well into the night to fold samosas (fried dish with savoury filling) and fatayer (Middle Eastern meat pie) for the next day. For me, Ramazan means sleepy eyes, knowing smiles, and a month of eating on the floor with my family and praying with friends at the mosque I grew up in. More than anything, Ramazan means coming home – back to my community, back to my mama’s kitchen, and back to the One who sustains me. We are the lucky ones, those of us who have those deep traditions to fall ...

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Of coexistence, mannequin challenges and Pakistan

The history of the region where Pakistan exists today would tell you a lot about its pluralistic values. This is the land where Hindus and Muslims have peacefully coexisted for years. This is the land of Muslim Sufi saints like Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Fareed and Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, who preached values of humanity, coexistence and religious tolerance which is why they are revered today, not just Muslims, but by Hindus and Sikhs of the region as well. Even when you fast forward to 1947, it is evident that the post partition era of Pakistan was also very pluralistic. Do we not know our very ...

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Today, India is not what it was before he won the elections

Is India paying the price for electing Narendra Modi as its prime minister? I ask this question regularly because since Modi assumed office in Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been hurtling the country from one controversy to another. An atmosphere of fear has been created where any opposition to majoritarian politics is termed anti-national and the questioning of the government’s divisive agenda invites counter protests and blame for vitiating the atmosphere of the country. The state, therefore, has created enemies out of its own citizens by labelling them liberals, seculars, freethinkers and religious minority. The current controversy involving New Delhi based Jawaharlal Nehru ...

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We invited our maid’s family for a Diwali dinner and this is what we learnt

Inspired by her friends, my mother started a new tradition in our home last night – she invited the family of our maid, Madina to come to our home for dinner. Earlier, she had sent dad and me to buy all the groceries to prepare some special food for our guests. We all ate together and had a lovely conversation as well. This is the first time we have ever done anything like this in our family. It felt surreal to see Madina’s whole family sitting on our couch and eating with us on our dining table. This was especially significant for ...

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What it means to be a ‘Pakistani’

A few days ago a good friend of mine, living abroad, asked me a question: “What do you think ‘Pakistani’ means?” The question threw me aback, partly because it was unexpected and partly because I couldn’t think of an immediate answer. A myriad of images flew around in my head in an instant; from the hustle and bustle of Karachi’s Empress Market, to the textures of the Anarkali bazaar in Lahore. But my friend’s question went deeper than just images and feelings. I found myself trying to truly explore what the concept of being ‘Pakistani’ entails. EMPRESS MARKET. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA Looking at it purely ...

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Weddings in Pakistan: Down with the dowry, enough with the spending!

An often ignored reality that has plagued Pakistani society is that getting married is a financial nightmare. Marriage in our country is an occasion for insane displays of spending on outrageously lavish valimas, mehndi banquets, jewellery, give-aways, dowry and similar acts. What is interesting and downright appalling is that all classes of society are guilty of this madness. Our upper-class uses the occasion to show how wealthy they are. The middle-class, as always torn between the echelons of society, tries its best to spend as much as it can and register itself within the upper-class so as to feel accomplished. The poor take out the money ...

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Pashto films are destroying Pashtun culture

“Khandani Badmaash, Bewaqoof, Sharabi, Wehshi Badmaash, Ujrati, Charsi, Dama, Mastay Jenakai, Gandagir!” No, I am not abusing you. I am only naming a few of the famous films Pashto cinema has produced over the year. What is even more astonishing is that Pashtuns are known for their distinct code of conduct called the Pakhtunwali, which is quite different from what these movies depict. The Pashtun culture is an amalgamation of different elements which include the family structure or joint family system, the melmastia or hospitality, the jirga or tribal council which makes all important decisions, ghairat or the concepts of honour and courage and the satar or area of the ...

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Pangea, Cultivate our Cultures event: Uplifting Pakistan’s image in the US

Martin Scorsese, an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor and film historian once rightly said, “People have to start talking to know more about other cultures and to understand each other.” The ethnic diversity of Fargo-Moorhead, in Minnesota, USA is rapidly increasing with the influx of people from different countries and cultures. For the last couple of years, the area has been home to a festival called the Pangea – Cultivate Our Cultures (PCOC) held regularly in order to bring together different communities in Fargo-Moorhead and provide them with a forum to represent their respective cultures. Although there are a number of Pakistanis living in ...

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Jahaiz, destroying families one wedding at a time

The absurdity of the dowry norm, commonly known as jahaiz, prevalent in our society has long been debated. I did not realise the gravity of the issue until recently when my father’s cousin had to sell off his shop — the sole source of income for his family — to arrange the jahaiz for his daughter. The girl is now happily married to a financially stable guy but her family back home is finding it hard to survive. Her mother, who started sewing clothes to earn a living, has developed an eye illness that cannot be treated due to the treatment’s high ...

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