Stories about weddings

Is it a burden to have four daughters in a Pakistani society?

“Four daughters?” the woman asked, her eyes wide with a mix of horror, pity and fascination. Then, “Mashallah!” A sympathetic smile, followed by, “They are beautiful. May Allah (SWT) bless them with good kismet (fortune)” I can’t count how many times I have heard these sentences being said to my mother. Different women, same words, same connotations each time. For most of my life it did not bother me. I took it in stride. After all, it is a burden to have four daughters in a Pakistani society. To find an educated husband for them, to painstakingly accumulate their dowry, to train them in the art of keeping house; above all to ensure their ...

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Four cups of tea: Bringing people together for years

“If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time, you are an honoured guest. The third time, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die. Dr Greg, you must take time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated but we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time.” – Three Cups of Tea. Last week became a little strange. First, the Express Tribune blogs team asked if I would be ...

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Nishana daz daz vaj da: The big bang wedding

Since months now, every second night, some fat cat decides to mark a wedding with insane amounts of aerial firing, followed by what – to my untrained ear – sounds like a small bomb blast. Insane, right? You’d think by now, people would have realised that this is a) unsafe b) uncouth  and c) something that will make people wake up at 3am in panic – any of the above realisations should easily bring an end to such behaviour. Forget about how all this might be illegal – after all, that’s never stopped us from having a bit of ‘fun’. Nope. Without fail, ...

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Your daughter’s education is as important as her marriage

The wedding season is currently in full swing in the country. There are weddings events and functions almost every other day.  This is the time when practically every household is involved in mehndis, dholkis and mayuns (musical nights) along with nikkahs, shaadis and valimas. I do not know whether it is the pleasant weather that inspires so many to get married at this time of the year or if it is the fact that winter holidays means that friends and family from abroad can attend weddings at this time, not to mention that local schools are also closed, making it easier for the parents. What I do know ...

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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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When not being able to afford dowry can lead you to kill yourself

What would you say to five women, who are all fairly above the ‘marriageable age’ and yet have no good prospects in sight? Yes, I know that phrase pretty well. ‘Haye bechari!’ (Oh, the poor thing!) But it’s alright. Four of these five women don’t have to worry about marriage anymore. That is not because they have found feminism. It’s not because they found someone to take care of them or to love them or hold on to them without the greed of a dowry or a fancy wedding. It’s not because their father has won a lottery and suddenly became the richest man ...

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Are homemakers ‘prostitutes’?

Politically incorrect, pathologically honest and a prolific rambler – that’s author of Prozac nation Elizabeth Wurtzel, in a nutshell for you. Recently, with her 5,500-word confessional article, “My one night stand of a life” published in New York Magazine, she has sucker punched the entire publishing world with a diatribe, that is exactly like her, honest to a fault. One of the groups who have come under fire of Wurtzel’s unapologetic pen is homemakers or housewives. “I believe women who are supported by men are prostitutes, that is that”, says Wurtzel While it may seem that Wurtzel might just be talking just about gold diggers, in ...

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A ‘long march’ against social evils

My October 2011 visit to the Wahi Pandhi village in the Katcho desert suggested that there is a deep connection between ‘money and marriage’. Early marriages were widespread in this desert area, where trying to secure a regular meal is a challenge. Such ‘marital transactions’ are but the norm to win the basic necessities of life. During my visit, I met a ten-year-old girl named Kanwal. Her name was beautiful — it meant water-lily. Sadly, her fate was not as enchanting as her name. It was learnt that the police had foiled her marriage in the preceding year as she was underage. The ...

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Let’s Love Pakistan – a New Resolution (IV)

Here I am with the fourth instalment in the “Let’s love Pakistan” series. There is so much to love about this country that I am compelled to continue this list: 27. Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi: Abdul Sattar Edhi began his ambulance service in the 50s, and has since then been a busy, busy man. Today, Edhi Foundation runs the world’s largest radio-linked ambulance service all over Pakistan, and operates countless old age homes, orphanages, clinics, women’s shelters, rehabs and mental asylums. The duo has won dozens of local and international awards and honours but they’ve also been targets of some serious criticism over the ...

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What exactly is a Hindu rasm anyway?

Recently, a friend of mine shared a small story about a “dholki” where friends and family had gotten together to sing and dance and celebrate an upcoming wedding of a dear one. During the festivities, a member of the gathering, who was quite uncomfortable, got up and qualified the event as a “Hindu’ana rasm” (Hindu ritual). This, obviously, was followed by whispers amongst the guests, looks of outrage and blatant stares. Almost all of us have heard this statement at some point in our lives. There are many in our society who deem certain activities or wedding related rituals as being anything ...

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