Ahhhh weddings. The divine bond between husband and wife or husband and husband or wife… and well which ever is politically correct for you. They say that a funeral, religion and a wedding are the defining traits of a civilization. I must say if that is really the case then we Pakistanis are a civilization of the highest order ’cause boy do we celebrate on our weddings.
I once had a discussion with some peers on the importance of these so called Wedding Seasons. I was trying to understand why families prefer weddings on specific times throughout the year. Well summer vacations are obvious, kids are home, relatives coming from all over the world, parents are more relaxed.
What about the Winter breaks? Here I got an interesting response, ‘Are you kidding me? Winters are amazing, its chilly, we get to wear expensive suits, coffee tastes really good who doesn’t want to get married in winters?! Ok… er fair enough. But then what about the Eid Holidays? or for that matter specific times all year round when that ‘golden relative’ is coming on a strict deadline who would kill himself if he misses the wedding (its funny how they never change their own vacationing schedule for this major event)
OK so Winters, Summers, Eids and random golden relatives year round I think a Wedding Climate is a better choice of words. I don’t buy this season bullshit weddings in Pakistan just need an excuse to happen.
However one does not find many or in fact any occasion in Pakistan that gets celebrated purely out of a feeling of mutual respect, tolerance, joy and love the way our weddings do. It is in its essence a festival allowing people usually constrained by societal taboos and restrictions to enjoy life free of all limitation. Dancing together in our desi spirit, female friends getting permissions to stay over night or stay out late, lavish spending on the venues and so many other things which will on any other day be restricted by the elders. No matter how divided we Pakistanis are but inside that yellow-green flower Marquee we are all united as one. I think cricket is the only other event that brings us close the way weddings do!
A few of my friends got married quite recently and the whole fare was quite experiential. Dance practices, dholkies, mehndis, helping the house members out with the arrangements. The events proved to be a welcome break in a mundane week usually marked with work during the day, hanging out at nights and dinners on the weekends.
One Mehndi stood out among all other events. It was a union between one Karachi family of doctors and one Lahori family who, I learned later on were also doctors. Very interesting phenomenon.
The usual wedding processions took place. The arrival of the ‘barat’ (other wedding party) had a great fan fare among not only the people invited but also people on the side walks and passerbys. It reminded me of a Bora wedding last year when my friend the groom, actually rode on a white Arabic stead (horse) in traditional Bora garments all the way to the stage where his maiden fair was waiting for him. It was an amazing spectacle and I am lucky to have attended one. Wish our weddings were as interesting, I am sick of this usual Korma and Biryani shit. In the past 30 years the only modern thing about weddings in my family is the addition of a Coffee and/or Pan (betelnut).
So any way, the dances were good at this event. There were properly choreographed ones and free style ones. Freestyle should be a term synonymous with the Punjabis. A group of pretty dancing girls were joined by their cousins, followed by their friends, folllowed by their parents and as if on que the bride and the groom. A ruckus ensued on the tiny dance floor.
Now we Karachites are a bit shy and protective about our personal space. Punjabis on the other hand… In the confusion it seemed like all the guests from Lahore were crammed up on the dance floor with the their Karachi host quietly standing on the sidelines waiting for their turn to shake it. The d j getting caught in the tempo switched from the usual bhangra to Pitbull. hahah Pitbull! in a Mehndi. And hardly surprisingly there was a shout of joy from the Lahoris.
We decided to leave at this point and were just getting in our vehicles when someone from inside with a big smile on his face approached us.
“Hello, any body got a cigarette?”
“Sure” and I offered him one
“Oh thanks man, I am an asthma patient but I can’t live without this darn thing. I am a doctor too.”
“Oh really, then ho-”
“Don’t tell my wife though, she doesn’t know. Actually I just got married two days ago in Lahore and now I am attending my brothers wedding here in Karachi. Isn’t that exciting?”
“Yea sounds like f-”
“You know I am glad I found you guys they say cigarettes unites us all. Hey you guys know where a medical store is? Its time for my asthma medication”
“Yes it is about a Kilometer from here, you go straight and take a rig-”
“Can you please take me there? this is my first time in Karachi”
Oh boy. What a character. And as I said before there is just something about Lahoris , friendly though they are confused as fuck. We decided to give the nuptial soul a ride and had a good conversation along the way.
Funny thing a wedding is. A very cultural event. There are certain rituals and traditions no matter what the 1400 year old man made shariah bullshit counters, we will still do it. Even the extremists. Maybe there is hope still.