"A wedding guide for those young, soon to be married Pakistanis, and indeed, those poor unfortunate non-Pakistani souls who, unbeknownst to them, have incurred God's wrath and decided to marry into a Pakistani family."
- The Alif Team
No Pakistani wedding is complete without a fight or two. Be it the guest list or the color of napkins, there is always something to have a good ol’ fashioned battle royale over. Although normally inconsequential, these fights can sometimes boil over, with people (often close relatives) refusing to attend the wedding and canvassing others to do the same. The reason? No one (boycotees included) is really sure - though it most probably has its roots in the fact that the day of the wedding (planned 6 months ago) has fallen on the same day as a senior auntie’s dentist appointment. Said auntie was well within her right to ask the bride’s parents to change the day of the wedding. The parents refused outright, resulting in some 'izzat' (respect) related problems for the auntie and other members of her clique.
The Wedding Card
Always a joy to read the spelling mistakes and seventy-seven names crammed into a wedding card the size of a postage stamp.
"Mr and Mrs Ahmed rekwest the pleasure of your company at the Walima Seremoneee of their beloved shon,
Grandosn of the late Tariq Ahmed and Maryam Hussain. Newphew of Hasan Khan, Cousin of Tanveer Yusuf, Ex-husband of Fatimah Raja, Friend of Ameena Sarwar."
The Guest list
Remember that questionably homosexual 'uncle' you met at your cousins' BBQ? - Yup, he's invited. Your close friend of 15 years, Ahmed? No space for him unfortunately.
Guest lists are hard - their construction requires a lot of time, effort and patience. They also require common sense, something which in a wedding household is strictly at a premium. So stupid, idiotic, and downright barmy decisions will be made.
The rituals...deep breaths. All great cultures have weird and wonderful wedding customs. The Jews hold the groom up on a chair and dance round him - sweet. They proceed by breaking a glass - small scale vandalism, but again, sweet nonetheless. Pakistani wedding customs on the other hand range from theft and force feeding to eerily disturbing levels of emotional blackmail.
If the loss of dignity wasn’t bad enough, the groom is now obliged to pay obscene amounts of money for the safe return of his shoes... So begins the bargaining. What would you pay for the return of uncomfortable shoes that reveal your short stature? £10...£15 at the most. Yet for some reason, the idiot groom ends up forking over £300 to get his shoes back. It is the ghetto equivalent of being mugged for your Nokia 3210 and being forced to buy it back from the mugger at over 10 times the market rate. Does nobody else find this disturbing? I swear, come my wedding day, I would rather walk out of the banqueting hall bare foot, than pay for the shoes I never wanted to wear in the first place. Or better yet, maybe I’ll fight back. Let’s see how brave the girls are when I decide to throw a few punches. One black eye = saving of £300. Well worth it if you ask me.
Each auntie will turn up with about half a ladoo, ceremoniously forcing it down the grooms throat. In a period lasting no more than half an hour, the groom will have eaten the equivalent of about 10 boxes of Ambala - adding an extra 7 kg to his weight in the process.
The Number of Events
Pakistani weddings have enough events to confuse most attendees into believing that they have been invited to the wedding of a grand Venetian prince, not Mr. Khan’s 20 year old son. The mendhi, the pre-mendhi, the pre-pre-mendhi, the registration, the shadhi, the nikkah, the valima, musical nights, laptop evenings, egg and spoon race...arrgh. By the time the wedding festivities are over, the happy couple have had 3 kids - with twins on the way.
His light is almost blinding; comparable, perhaps, to a near death experience, yet he still keeps it on full blast, with an astonishing disregard for the pawns in his sordid Bollywood debut.
The bride comes in wearing a red bed sheet embedded with sequins and the groom is dressed like Aladdin. I am yet to see a Pakistani wedding where something other than this is the case.
Oh boy. Segregated weddings just do not work. The intention is fantastic, seperate the men from the women, minimise free-mixing, promote Islamic culture. Great. Unfortunately, this holy intention isn’t shared by all. The organisers seem to think that a mere silk curtain will prevent wife-seeking loners from the men’s side from venturing into enemy teritory. The sanctity of the curtain will last for about half an hour after which the first breach will occur - usually a close male relative/uncle. Before long, the curtain will fall - much like the Berlin wall, with folk flocking to either side rejoicing in their liberating victory over the tyrant organisers. A bit of advice – segregation will only work with an electric fence. And perhaps a few dogs patrolling the buffer zone.
And so, there we have it. A guide. A review - call it what you want. When it comes to the circus show that is a Pakistani wedding, there's always one looming on the horizon.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
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