Besides the ceremonies, celebrations, and actual happiness a Pakistani wedding is so much more than just a unification of two individuals. It appears more like a typical way to show off one’s wealth, social status, and power in terms of superiority over other people. Whenever the word wedding or marriage comes to mind, the idea of traditions, expenses, rituals, and many other things comes along with it. The concept of a wedding ceremony is quite different from its purpose in terms of cultural traditions and ever-evolving customers powered by consumers. Nowadays one of the reasons for delayed marriage can be an inability to afford the expenditures of a marriage ceremony that has dozens of events supposed to be attended by hundreds of guests.
Dowry- the Most Burdening of the Wedding Traditions
To comprehend what dowry is, let’s go back to the time when it didn’t mean a ransom for not torturing one’s daughter.
The notion of dowry came with its twin term the bride price. Both dowry and bride price were the traditions of ancient times when the bride’s family would present the groom with gifts or money for the girl to stay happy. Similarly, the groom would do the same to ensure that he shall take care of his wife. Just like the era, this idea of tradition also evolved with time.
When we hear the word dowry, we also picture cash, jewellery, luxurious items to be given to the groom and his family. However, there is no bride price involved in most of the Pakistani wedding traditions but only dowry. Parents of the girls have to save money for years to buy the expensive dowry items for their wedding. While, most of the times it is quiet discretionary from bride’s family to give their daughter whatever they want or whatever they can afford, the incidents of groom’s family pressurizing the bride’s family for giving expensive dowry are very common. In some cases, the girls have to face mental and physical torture for not bringing with them the dowry.
Then comes the people who provide the list of things they want as dowry from the girl. Most people would agree that dowry today, is nothing but a business transaction between two parties who are exchanging their children.
The perception is but a waste of time and money since there is no need to give loads of worthy material or cash to the groom. Presents and gifts, on the other hand, are fine unless the parents aren’t burdening themselves.
Even if families are giving dowry by choice and it is not a burden on them they still should refrain from putting it on display since there are many who can feel pressurized despite not being able to afford.
Why Need A Grand Gesture?
What is the best way to show off one’s wealth? In Pakistan the marriage ceremonies are the easiest way to let everyone know people own a treasure filled with gold and diamonds just like the forty thieves in Ali Baba had. In light of Wedding traditions in Pakistan, most people prefer Bollywood stars’ marriages as their reference, public in Pak love to have a wedding like Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas had. They like to have a huge event with pompous receptions graced by the thousands of people who are there to only eat or to praise the wealth; only few may have a real interest to say the best wishes for couple.
In Pakistan, almost every person believes giving references to religion while validating certain practices. Many preach about the significance of simplicity; however, they somehow forget the element of simplicity when it comes to their weddings. Grand marriage ceremonies are the new stereotypes of Pakistani culture. It doesn’t matter whether one is capable of affording the expenses or not. The reason might be the societal and cultural pressure that doesn’t allow a person to keep the celebrations simple. Having a remarkable marriage event isn’t a crime but it might be unnecessary for certain people who impose this burden on them considering as a ritual that they must perform irrespective of if they can afford it or not.
Think of the extraordinary functions of Barat and Valima which are celebrated separately while burdening the families of bride and groom. Understandably, the families are always more than willing to spend a lot of money to make the day even more special. However, if they merge these two functions into one and share the expenses, it might reduce the unnecessary expenses, and who knows, it might turn out to be an economical yet a great wedding.
Why Take So Many Days to Complete Wedding Celebrations?
Pakistan is a country of people with big hearts who are supposedly fond of huge gatherings to enjoy other’s company, which is a positive thing to do. They take this enjoyment to a whole new level when it comes to wedding ceremonies. Families prolong the wedding functions as their celebrations continue for more than seven days. Usually, the total number of functions, there are five: Mayon, Dholki, Mehndi, Baraat, Valima/reception. These five events take up to seven days or more in some families as they consider long weddings a way to have fun or just a means to waste their often untaxed money. Though lengthening the functions doesn’t fit into the category of wedding traditions but people have made it like that. Now, it is their obligation to keep the events continued and guests entertained.
The recent times have seen some more events inspired from the modern western traditions like bridal showers or bachelor parties that are becoming obligatory despite being absolutely unnecessary wedding traditions.
Week-long marriage ceremonies, formalities, and rituals may not be a problem for rich people, but they may have a negative impact on middle-class families.
Making weddings synonymous with something that requires big chunks of money makes it impossible for underprivileged families to get their children married off. Wedding traditions that are fun and aim at adding to the spirit of marriage are fine. However, imposed customs powered by consumerism are just a burden that can make it difficult for two people to get married or distract the society from what should be a necessary pre-requisite for tying a nuptial which is the importance of the consent of parties involved.