My favorite wedding reception memory: Sohail’s uncle’s valima was at Avari Hotel in Lahore. There were about 4-500 guests and lots of food. Huge trays piled sky-high with roast chickens and biryanis and that sweet almond chutney so popular at wedding banquets. We were about 15 or 16 and were just standing in the corner of this enormous banquet hall stunned. People, grown men and women, were grabbing meat with both hands, taking a bite or two and just letting it drop on the ground. People were scooping rice and sauces with their bare hands onto their over loaded plates while yelling at the top of their voices. Such gluttony and greed I have never viewed to this day. They ran out of food. Sohail’s dad had to beg and plead to get some more food prepared. The closest I ever saw a nervous breakdown.
This was all before the ban on wedding feasts and the one-dish rule (at least in Punjab). The Pakistan Supreme Court rejected the Punjab Court decision to allow one dish and stated that only hot and cold drinks can be served at a wedding reception. The decision cited the fearsome burden on lower and middle class families in trying to live up to the exacting standards of conspicuous consumption set by the upper class. They also banned displaying dowry. As well as calling for enforcement on banning the “Hindu” customs of Mayoun, Mehndi and Barat.
The de-Hinduization of Muslim “culture” is an old, old, trope among dour deobandis. Maulana Thanawi’s Bihashti Zewar [Heavenly Ornaments]- the #1 wedding gift for Muslim women – was written at the turn of the 20th century for the explicit purpose of cleaning up the Muslim culture. Good luck with that. Damn, that irks me. It is not HINDU culture. It is OUR culture. Grow up, already.
What is more important, I think, is that the federal Supreme Court has asserted that federal law trumps state. The matter of wedding feasts is trivial as compared to the matters of water distribution and federal aid confronting states in Pakistan. It will be interesting to see if this is an opening salvo in the federal power-grab that The General is keen to initiate.
Nitin has more commentary including a link to the Daily Times editorial on Supreme Court’s move.
unrelated: Clarke: 6.2 overs. 0 maidens. 9 runs. 6 wickets. huh!?
updated:Jang Daily has an column today by Abdul Qadir Hasan that tells those who, like me, insist that Hindus and Muslims share cultural ties to “happily migrate to India and enjoy their multual culture without sullying us. I do have a request that when they return from India with degradation and despair to please tell us their story as truthfully as possible.” See you all in Delhi.