Famish Weddings

Posted by sepoy on November 08, 2004 · 3 mins read

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.


umar | November 08, 2004

i have seen such behavior too. i have also witnessed people complaining that they did not get any food and they left the wedding starving with hunger. but in the wedding video the same people appeared to have their plates full of food and were found so busy eating that they didnt realize they were being taped. those who can afford it still serve dinner at weddings and those who cannot easily hide behind that rule. so in a way this ban has been good for the society. As far as other matters like water distribution is concerned, i think its not fair to critisize the government for ignoring other matters when they do something towards solving some matters. they gotta start somewhere.

Umar | November 08, 2004

Another Umar... wow... at least he spells his name in lower-case or there would be major confusion... :) ... Anyways... I've often wondered why people do what they do with food at weddings... I mean, to begin with, its rarely any good... are free meals so hard to come by that people go haywire every time they get one? ... Can't figure it out... The ban on wedding feasts aside, I agree that we need to realize that being Muslim does not make you an Arab... our forefathers (in most cases anyhow) were Hindus, so if we retain cultural traits also found across the border, they need to be celebrated as OUR culture...

s¯nee | November 09, 2004

I dont understand the 'big' debate justifying 'our' islamic cultures from Hindus??? No doubt all these 'Khurafaat' = Mehndi, Mayoun, etc are the result of living toghether with Hindus for more than 100 years but we have a 'very' clear examples of Muslim weddings: i.e the weddings of our Prophet (PBUH) and His daughter Hazart Bibi Fatima (RTN)..even at those times there were Arab customs , but our Prophet (PBUH) showed us the way of simplicity ,a clear lesson not to follow 'traditions', but His (PBUH) teachings (sunnah)...But now we have 1 millions reasons *To* follow the *cultural* way and *not* the muslim/islamic way. I saw many taking heavy loans just to get their daughters wed off in the 'cultural' way--- Duniya kya kahay gEE ?? Logg kya kahain Gain ??? Shadee hay naa Bhai..ek bar hoti hay....etc etc...and even now they are trying to figure out how to to pay off the debt ..look in the example sepoy you mentioned: suhail's father begging for food etc... what kind of a culture is this ??? what are we following?? what are we trying to prove here?? Money? status? civilized??? I attended a bosianian , a turkey and an arab typical marriages and they had the same sort of pre & post marriage functions.some of them really weird!!!!.All of them mostly gave the same reason of 'being' 'chained' to their traditions , (some of them having nothing to with Islam anyways...).. Yes I have copies of Bihasti Zewar (Urdu& English) sepoy and i read it from time to time and simply LOVE it. It outlines more than just wedding concepts; you can also find the details on simple Fiqh concerning numerous things from everyday life. e.g. Salat/Namaz , Haj etc. One can read it online too... http://www.jamiat.co.za/library/books/bzewar/bahishti_zewar.htm Im fighting a same battle regarding my own marriage too..EVeryone wants to see a typical 4 function marriage with now newly added and polished item of mix dancing.. with both bride and groom buying their wedding dresses for lacs of ruppees ; just to wear it once in their lifetime!!! (My cute elder brother wants to have a FULL bhangara blast with Dhoti dresses !! and Allah knows what else...My best friends have outlined their own choices!! I think ill be like any other guest attending the marriage ?? ) I conclude by saying what Dr.Ashfaq Ahmed Marhoum once said for a similar issue: ' We need to differenciate between 'Taleem' (education) & 'Shauur' (conscious) as 'Many' of 'US' have the highest levels of taleem, status etc ; but no shauur to tell right from wrong...

sepoy | November 09, 2004

There will be bhangra blast (with dhoti and pugs), mayoun, mehndi with the entire corpus of Kashmiri and Punjabi marriage songs being sung with pride and gusto at sonee's wedding. All readers of CM are cordially invited. And sepoy LOVES bihisti zewar in that ironic detached, scholarly, sort of way - just clarifynig. Further clarification: Muslims have been on the sub-continent since c. 712 (and in significant minorities since c. 1040) living together with the "Hindus". If there is any "Arab" in any gene pool, it is in Thatta alone.

thabet | November 09, 2004

"but our Prophet (PBUH) showed us the way of simplicity ,a clear lesson not to follow 'traditions'" This sort of verdict belongs on Ask-Islam.com where Mufti Fulan Fulani gives us one line assertions. I would sincerely ask you to respect the Prophet by not turning his legacy into a fetish with 7th-century Qurayshi customs.

Farangi | November 09, 2004

I am available to solo my full repetoire of Kashmiri wedding songs, a cappella, at Sonee's wedding. A sound to behear, I assure you. Also, Sepoy was a groomsman at my oh-so-honky wedding: let it be known to all that he had three plates of fried chicken, a whole bottle of Orange MD 20/20 and subsequently led 180 nascar-watching red-staters in a rousing chicken dance.

sepoy | November 09, 2004

Lies, all lies. It was not the chicken dance but the Electric Slide. Much cooler, I have you know.