The wedding season has officially begun in Pakistan. Starting around November, it goes straight into the new year, breathlessly pausing for one night on New Years, dancing in Valentine’s Day red in February, and gracefully waltzing into March.
A wedding in Pakistan is far more than just the union of two people; in fact I think it’s safe to say that takes the backseat. In Pakistan, weddings are full-fledged ordeals, a minimum four day extravaganza where the emphasis is on the superficial and glittery.
The dynamics of the Pakistani wedding have changed so rapidly over the past few years that the celebrations today, even in the highest echelons of society, are poles apart from what they used to be. The game changers have been people’s ability to spend, the advent of social media, their obsession with perfection, and the sudden appearance of the quintessential wedding planner.
While the cost of an average wedding has gone up for those arranging it, it is also spiralling for attendees of the functions. The pressure to spend exorbitant amounts on their clothes and presents for the various events weighs heavily on those attending. Recycling wedding outfits is no longer an option; you blame social media for that.
The glitz and the glamour of the Pakistani wedding is directly proportionate to the weight of your bank account. Your material status is not merely determined by the house you live in, the cars you have, the types of schools your children attend, and the holidays you take. A wedding is the largest and loudest announcement of who you incluidng what your social standing is, what designer clothes you own, what diamonds and gold shine on your fingers, wrists, ears and necks, what entertainment you can afford and how exclusive your guest list will be. Today, Pakistani weddings are a representation of evolving societal sensibilities, priorities, and choices.
This is all without delving into the psychological effects these displays of wealth must be having on the minds of the majority in Pakistan. With 24% of the population living below the poverty line, and the rest existing within the lower/lower-middle class, most are too poor to even dream of hosting an event that can begin to rival the level of extravagance exhibited at the Pakistani wedding.
It is further interesting to see how excessive wealth has changed mindsets even with the more traditional aspects of weddings. As parents celebrate what is debatably the most important day for their families, they idea has traditionally been wanting the best for their loved ones. Slowly, steadily and glamorously, the idea has metamorphosed into much more. The result is days of merriment, music, dance, food, lovely clothes, lovelier jewelry and exorbitant entertainment.
The sadness of seeing a beloved daughter leaving home is dimmed in the happiness of seeing her getting married in splendour amidst family, friends and hundreds of guests. The joy of bringing a new person into your home and watching your son become a bridegroom is enhanced by the charm and magnificence of the celebrations of his wedding.
If there is any hope for sanity amidst the financial absurdity of Pakistani weddings, it must come from the growing class of urban professionals, people who may simply not have the time or energy to spare from their careers to have a traditional series of ceremonies. Here’s hoping the workaholics take over!
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