By: Gulrukh Tausif
“Bungalow, new car, kayee tolay sona, diamond ki angoothian, imported watches, Dubai kay return tickets……”
People who know me or read my blogs must know that I am not a great fan of game shows. I feel that some game shows urge the participants to indulge in games where they are left without a shred of dignity or grace for sake of a mobile phone or motorcycle. Some game show hosts are nothing short of megalomaniacs who humiliate their guests, make crass jokes and do things on live shows that will make any decent human being cringe with shame.
However, on hearing the words… “Bungalow, new car, kayee tolay sona, Dubai kay return tickets” I would have given anything to be on the set of a game show and not where I was actually present. Unfortunately for me, I heard these words just before the rukhsati of the daughter of a distant relative in whose baraat I was present. And these words were not spoken by Fahd Mustafa or Amir Liaqat or Sahir Lodhi but by the mother of the bride.
Her audience consisted of a group of women who probably were moms to young boys and girls. I could see the look of speculation in eyes of moms with sons, feverishly wondering what their own sons are worth. I could also see the look of despair and horror in the eyes of parents of girls of marriageable ages, probably wondering if their girls could get married if they are not accompanied by such a long list of dazzling jahez.
Not content with the recital of list of things that will accompany her daughter to her new home, the aunty’s conversation was littered with repeated use of words “standard kay loag” and “status ki khatir.”
Sometimes I wonder that even in this age and time, do parents of girls harbor a secret guilt for giving birth to daughters? Do they feel that they have to give a lot in dowry to sweeten the deal when they marry off their daughters? Or have greed and ostentation permeated every nook and corner of our thoughts when it comes to seeking of suitable rishtaas and holding wedding ceremonies?
It is true that weddings in our culture are a reason to celebrate and enjoy the occasion with family and relatives. Indeed it is they who add all the color and life to such important events in our life but at what cost nowadays? Millions of rupees are spent on senseless rituals and a new ‘rasm’ seems to get invented every week.
Then there are extravagant flower and light decorations, dance floors and hours of choreographed dance numbers that are all about showing off the wealth to the in-laws and other family members. The cost of food per head is spiraling out of control as there is intense competition to hire the best or the most expensive culinary artists.
It is not only the families whose sons and daughters are getting married that have to bear the brunt of these extravagant weddings. The guests too have to arrange for at least 4-5 different outfits to be able to attend the myriad of functions with their heads held high. From Mayoon, rasm-e hina, dholki and sangeet nights to baraat, valima and muklawa, a person can easily go bankrupt with the demands that are put on one’s pocket.
Are these rules and norms dictated by society or are they pitfalls made by our own hands? Why it is that simplicity is not something that one even wants to hear about as our daughters and sons embark upon the most important journey of their lives? Not content with borrowing customs and rituals from Bollywood movies, we have now progressed to borrowing scenes from Hollywood movies as well to spice up our desi weddings with violinists, bridesmaids in identical dresses and bouquet throwing rasm.
There is intense pressure on middle class parents to borrow money, not to meet the expenses but to keep the dreaded “loag kia kahain gay” stigma away from the family. Pre-wedding and post wedding functions and demands are leaving many families neck-deep in debt. Those families with two or three daughters to marry off are turning bankrupt as they try to imitate the posh weddings that are deemed to be status symbols.
It is indeed tragic that one daughter’s low key wedding makes it harder for families to attract good proposals for the other girls as they are not considered affluent enough to be considered “good rishta material.” Hence even those people who might deplore these rasms cannot escape the dictates of an unforgiving and demanding baradari.
No bills of marriages, one-dish rules or passing laws by government can put an end to the extravagant and wasteful expenditure on weddings in our culture as long as the mindset is not changed. And sadly, it seems to me that people are caught up in a frenzy to outdo each other in ostentation and pretensions. No one wants to hear the word “saadgi” when it comes to arranging a “shadi.”
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