I haven’t been to a lot of weddings so my knowledge of the various traditions and rituals that form part of a typical Pakistani wedding is limited. Even in the weddings I have attended, I’ve spent most of the time waiting for the food to be served, and after it is served, eating as much of it as possible. So I’ll only describe the features and segments of a Pakistani wedding that I know about.
I admit, quite frankly, that the main (and perhaps, the only) reason I go to weddings is because of the food. Usually, when my mom asks me if I would like to accompany her on so-and-so’s wedding, the discussion goes like this:
Mama: Would you like to come with us to my friend <name>’s wedding?
Me: Will they serve Biryani?
Mama: I am not sure.
Me: What about Chicken Korma?
Me: Okay. I’ll be ready in a minute.
But I am pretty sure I am not the only one who does this. One thing I’ve always found amusing (and scary) is the way people attack the food at Pakistani weddings. It isn’t just your ordinary polite, well-mannered tussle, it’s an all out invasion! I sometimes wonder if there is something like a competition between the larki-walay (the bride’s family) and the larkay-walay (the groom’s family). The side that eats the most, in the shortest period of time, wins.
Children and teens are usually sent to the front-lines, to make swift, repeated raids on the enemy. The old uncles and aunties take on the role of generals, commanding their troops to invade and immediately take control of all resources. Some of them also engage in rather underhand tactics, such as trying to engage enemy troops in conversation or sending them on errands in order to distract and prevent them from eating the food. I confess, I am usually one of the fastest militia on these occasions.
For obvious reasons, people tend to eat an extraordinarily large amount of food at weddings. I’ve seen people filling five plates with Biryani and eating it all in a single sitting. In fact, my parents once actually scolded me for not eating a lot.
The Stage and Cameramen
For some reason, the bride and bridegroom sit on a sort of stage in the middle of the wedding hall. All the important visitors are expected to meet them there and get their pictures taken. There are also some cameramen shooting a video of the entire ceremony.
A long time ago, when I first saw this unique ritual, I was so awestruck that I somehow got it into my head that they were shooting an action movie and I was the main protagonist. I used to watch a lot of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Lee movies so, to the embarrassment of my parents, I started posing in front of the camera, flexing my muscles and punching in the air until someone dragged me out of the way.
The Politics and the Yassu-Panju
Since you can’t really bring your laptop, play-station or television set to a wedding, one can only do one of three things. You can either discuss politics and cricket with all the old uncles, discuss jobs and people with all the not-so-old uncles and the bhais or play king-stop and yassu-panju with all the annoying kids. Since discussing jobs and people bore me, I usually do a mixture of option 1 and 2.