In another group when I told friends about occasions like someone's death or marriage in Pakistani society they barely believed me, so I thought of covering marriage of a relative recently held.

GANA traditionally a band with hanging strips named "gana" is bound to groom's wrist in a ceremony a weak or so prior to the marriage day which officially marks the beginning of marriage. Groom wears gana upto marriage night until it is removed by his bride at wedding night.(though in this case groom refused to wear it for so long). It got to do something with good luck because people also hang "gana" to their newly contructed houses too.

After that day both men and women of the village gather every evening in the bride's and groom's houses where they sing traditional songs and perform dances.

Shaker Marriage friends are officially announced(called sambalas). Groom along with friends visits one friend's houses per evening prior to the marriage where they are offered tea and sweets. Friend's family give a tray of sweets and cloth of a dress to the groom as present on the occasion.

Mehndi two days prior to marriage mehndi ceremony is held in the evening. Both bride and groom are applied mehndi(a skin coloring extract of Hina plant). Women usually wear green or yellow on the occasion(resembling color of plant or the extract). Other participants mostly women also apply mehndi on their hands.

Daaj Both bride and groom's families put wedding cloths, jewelry and other things prepared for the marriage on beds and women of village are properly invited to have a look on them a day prior to the marriage. This occasion is named as "daaj".

Ghroli marriage day starts with a ceremony named ghroli(pitcher) in which grooms sisters and relative women go singing to the village common well to fetch water. Pitcher keep on shifting the heads of women relative to the groom. In the end groom bring it down from a sister's head and pay her some money for the effort.

Sehra Bandi Then groom changes and ride on a horse back. His sisters feed his marriage horse. If marriage is in the same village then groom rides his way to the bride's house. But in case of distant marriage it is just a ride to local shrine and grave yard. On the way people stand in front of their gates having a glass of milk in their hands which is offered to the groom. After drinking it he puts some money in the empty glasses.

On the marriage day groom visits graves of his close relatives. In this case a sad moment because of father's absence on the marriage day.

Marriage ceremony takes place in bride's house. In this case in a marriage hall accompanied with several rituals. I will not go in details of that but it is a grand affair involving several hundred people from both sides.

Broom is given a glass of milk by bride's sister for which he got to pay. In order to raise the money groom's shoe is stolen. Here groom is trying to escape the steal.

Marriage Bed  Bride on arriving to the groom's house sits on a very elaborately prepared marriage bed called "saij".

Walima On day after marriage walima feast is given by the grooms family. 

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Replies to This Discussion

For me there seems to be a discrepancy between appearance and substance, between the well meaning public statement of promises over a day or a few days and long term fulfillment over a lifetime, where women get the short shrift.

You are totaly right in that respect. But one can't stop people from the show. I was only trying to show marriage rituals which have cultural roots in the past of the region. 

As for as poor condition of women in this region is concerned, being practically involved in some cases I have noticed following reasons behind heavy male dominance.

Religion based state property inheritance laws Women as daughters or wives can only inherit 1/8th part of the property of father or husband, which becomes so small that it is left in favour of males in 99% cases. Even if a man dies childless, his property goes to his cousins. Poor wife gets only 1/8th part. This propertyless position makes women vulnerable.

Economic dependance Most of women in this part of world are not educated enough to earn their own living. Being a dependent they lack any confidance to challange male dominance.

Religious and cultural value system Relgious and cultural value system is heavily in favour of male. In Islam a women disobedient to his husband can't enter the heavens(it has great effect in a heavily religious society). In this culture an obedient women is praiseworthy. Talking about evil of male dominance to a woman recently, I was amazed when she told me that she was the proud daughter of a woman who is praised in the society for doing very well in life inspite of very aggressive and poor conditions.

Doing practical feminist work here is very difficult. One even faces resistance and disliking of those whome he is working for. It is the most painful part of it.

Beautiful pictures! It looks wonderful and exotic to me, Amer! But the bride and groom - are they free to partake in the rituals or not? It's often the same with rituals: they can bind the community together but also smother the individual, so the pictures make me wonder what happens here...  Were you married in the same way? And how free were you? Forgive me for asking, but you mentioned your own unpleasant marriage a few times, so I connected the subjects. 


Chris, I was married in more old fashoned way with more rituals. Groom and bride are center of marraige. They are free to take part in most of activities.

Amer, I want to be very clear in what I say so there is no misunderstanding by anyone.
1. Cultural traditions hold important milestones for each culture and it empowers bonding of a people together in mutual memories and ceremonies. They offer rich ways of passing on to the next generation stories of trials and triumphs of their heritage.
2. Not all cultural traditions hold values to pass on. Some should be ended, not only when people come to USA, but in their own society. Of course ruthless care of elderly cannot be tolerated in this era. In ancient days, elderly posed a threat to survival and so did young and some traditions put them to death or abandoned them to the elements when they posed a burden. The history of USA cultural care of elderly is nothing for which to be proud. As a small child I visited a "Poor Farm" where old farmers went to die. Some of them never saw a relative again. I visited with my grandparents to their mother and the stench was awful. My great-grandmother was brought home, my grandmother cared for her and our family helped. Not all families work as a team to care for elderly and young.
3. If a family forgets their traditions and do not pass on the valuable ones, future generations lose an important part of their history. Remembering offers valuable milestones for care and compassion. Remembering challenges overcome gives future generations power to meet their challenges with courage. The violent parts need not be passed on.
4. As outsiders looking in on a Pakistani wedding offers opportunities to enrich our own lives. The intent is not to find fault or criticize, but to share our individually different life experiences. We can only be enriched by such sharing.

Amer, I feel great pleasure that you share your customs with me. You put trust in our hands and I hold that trust tenderly in my arms and heart. One hope I have is that if our tradition holds some practices that degrade another in our community, we will recognize it and do the thinking and take the actions necessary to make changes. If you see some things in your tradition that does not empower an individual to flourish, you, too, will think and act upon that awareness.

I thank you again Amer, for your generous and trusting sharing. May both our lives be enriched.

Being an educator, you have the power to change thinking toward flourishing of individuals and ultimately to change your culture in ways that can only lead to a better future for your coming generatons.

Joan, I am sorry I can't understand why we should stop enjoying our marriages if there are some cases of extreme poverty in an another country thousands of miles away from us. I even can't understand how comparison of a religious festival of another country and religion came into topic in the first place.

As for as respect and care of elderly is concerned, such comments and impression can be created only by a person who totaly have no knowledge about our society. Any person having a little insight of our society can understand that. Elders are much more cared and respected in our society than in most of developed world.

Problem with Googled knowledge is that people usually don't have any knowlege of the topic before and after a short period of time in which his fingers googled. It lacks any deep insight. 

"Problem with Googled knowledge is that people usually don't have any knowlege of the topic before and after a short period of time in which his fingers googled. It lacks any deep insight."

I have to say, Amer, that is one of the most profound and insightful statements I've heard in a long time.  It's very relevant concerning our current internet society.    

You are right, I learned cactus grafting through internet reading. In the beging it seemed that it was no problem, just a matter of combining the cambium rings  but it took me some years of both study and practical experience to understand the essence of grafting and doing it successfuly. If I would have copied its material from one page and pasted on another, I would have just an illusion that I know something about grafting.

I agree with your assessment and am eager to learn more about Amer and his history and life, but in a safe place where we can explore together. I appreciate your support of Amer in his criticism of Google. I hope Amer will want to remain in conversation. We can only benefit by understanding each other.

When you said

As for as respect and care of elderly is concerned, such comments and impression can be created only by a person who totaly have no knowledge about our society. Any person having a little insight of our society can understand that. Elders are much more cared and respected in our society than in most of developed world.

Problem with Googled knowledge is that people usually don't have any knowlege of the topic before and after a short period of time in which his fingers googled. It lacks any deep insight.

I assume that you are referring to Laura Spinney, the author of the National Geographic article  and the Indian sources she quotes. I'd read her article the day before I saw your discussion.

I didn't google "Pakistan marriage customs" or anything else on this topic.

There's a gigantic gap between explicit social values, such as respecting and caring for the elderly, and what actually happens on the ground everywhere, in every country. No country as a whole actually lives up to all of its ideals, though many individuals may. Even if it's true that elders are "much more cared and respected" in Pakistan than in most of the developed world, there are likely differences in the way elderly men and women are treated. I find it helpful to look at the negative as well as the positive in considering US customs.

As a feminist, I take particular concern for women. This is my bias. When I criticize US marriage customs, in the context of the overall lifetime welfare of women, for example, I find the heavy emphasis on wedding fantasy magazines, elaborate gowns, etc. masks a darker reality of uneven power in marriage. It's emotionally like a teaspoon of sugar to make nasty tasting medicine go down. Marriage shouldn't be nasty for any gender. No one should be scripted as lord over a submissive life partner. No partner should be treated as chattel. At least in the western world many elaborate wedding customs have historical origins to such things, such as "giving away the bride".

By looking at our traditions with a critical eye, without passing judgment on the people involved, we can learn and grow. If all atheists critically examine all customs, we are in a better position to find common ground to invent new customs more suited to a Climate Change world without gods.

Ruth, I agree with your perception about the wedding ceremony and its fantasy that little girls grow up wanting, not realizing the bitter life that follows for far too many women. The fact that women are battered by men they love in our own country, also happens to women in developed and developing countries. It simply has to stop! I like your courage in the way you stand up for freedom from violence against women. 

The first step in healing this cruel sore is acknowledgement of its occurrence. Then we can begin to build institutions of family, religion, non-religion, education, and social moral attitudes that empower individuas, men and women, young and old to flourish.

We, on this site, all have this goal in mind, I am sure. We can reveal our dirty little secrets and let the light of healing in. The citizens of my little home town will be furious with me for revealing our hidden customs; so, let's fling open the windows and doors and get on with making changes. Silence changed nothing for four generations that I know of. So, they can burn me in effigy; violent crimes against women must stop.  

Amer, the question isn’t “stop enjoying our marriages if there are some cases of extreme poverty”. It is examining the reasons some are very rich and some are very poor.

Nor is the question one of “comparison of a religious festival of another country”. The purpose of our sharing is to learn from each other, to find diverse ways of being in community. If we are sensitive and compassionate, we can recognize our differences without judgment or criticism. However, Atheist Nexus consists of people moving into a new paradigm of being and of being in relationship. Confusion, conflict and chaos occur during this move.

Because you are atheist, and our group is an atheist group, some may not be interested in ceremonies of others. That said, we could read and understand each other better by describing each of our realities.

I made an error in suggesting you post your story on this site. I understood you wanted to tell your story and that is why I suggested this site, there are so many more members here.

Please feel free to post on my site. It is my purpose to discuss attitudes, beliefs, customs, traditions and values so that we can be realistic and honest in our observations, and our preferences. It is a site that welcomes disagreement, even as we have to develop tough skins to participate. I have only 68 participants, but it gets lively sometime.

I am sure Sentient Biped welcomes your insights as well.

There is no reason you “should stop enjoying our marriages”. They are what they are. Some express differences of values on Atheist Nexus and that is OK by me. When it comes to wealth and poverty, there are underlying values we need to examine and forge a paradigm shift on the meaning of that gap, what causes it, are there other ways to exist? Is it possible to have an Earth of 7,100,592,626 human beings and not have extremes of wealth and poverty? A wedding is only a symptom, and like all symptoms, it gives a starting place for thinking in terms of probabilities, possibilities and preferabilities.

I am very happy to know your culture cares for its elders and makes provisions for their care until death. You quite correctly express your disdain for people “who totally have no knowledge about our society” would generalize from one country to another. USA has an incredibly poor history when it comes to care of our elderly. We have very little to brag about, and we are moving away from social security nets. In my opinion, we move in the wrong direction and I am doing all I can to convince others of my thinking.

Googling does not come with wisdom, experience, and sometimes poor fact checking or deep insight. Worse yet, is taking information from our various news sources thinking we understand the present situation. All we have to do is start reading history from the end of WWII and know the problems we have now have their roots in the political division of the world between USA, UK and USSR. We don’t dig deeply enough to understand the history of the Middle East and their roots in religious differences that create conflict.

Amer, my thinking is that we can compare, contrast, explore, examine, experiment what it means to be fully Homo sapiens on a planet Earth that has too many people for the natural resources needed to sustain healthy life. We make decisions based on practices of Stone Age people and use writings from the Bronze Age as our instruction manual. We now have the power to destroy all life, as we know it. Use of force and violence no longer can be our ways to solve complex problems. We need careful thought, vigorous discussion, thick skins, the ability to speak up, to stand on principles and courage. You have all these qualities, Amer, and you are part of finding solutions to very complex problems.

Joan! you are always a calming effect. You make me wise. I am thankful.




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