Thursday, August 23, 2007
Please curtail wedding festivities!

Sir: It’s one in the night and I have just returned from the first of many dinners being held as part of my nephew’s wedding festivities. I don’t know why Pakistanis have to waste so much time on wedding dinners. There are at least five gatherings where dinner is served, beginning with a religious sermon called “dars”, which does not mention the good habits of early Muslims (who always ate frugally and went to bed early). Guests at the “rukhsati” and the “valima” can number anywhere between 500 and 5000.

Contrast this with Imran Khan’s wedding in London in 1995. There were only a hundred guests present, yet newspapers described it as a “grand function.” I told my British friends about the scale of Pakistani weddings, where guests often exceed 1000 in number. They were amazed. “You call Pakistan a poor country?” one of them asked.

Unfortunately, one has to suffer the torture and force a smile throughout the ordeal. Even though the invitation card clearly states that dinner will be served at eight- thirty or nine, usually guests are kept waiting until midnight before they get to stuff themselves (turning cardiologists and caterers into millionaires overnight). If one is stupid enough to reach the venue at ten, even the host will not have arrived.