I know I threw a wall of text at you in my previous post about Courtship and Marriage in Pakistan. I promise that the next few posts will have more photos. And will be a lot more colorful at that!
So here we are. Planning has been done, the dates have been set. The families have now spent a few weeks (or even a few months!) shopping for clothes, gifts, jewelry and booking wedding halls. With just a few weeks to go before the wedding, its time to start having fun! The Dholki and the Mayoon are events meant to get the family into the ‘mood’ of weddings. Singing, dancing, and all round having fun!
It should be noted that according to Islam, the only parts of marriage mentioned in Islam are the Nikah and the wedding feast (Walima). The rest of the events that will be described are cultural additions brought over from Pakistan’s roots as a Hindu culture. That is not to say they are wrong Islamically, they just won’t translate into other Muslim cultures!
The additional customs in Pakistani weddings are called Rasms. A rasm can be a complete event, such as the Rasm-e-Henna or the Mehendi celebrations (next post), or it could be a small act, such as the Joota Churai (shoe stealing) during the wedding.
You know when you just feel like partying and want to make it sound really cultural? Well that’s what a dholki is. Nothing really happens at dholkis. You just hang out and have fun. Traditionally, weeks before the wedding, the women would gather at the bride’s house to sing (and dance) the night away. Recently however, it is not uncommon for men to take part (who will usually dance rather than sing, but you never know!). The groom sometimes also make an appearance.
There will usually be several dholkis, for family, for friends and so on to start to get every body into the mood of weddings. Usually formal events like the Mayoon will be followed by Dholkis for a bit of fun. There’s no real rules or requirements or customs here. Just have fun!
Sometimes also known as the Ubtan day, the Mayoon (pronounced with a silent ‘n’ but a very nasal ‘oo’ sound) marks the point where the wedding customs begin. Traditionally celebrated 8-15 days before the wedding day, it marks the day when the bride is made free from her duties at home and enters a state of seclusion during which she may no longer see the groom until the Wedding.
The Mayoon is usually celebrated at the bride’s house and is attended by her close friends and family (in Pakistan ‘close family’ can easily mean scores of people). The bride dresses up in a simple yellow Shalwar Kameez, and must remain in yellow clothing until the Mehendi day.
Once the formalities are over (i.e. the groom’s family leaves), all hell breaks loose. Since the Mayoon is usually the first time the entire family has been gathered in one place (since the last wedding), some crazy fun customs have been born. Apart from the usual dancing and other craziness, some families take things to a whole different level!
Remember when you were 7 and found the sound mud makes when it hits the pavement enormously satisfying? That’s what this is all about. You grab yourself a handful of ubtan and run after other people in your house hoping for a satisfying splat when it hits their faces. At some point people start flinging the stuff around which is bad for cameras ;P Noone is safe so wear expendable clothes. And be ready to wash the walls tomorrow. My dad’s family follows this one.
This tradition-common on my mother’s side of the family has all the women packed into the kitchen cooking ‘Gulgulay’, a deep-fried sweet. This goes on all night so bring an appetite! Also if you don’t eat, prepare to have uncles and cousins force-feed you. I do think however that this and the Ubtan fight can’t be done at the same time ;P
Think you’ll save yourself from a lot of trouble if you fall asleep? Think again! Anybody passing out before sunrise will be publicly humiliated. Soot from the stove is taken and rubbed all over the transgressor’s face. Yes, this is Paskistan’s answer to hangover sharpie photos. We just do it without the booze ;P
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