Here’s how to get married in Pakistan

Written by Faiza Rizvi 

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind whenever you think of a wedding?

I am not going to lie! For me, it’s always the food. Yeah, talk about priorities!

It’s not just me, though. In Pakistan, most people are excited to attend a wedding to eat delicious food and desserts. In general, that’s what desi weddings are famous for. But, but. There’s more to it, of course.

Stay with me to know how people get married in Pakistan and what different traditions they follow.

What Happens in a Traditional Pakistani Wedding?

A wedding in Pakistan is like having a full-fleshed holiday, especially if you are close to the Bride or Groom. You can’t expect to get done with it in a single day. There are many functions to attend, which means you have to prepare for different themes and dresses beforehand.

Pre-Wedding Celebrations 

Let’s get started with our pre-wedding celebrations!

Dholki

The wedding season usually starts with a dholki. Relatives and friends sit in a circle and sing songs together with a big dholak( drum) in between. It’s a small gathering with close relatives and friends only.

Mayoun (Uptan day) 

Pre-wedding celebrations

Next, we have mayoun on our list. It is festive to pamper the bride with a magical skincare product, ubtan.

Wondering what uptan is? Well, it’s a powdered mixture of turmeric-gram, chickpea flour, and herbs. You have to add water to make a thick paste, and voila, your beauty mixture is ready.

Moving on, 

People apply ubtan paste on the face, hands, and legs of the bride-to-be turn by turn. Mostly, the bride has to wear a simple, yellow dress as per the tradition.

Henna / Mehendi Night

Mehndi (henna) Night 

Ask any desi aunty; there is no wedding without applying mehndi on hands and feet of women, as it symbolizes love, goodwill, and joy.  Also, there are special intricate bridal patterns that aren’t easy to draw using a mehndi cone. This is why you may prefer professional mehndi designers to do the job. The bride’s mehndi is a bit elaborated from the rest of the women crowd, so she can stand out and shine.

The Wedding Day (Nikkah) 

Wedding/Nikkah

This day is by far the most awaited one among all others because this is the main event of the wedding itself. The bride and Groom look forward to starting a new life officially. After Nikkah (A marriage contract that binds the love birds together), the guests pray for their happy marriage and feast upon the delicious food. This is a rather formal function and is considered a symbol of the connection between two families, so you won’t be expecting songs and dances. Not to forget, the guests are wearing quite fancy clothes so dancing in them isn’t an option anyway.

Post-Wedding Celebrations  

Now that it’s official, the newlywed couple is the center of attention for everyone.

Let’s see what’s next in our desi (Pakistani) wedding culture.

Reception 
Valima, also known as reception, is the main after-event of the wedding season, hosted by the Groom. Again, it’s a formal celebration where relatives congratulate the couple for their new beginning and enjoy a casual dinner together. Most couples prefer to keep things simpler by celebrating their special moment with charity.

Dinner Invitations 
The wedding is followed by a bunch of dinner invitations by close relatives, which is a way of expressing happiness and showering the couple with love.

Honeymoon 
The post-wedding celebration exclusive to the newlywed couple, as we all know, is the honeymoon. The bride and the Groom usually choose a comforting and peaceful place to spend some quality time together, free of all the worries. The Groom usually applies for leaves from his workplace to spend time with the bride so that she feels special and loved.

Different Traditions People Follow 

Up till now, we only gave a general overview of what happens in a desi, Pakistani wedding. But as we start observing the wedding bells in different regions, the events keep on adding with different traditions and practices.

To give a clear picture, I will break down the unique traditions people follow in different regions of Pakistan.

Rice Cleaning Ceremony in Baluchistan 

For instance, the Rice cleaning ceremony is held a day before the main event in Baluchistan, where all the relatives gather and enjoy each other’s presence.

They discuss the plan for the big day, and together they clean the rice, which is used in preparing dishes for the wedding. This gives a feeling of unity and wellbeing for everyone.

Qilla in Baluchistan 

Another traditional ritual that’s followed in Baluchistan is called Qilla, where the bride sits in the room and gets pampered with her favorite food. The Qilla starts two days before the day of Mehendi. She spends her time in absolute peace, and as the Qilla ends, the Groom’s family visits her house in the evening to give fresh Mehendi cones.

Ketwa Dish of Haripur 

The Famous Haripur’s Ketwa has been a tradition for many years, and here is a reason behind it! The dish takes hours to cook in small clay pots and is the only dish in the Mehendi event. The best thing about this ritual is that the guys have to cook, whereas the girls are off to pampering themselves.

Waagparhai in Punjab 

WaagParhai is one of the sweetest rituals in Punjabi weddings, where the sisters block the Groom’s way to the bride unless and until they get what they ask for. You see, the Groom doesn’t get a freeway until he meets the high demands of the bride’s sisters and cousins. This tradition is quite fun, especially if you are from the girl’s side.

Walwar in Peshawer 

In this tradition, the Groom’s family gives some money to the bride’s family to ease the financial burden while preparing for the wedding. Both families decide the amount at the time of engagement. Mostly, the Groom gives the money right away while the rest is deferred till the wedding day. It’s a thoughtful ritual to mock the dowry culture.

The house-stay Culture of Gilgit-Baltistan 

Close relatives come to stay in the Groom’s and bride’s house four days before the wedding. So hosting a wedding ceremony in Gilgit-Baltistan means you have to make prior arrangements for the guests.

What kind of arrangement am I talking about? Well, you have to take care of accommodation and meals. This beautiful ritual is called Daave Washiyash, in which meat is the main ingredient for both lunch and dinner. As for breakfast, lighter meals like Qista or Khamali (Bread) is served with Maltas (Butter) and Tan Boom Chai (A strong milk tea).

Let’s Recap!

These are the most common traditions and events you can expect to see in Pakistan’s wedding season. However, people now prefer the idea of having a simple wedding, with fewer functions and expenditure. Follow the traditions you like, and make the most of your big day!