Friday, November 05, 2004

No wedding food for you! And: the Freedom to be Frivolous

BBC says the Pakistani courts have reviewed and upheld a ban on food at weddings, on the grounds that it is anti-Islamic. Well, to be more exact:

The court ruled the ban was not against Islamic teachings and should remain in force as it discourages extravagant displays of wealth. The ban on serving food at wedding functions held in public places was imposed by the government in 1997. In practice, it is largely ignored as technically it only permits the serving of tea or soft drinks.

To be fair, they have a point that South Asians put an inordinate amount of money into weddings. But banning food "for your own good" seems like a parody of totalitarian thinking.

(A little like starting preemptive wars to "spread democracy.")

For Pakistan's Supreme Court, it's all part of de-Hinduization:

The Supreme Court also described the practice of giving dowry by the bride's family as an evil and exploitative custom, and said the state should do everything to stop it.

The court bench then went a step further to criticise some of the most popular customs linked to South Asian weddings, including the colourful rituals of mayun and mehndi (where the bride is decorated and prepared for the wedding) and baraat (a procession by the groom's friends and family to the bride's house), which are dominated by dance and music.

The bench said these customs and even the giving of large dowries were all of Hindu origin and have nothing to do with the Islamic concept of marriage.

I'm with them on Dowry. But Baraat? Mehndi? These are fun customs; people should be allowed to practice them if they want to. Pakistan is perilously close to banning enjoyment itself because of its possible contamination by Hindu "culture."

Maybe they get rid of some rubbish in the process of making all these restrictions. Wedding culture is sometimes pretty frivolous. For instance, it's a little ridic. to dance for six hours on the street celebrating the marriage of a distant cousin one (sometimes) barely knows, who is sitting uncomfortably on a horse, while a band of profoundly underpaid horn-players tries to do a very un-funky version of "Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe."

But what else is freedom but the right to be as frivolous as one wants?


dan said...

very good post.. lots of "interesting" information... I am from african so we have differing views on weddings and food as well so I did find this post very cool.. hopefully many others will read and reply to this as well.

3:21 PM  

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