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The wedding season: no extravagance is too great

The wedding season is here. Planeloads of Pakistani families are arriving in the country every day from all parts of the world. Temporary accommodations, which are now a very organized and flourishing trade, are doing a roaring business and charging exorbitant amounts which helpless seekers of such abodes are forced to pay. You will be surprised at the number and variety of guest houses available in Karachi and the rates starting from USD 18 a night to USD 128 a night.

In Karachi, upper class residential areas like Clifton and DHA have suddenly come to life. Here, there are a few houses in every area that are decorated with colourful lights and as the night approaches the smell of food being cooked mingles with the music emanating from these houses and the loud sounds of enjoyment and revelry which lasts well into the early hours of the morning sometimes upsetting neighbors and specially those who have not been invited and are doubly tortured by the smell of food and the sound of loud music. Every other day I notice complaints on social media about the late-night parties and how annoyed neighbors even call up the DHA enforcement cell for action to stop the partying but usually they express their inability to interfere with the advice to grin and bear it. It is also not unusual for these sessions to end on fireworks. This is really testing the patience of neighbours some of whom have retired to their beds ignoring the music but are awakened by the loud sounds of firecrackers overhead and can do nothing except to vent their feelings on social media.

Fashion designers are another addition to the wedding scene in Pakistan. Previously, it used to be the local tailor who would stich the wedding suits for both bride and groom from cloth provided by them but now it is a whole new ball game. Prices charged are mind boggling and can range from hundreds of thousands of rupees to millions of rupees. Yes, millions for a dress that will probably be worn only for a day. In the early days of Pakistan a wedding dress was handed down from mother to daughter and would be used again with necessary alterations. Those were the days of simplicity when only close relatives and friends who were considered part of the family were invited to weddings and only tea and dry fruits or snacks were served. If the host could afford lunch or dinner, it would be cooked right outside his house with the lane cordoned off and a tent pitched outside for the occasion. The smell of cooking food would waft down into neighboring houses whose inhabitants if invited would wait impatiently for the evening treat and if ignored wondered where did they go wrong. The menu at the weddings was also very simple. Standard menu included korma and pulao with zarda or kheer as the sweet dish. Not anymore. Now there is a long list of dishes which cater to every choice so the host makes sure there are all kinds of meat and different styles of cooking to please every taste.

Before I forget. The architect of the modern and elite wedding functions is what is commonly known as the event planner. He is the key first of all to determine a theme for the wedding and then to execute it. These are professional guys equipped with the latest gadgetry to demonstrate their previous achievements and if necessary invite the customer to an actual wedding which is blessed with their artistic talents. Yes they too charge an arm and a leg.

There can be several other players in a modern-day wedding in Karachi depending on the depth of your pockets. In some weddings prior to the actual event there are dance practice sessions and the more moneyed even hire dance instructors from Bollywood to come over and conduct these sessions for which there are obviously charges that could cost you a few millions. A ghazal evening with the most prominent ghazal singers of the sub-continent could set you back for another few millions but who really cares. Friends and family have arrived from the four corners of the world and must be entertained to take back memories they will cherish for a lifetime.

There are multiple wedding venues across the city to suit every pocket. The wedding halls in the densely populated lower middle-class areas like Korangi and then in the comparatively well off areas in Nazimabad and adjoining areas. For the upper classes the choice is mostly five-star hotels, private clubs and empty plots of land in DHA and Clifton. This is the wedding season in Karachi and the wedding venues are full, the markets are buzzing with customers and visitors from around the globe are enjoying our hospitality. Doesn’t look as if it is a nation even close to default.

Zia Ul Islam Zuberi, "The wedding season: no extravagance is too great," Business recorder. 2022-12-10.
Keywords: Pakistan-Economy , Wedding season , Fashion designers , Prices charged , Cooking please , Temporary accommodations , Pakistan , DHA

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