Desi people are notorious for their grand wedding affairs.
The weddings usually last for a minimum of three days. And all three of the events are just as grand as the next – if not more. This is probably why desi people are obsessed with the idea of their kid’s marriage ever since she or he is born. They need to start saving early because the kind of bill three huge events bring about is no joke!
For those that do not know, the three staple events at most Desi weddings are the mehndi, baraat, and walima.
The mehndi is where every single person in the family dances, and usually, the groom’s side and the bride’s side participate in fun events such as dance-offs. There is no winner or loser; but honestly, everyone there just knows who was better. The baraat is the event where the bride officially leaves her parents’ house to move in with her husband. And finally, the walima is the event in which the newly married couple are presented to the public as husband and wife for the first time.
Three events – multiplied by the enormous number of family and extended family members on each side – means a hefty bill. For decades, Desi parents have shelled out tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars for these three events.
In South Asian culture, having a big fat wedding is usually associated with honor and social standing in society. The mindset is that the bigger the wedding, the more well-respected you are in society. Weddings have become a spectacle of who wore what, who organized the event, how many different dishes were served, who showed up.
People compete with one another to see who had the bigger and better wedding.
However, the tide seems to be turning slowly.
Fortunately, there are those who recognize how big weddings cause unnecessary financial problems for the parents.
To curb the extreme pressure parents face in financing grand weddings for their children, Pakistan’s Supreme Court made a ruling that only one dish was to be served at wedding events in Punjab and the capital territory and that there should be no unnecessary decorations.
The law was passed in hopes of reducing the financial burden, unnecessary stress, and unhappiness surrounding weddings due to the extravagant and expensive traditions.
(Of course, the rich and famous have found loopholes in this ruling and still find ways to have lavish affairs. An example being of an infamous Pakistani wedding, which lasted more than a month and had events in Pakistan, as well as some in Turkey).
Fortunately, amongst this hubbub are those who recognize how big weddings cause unnecessary financial problems for the parents.
And thus, they choose to keep it simple and limit their celebration to one event: the Mashalima.
The word Mashalima is a mix of all three events; Mehndi + Shaadi (also called as Baraat) + Walima. The event has aspects of all three events mixed in. The elements included in the Mashalima include dancing from the mehndi, the rukhsati (departure of the bride to her new home) from the shaadi/baraat, and the reception element from the Walima.
And the best part?
The bill is usually divided by both the bride and grooms’ families.
The financial brunt is not borne by one side alone, which is usually the case with Desi weddings, for the bride’s family will usually end up paying for the mehndi and baraat.
The Desi wedding’s minimum of three events causes a lot of problems for parents. Financing such grand affairs is not easy, especially in this economic climate. One of the reasons the birth of a girl child is lamented in Desi cultures is because the family will need to bear a huge financial burden.
They have to pay, not only for her wedding but also a huge sum in terms of dowry.
So, wouldn’t it be easier if we make huge weddings which cause financial strain a thing of the past and instead bring in a new trend of Mashalimas – where both families bear the cost and the event is indeed a happy one for all!? All the money that is saved from only having one event can be used to start a new life together with the beloved.
Or if one feels like there might be someone else who needs that money more than him or her, one can donate the money to a charity instead.
Trust me, getting a new car or making a down payment for a home of your own as a newly married couple means much more after marriage than whose side did more dances at the mehndi and how much was spent on the fancy centerpieces that will collect dust in your attic.