‘Oh god— Is she laughing with him?’ There was no mistaking the potent, unadulterated horror in the woman’s voice. Her stage whisper carried to my eavesdropping ears, and I did not need to look over my shoulder to see the comical expression that contorted her features. ‘Girls these days,’ she muttered, distressed, ‘no shame!’ I tend to listen to Aunty Commentary as one watches sitcoms: for the comedy. And wedding season is prime time.
I am no stranger to the fact that it seems to be an integral part of Pakistani culture to poke our noses in everyone’s (and their grandmothers’) business. To fight it would be an exercise in futility.It seems to be an integral part of Pakistani culture to poke our noses in everyone's business. Click To Tweet
Imagine my surprise, then, when a handful of days later, upon relaying the event to my mother and grandmother over a hot cup of chai, I felt a surge of unmistakable irritation swell within me. Suddenly, it wasn’t funny anymore. It was just judgment that I did not understand or like one bit. Questions began to swirl in my mind. Since when had it become a criminal offense to express joy? How did laughter translate into shamelessness? It was her wedding, and she was married to the man sitting beside her. She had invited this woman to come celebrate their union with them. When did our society start dictating what a bride was supposed to do at her wedding – how it was proper for her to act, where she ought to look, and whether she was allowed to laugh?
The need for a Desi bride to act shy is about as mandatory as wearing a white dress, the symbol of a virgin bride, to a Western wedding. Upon really thinking about it, does it not strike you as completely preposterous? Every bride has their own personality and life experiences, and they should not feel ashamed of them on their wedding day. How could it be possible for the same standard for what is appropriate to apply to all of them?Expecting a Desi bride to be shy on her wedding day is preposterous. Click To Tweet
Since this incident, I’ve wondered more and more exactly who these weddings are for. And moreover, what are the people who come to them there for? Seated on one side of the hall they declare which party’s side they have been invited by. They relish in the food and make sure to eat as though the world will end when the wedding does. But have people forgotten why weddings exist in the first place.
So many of us flock to these events dressed to the nines and along the way we lose sight of what’s important. We comment on the decor, what the wedding party and guests are wearing, and anything else that can easily be picked out and scrutinized. But no matter what the wedding looks like, it remains an event to honor the union of two people and celebrate the beginning of their lives together; to wish them love and luck.Weddings are meant to celebrate the union of two people. Click To Tweet
It is something beautiful, a little bit magical, and worth cherishing. Not something to judge, or limit, or tear apart for the night’s entertainment.
As the saying goes: it’s her party, and she can laugh if she wants to!