NOTES FROM THE OVERGROUND: BLING IS KING

September 17, 2017

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It can be said with quiet confidence that Karachi weddings have surpassed the Kardashians in their pomp and glory. And that is no idle boast. Witness the pretensions of grandeur of even those whose budget is stretched to the maximum, but then who wants to spend in a rational manner? They would rather take loans and scrape together whatever possible to give others a good time, because that is what it boils down to. It’s all about ensuring that guests are shocked and awed by the display of wedding finery even if the years after are ridden with anxiety and overwork for the parents. After the bills are finally paid, there is no time to rest because now it’s the turn of the second progeny to get married.

There was a time when Lahore surpassed Karachi in grandiose weddings while Karachiites chuckled over the glitz and glitter and OTT (over the top) presents showered on the bridal couple by their doting parents. But how can Karachi be left behind? Bling is in here, in case you didn’t know, and weddings showcase it admirably.

At a recent wedding reception, it was difficult to figure out who the bride was because many of the guests looked bride-like with glittery outfits fitted corset-like over toned bodies. There were little girls alongside their mothers dressed in heavy tissue frocks, sparkly tiaras, French braided hair and sulky expressions.

The wedding season is another way of saying ‘Too much is not enough’

One must empathise with the bride who braves stiff competition from her friends and young-at-heart relatives who insist on decking up like a Christmas tree, humidity be damned. Being embraced by askew blow-dried hair, careening bouffants and perfumed heaving, sweating bosoms is the new normal, because why would you dress sensibly in light clothing instead of organza and tissue embossed with soul-deadening embroidery topped off with dog collars parading as necklaces?

 In the lead up to the wedding, dholkis are a must, that too every night. So what if you sit through the same dances night after night until you are humming them in your nightmares — it’s called being part of a big happy family even if you know you see them only on Eid. Going to a mehndi gives one yet another opportunity to dress to the nines and impress all and sundry. The venue looks like out of a fairy tale — lavishly decorated stage festooned with flowers, twinkling lights, lanterns hanging above, et al. Mehndi functions invariably start late and continue into the wee hours of the night, songs blaring into the night air.

Naturally the family and friends cannot be entrusted to come up with enjoyable dances so wedding choreographers are in great demand. Charging upwards of a hundred thousand rupees, they motivate ordinary people to become extraordinary for that one night. In their minds. They milk their moments on stage as they strut to raucous Indian songs of a few seconds’ duration which jump from one number to the next with dizzying speed. Boys with slicked hair, dressed in shalwar kameez and lehnga-clad girls jumping jack and gyrate from one dance to another. The pedestal fans are stationed at strategic points, the point being to prevent any air from reaching the guests who are melting like kulfi. Food being the only attraction left for the captive guests, they cast longing glances at the covered dishes on the tables manned by grim waiters guarding Fort Knox. Alas, the hopes of the ravenous guests are dashed because dinner is not served until past midnight, because who would watch the 35 dances then? Food vs zombie dances... take your pick.               

There was a time when Lahore surpassed Karachi in grandiose weddings with Karachiites chuckling over the glitz and glitter and OTT (over the top) presents showered on the bridal couple by their doting parents. But how can Karachi be left behind? Bling is in here, in case you didn’t know, and weddings showcase it admirably.

 Going by Islamic principles, nikah is defined as a simple sombre ceremony when the bride and groom give their consent for marriage. But one really needs an excuse to dress up, right? So the nikah now sees the younger lot donning new-fangled ghararas that older ladies shudder over because they are not cut in the UP style, and “these ghararas show the shape of your legs. Tauba! They are an insult to ghararas.”

 Where you sit is of paramount importance at a nikah, because there is not much else to do but to sit and stare at each other while the maulvi is droning on. It is actually the best time to show off your painstakingly compiled clothes and elaborate hairstyles. Did you say “again”? Tsk tsk, every new day is a birth, as Deepak Chopraesque spiritual gurus say. So every wedding function is a rebirth, like a Snapchat video. And as ephemeral. Rise and shine.

The columnist is a freelance writer.
She tweets @MaheenUsmani
Email: maheenusmani25@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, EOS, September 17th, 2017