Weddings are normally a huge and expensive affair. In Switzerland, a normal wedding has between 50 and 100 guests. In Malaysia, it is common for there to be over 1000 guests at a wedding. About 6000 people attended my sister’s wedding in Pakistan over a course of 3 days in 2009.
The number of animals slaughtered to feed this absurd number of guests were 3 buffaloes, 10 goats and 200 chickens.
There were 3 chefs using 10 giant pots cooking non-stop from sunrise till sunset.
Don’t we just love the wood burning stoves?
When my sister announced that she was going to get married in Pakistan, I couldn’t have been more excited to finally visit a new part of the world!
I met my soon-to-be brother-in-law for the first time at the airport in Doha from where we took the plane together to Islamabad. It was then a 3 hour drive to get to Dag beh sud, the village he grew up in near Nowshera which is in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan.
Dag Beh Sud:
Women there cover themselves up very well when leaving their homes. My sister had prepared some shalwar khameez for me to wear during my stay there.
The family home of my brother-in-law in the village was basic although luxurious compared to many others: a main one-story brick home with a huge courtyard and a second little house which was built just for my sister on the corner.
They even have some animals in one corner. My sister-in-law Zakiya was milking the buffalo in the picture below.
I remember feeling like I was a character in “The Kite Runner” when seeing the village boys jumping from the roof of one home to another cutting each others’ kites – their favourite sport/playtime.
Below was the entrance to one of the local schools I passed.
I took a bus to Lahore to spend time with my sister who was teaching at a school in Lahore at the time. I got quite a shock when arriving into this bustling city with lots of traffic as there were policemen capturing someone on the streets right next to where our bus stopped.
The “hen party” thrown for my sister by her work colleagues which I attended was a colourful and festive night at a friend’s home.
We managed to do some sightseeing in Lahore including its most famous monument, the Badshahi mosque below built in 1671.
The Lahore Fort which has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1981 was also on our itinerary. The stairs in the picture below were built to accommodate royals mounted on elephants.
The Shish Mahal or known as the Palace of Mirrors must have looked amazing in the past. When we visited it looked like it was in dire need of restoration.
We also visited Peshawar, the capital of the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a city of about 1.8 million people. I remember there being many old Korean buses as well as donkey carts.
There were men selling carpets
and of course one could see the colourful trucks throughout the entire country.
We also saw men selling all kinds of things by the roadside: from pillows
to nuts and even chickens.
Finally the wedding day arrived. The 3 day event started with the nikh where my sister wore a white traditional Malay costume called baju kurung.
Then came the mehndi where she wore a different outfit as in the picture with her father-in-law below.
Mehndi is the henna ceremony.
On Saturday morning we got ready for the event called “Baraat” which is a procession where the bride is traditionally donned in red. Doesn’t she look like a movie star?!
The groom makes his way to pick up the bride from “her house”.
The bride is then whisked to her new home where she is lifted onto the men’s shoulders and carried in the douleh which is a cute wooden casket.
Here she is getting a kiss from our dad.
And the celebration begins!
There was constant music and dancing throughout the day.
The final day is the walimah, the largest event with more village people and guests from outside attending. My sister wore a beautiful white outfit on this day.
Have you been to a wedding in Pakistan before? Was it similar to what I described above? I would love to hear your thoughts!