The Essence Of Time In Light Of Karachi’s Weddings

The other day my family had this wedding to attend. Typical of Karachi weddings everything happened at a dilatory pace. Most of the guests arrived after 11, the bride and groom didn’t make their grand entry before midnight and no question of dinner before the wee hours of the morning. Even if I leave aside the temptation to give a really lurid account of the punctuality practiced, it won’t be an exaggeration to suggest that if you’re invited to a wedding in Karachi, it’s unlikely you’ll go to bed before 1 in the morning (or multiples of 2 if it’s a close family wedding).

If you’ve lived in Karachi for any decent number of years, you’ll know this trend and accordingly will be familiar with process of “calculating” the most suitable time to arrive at a wedding function. Normally you just add two hours to the time mentioned on the invitation cards. But this formula, as we all learn time and again, is not a fool proof one. It never works for Memoni weddings for instance. No disrespect to our Memoni brothers and sisters, but they do seem, by self admission, a bit more ardent then everyone else in following Karachi’s “fashionably” late style.

Last summer I attended this one particular wedding of a Memon friend who invited me her self to arrive no sooner then 1:00 AM (the card program said the gathering would assemble at 9:00 PM “sharp”). As per the friend’s advice I arrived at 1 to still find a large majority of the hall empty, and the bride and groom missing. The rest of the tale is self explanatory and need not be narrated. For the fear of being impolite though I couldn’t quite muster the courage to ask my friend later on the precise point behind the misleading schedule on the invitation cards. But I wish wedding organizers were as considerate of the norms of courtesy for their poor old guests when designing their invitation cards and managing their events over all.

I’ve been to weddings in other Pakistani cities and while they weren’t by any means perfectly seasonable, in Lahore for instance, we did at least make it back to our hotels by around midnight. In Bahwalpur though, things were a complete contrast. Guests would arrive by Maghrib and dinner would be served latest by 9. Unless you were sitting around joking with the bride and groom’s families, there’s no way you’d have seen the clock strike 12. And at least one of the wedding functions would be held completely in the afternoon hours.

What I fail to understand then is why this can’t be replicated in Karachi on a consistent basis. A say on consistent basis because even in Karachi today you do have the odd wedding or two which is wrapped up by midnight, but those are exceptions rather then the norm. What the occurrence of these rare punctual weddings does suggest though is that this problem isn’t as much of a logistical one as it is one of attitudes. It’s understandable if you have an exceptional circumstance of bad traffic or weather inducing an unexpected delay, but in recent years, families have, for whatever reasons, just stopped trying to make things happen on time.

I really don’t know what the reason for this attitude shift is. It may be that women now require even more time in getting ready or that extensive photo shoots -without which weddings these days are seemingly incomplete- are the culprits. Or may its just that we’ve stopped viewing time as a precious commodity any more. There was a time not that long ago in Karachi’s history where it was the law for wedding lawns to shut down by 12, and where elders in a family would make sure everyone was ready by a certain time. Now it’s just doesn’t seem to bother anyone.

The more elitist the background of a family is the longer the wedding usually takes. Who cares if your guests will suffer from indigestion from eating so late, or that they’ll be late for work or school if the next day if isn’t a weekend, and who cares at all if there’s general inconvenience for them at large. At least we -the honorable hosts- will enjoy everything to the fullest. We’ll look like princesses under a ton of make up, we’ll have thousand different photos of us taken as proof, and we can always sleep till noon the next day, so the disturbance to the circadian rhythms won’t matter either.

I read some where that the way weddings take place in different societies says a lot about that society’s unique culture and idiosyncrasies. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that we chose to have our weddings so late. Indifference, after all, at the expense of principled pragmatism, is now an accepted trait in our culture. As Annie Dillard would say…

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

17 Comments so far

  1. Ahmed (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 7:12 pm

    We can change it. Its very easy! When you get married, make sure events take place at the stated time. You can either complain about it or do something yourself to fix the issue.


  2. Noori (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 7:27 pm

    Why don’t we change the time on invitation? Instead of inviting everybody at 9 PM, invite them at 11.59PM.


  3. Ahmed (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 7:37 pm

    Again, its VERY easy to do. Change things at your wedding or your kids weddings. It is not that hard. No point in low balling or setting the time at mid-night. BE PUNCTUAL!


  4. KhiTorPit (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

    Bechara dulha :(


  5. imran (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

    [edited out: off topic]

    @Zainub, you are compairing Apples with oranges by comparing Karachi with Bahawalpour(or whatever). Most of the weddings in Punjab occur in the afternoon so should we start doing that too?

    The biggest culprit of all these delays are videos and photos..these freakin photographers think that they are the movie director or something and they basically run the show rather than the family members..”aap yahan kharai rahiyai” “aap inkai saath aajaiyai” teen kadam kai baad ruk jayai” “pehlai app betahin aur aap kharai rahai”….what is all this BS>……….


  6. AH (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

    [edited out: response to previous junk message]

    As for the wedding issue, I agree with Ahmed. During my brother’s wedding both families agreed to serve dinner at 10:00 p.m. (still an hour later than on the invite) and did so. While we did catch some flak from those that came to the Valima late, we got more appreciation than not.


  7. ALAM (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

    @AHMED

    >>When you get married, make sure events take place at the stated time.


  8. Balma (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 8:56 pm

    [edited out: response to a previously edited out comment]

    The point was that if Farhat Auntie types and tablighi jamat types told their people to follow schedules and be punctual, we won’t have problems that we face now….such as people showing up late for wedding parties.

    [edited out: off topic]


  9. Sohail (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

    Guys, I made an example in my own wedding, Barat was little bit late not becouse of me but becouse of traffic jam at several places and we could not find any alternate route.
    Valima and Mahndi was on perfect time, as per stated in invitation card, our guest came at time becouse they know we are very punctual and i mentioned each and everyone to come on time, so by 11PM everybody was in and then we served dinner at 11:10PM, by 12 everybody was finished except very close relatives and family, then we had dinner and by 1AM we were at home.
    Wedding is very big event and you need somebody to control it accordingly. My father and mother including me, we controlled everything and on the other side out relatives knows too that we will do whatever we said. So this is not guest who do late, this is itself you who make late and blame to the guest.


  10. Syed Johny (unregistered) on September 14th, 2007 @ 3:47 am

    well dont blame the memons specially for it !!

    it is the problem of whole KArachi !
    The whole fun of wedding is damaged! Atleast I observed that we don’t even get time to meet people ! WE(Karachites) go to wedding at 11-12, at around 12-12:30 dinner is served ! and right after dinner every body leaves!! its like people go there just for having dinner!

    But there is a chance! after a very long time I saw a wedding that took on time ! bride and groom along with most relatives arrived around 9:30 (still late, very early as compared to others) and dinner was served around 11 !)!
    while on the other hand ! I also went to a wedding last year in which the baraat arrived at 1:30 ( no exaggeration ) most of the guests had left !
    and in the ceremony there were around 30-40 people left only !!!

    Looked like a total disaster to me!!!

    in conclusion ! we all are to be blamed ! atleast we individually should start going early ! so we will have a right to criticize others for coming late!


  11. Razi (unregistered) on September 14th, 2007 @ 4:10 am

    TIME=MONEY

    Waste of TIME= Waste of MONEY

    I have (and seen) heard so much about this alarming trend specially with regards to weddings in Karachi.The last time I was visiting and was invited to a few weddings, I made sure I had dinner at home before going there. I attended, greeted the couple and the respective families…met friends and returned home during sane hours.


  12. Tariq Khanani (unregistered) on September 14th, 2007 @ 8:08 am

    I am a memon and unfortunately i must admit (fact is fact right!) that memons have worked hard to promote this after midnight wedding culture. I’ve seen people reaching home after Rukhsati at Fajr time :s

    And the worst part, when dulha dulhan reach their new home lets say at 4 am, fireworks start and anyone can imagine what the residents of area are going through at that time.


  13. Tariq Khanani (unregistered) on September 14th, 2007 @ 8:09 am

    I am a memon and unfortunately i must admit (fact is fact right!) that memons have worked hard to promote this after midnight wedding culture. I’ve seen people reaching home after Rukhsati at Fajr time :s

    And the worst part, when dulha dulhan reach their new home lets say at 4 am, fireworks start and anyone can imagine what the residents of area are going through at that time.


  14. Murtaza (unregistered) on September 14th, 2007 @ 9:19 am

    Aren’t any bohras around :P …most Bohra weddings are quite punctual. Atleast the ones in the Jamaat khana, coz they start turning the lights off around midnight! close family ceremonies and dholkis/mehendies can take all night…but thats ok…dinner is served and people come and leave as they please.


  15. ELIZAMANTIN (unregistered) on September 14th, 2007 @ 6:30 pm

    I wonder when do newly-wed Memon couples get to celebrate their wedding night if they only manage to reach home in early morning? On the other hand, the newly-weds in the Punjab can have a long night all to themseleves for fun – lucky!


  16. Dil Dil Dil (unregistered) on September 15th, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

    @ELIZAMANTIN:
    in punjab people get married at late age so they need more time.

    an old guy once said:

    last nite it took me all nite to do what i used to do all nite.


  17. John (unregistered) on September 29th, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

    Thank you for bringing such nice posts. Your blog is always fascinating to read.



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