I am in the midst of wedding hungama ( craziness) my sister-in-law is getting married. Amongst the angst of what to wear and what to pack and the matching shoes, the menus and the favors & decorations- I feel like I am losing contact with Allah; salahs are read hurriedly because the tables needs to be set up and centerpieces are waiting for a final touch up. Monday fast are delayed because the abundance of food, scrumptious desserts and hospitality. My soul’s connection is shaky, interrupted by the many loved ones coming together from places far and near. I read the following story on Haq Islam, it brings me down to reality, May we remember Allah (SWT) in our festivities, in our happiness as we do in our sadness, Ameen.
A pious man relates that in one of my journeys I once saw a young Bedouin girl.
“Where do you stay?” I enquired
“The jungle”, she replied.
“Do you not feel lonely?” I asked curiously.
She answered, “Oh Shaykh, one who befriends Allah and keeps His company can never be lonely”.
I asked, “Where do you eat?”
She replied, “Allah knows best from where He provides for His creation. He gives it to those who believe in Him”.
Then she went on to say, “The hearts that are alive with the recognition of Allah’s oneness and have relented to His love, their food is the love of Allah and His Company”.
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Posted in Entertaining, Pakistani, Uncategorized, tagged culture, Entertaining, henna, identity, mehndi party, Muslim, Pakistani, weddings on June 26, 2010|
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I just wasted 4 hours of my life. Invited to a henna (mehndi) party. Got all dressed up thinking it would be ladies event. my bad. Next time I am going to pull on my abaya over my pjs.
The decor was lovely- that I was enjoying along with the yummy appetizers; until I got a preview of the belly dancers’ decolletage in the ladies room. Why do people invite people like me to these things anyway? Felt like such a prissy goody two shoes excusing myself with the lovely hostess because I felt ‘uncomfortable’. She was so sweet wanted us to stay for dinner- so I gathered my girls & a friend’s teenager and headed to the newest ice cream shop in town called SHAVE IT, promising her we will be back in time for dinner.
The whole ‘show’ was for the viewing pleasure of the few dozen white guests, to introduce them to the groom’s Egyptian and bride’s Pakistani heritage. The groom’s family sat in a corner miffed, not exactly thrilled by the Diane of Belly Dancers Unlimited’s hijack of their culture.
Three or four Pakistani women were on the lit dance floor in an otherwise dark room, when I wandered in 45 minutes later, dancing as if to prove something, nothing joyous or spontaneous about their moves. No men up there with them; they were busy staring hungrily from the sidelines.
The invitation said 6 o’clock so naturally most of the non-desis showed up at 6:00. Dinner wasn’t served until 10:00. Feeding the non-desi guests on time would have served our culture better. Dinner before the dancing starts always; this way guests who do not want to be ‘entertained’ can leave without rejecting the hospitality of the host.
I really have to ponder what we are trying to prove about our culture after I examined the dancer’s brochure left on the entrance, next to the rose petals and the dripping ruby-red candles. Clad in Hollywood inspired harem costumes with angel wings ‘veils’, a superstar dance troupe, not one of them Arab or South Asian. The all male bhangra act also hired for the night were fully covered; why is it always the women who have to expose their bodies to entertain?
Was the henna ceremony itself not enough culture, the aroma of the mehndi and oil rubbed on to the bride’s hands. The mithai (sweets) in an antique silver bowl, placed lovingly or playfully in the bride’s mouth, depending on who is feeding her. The rose & jasmine jewellery and garlands fashioned by hand, the bangles placed by every dinner plate. Why do we HAVE to dilute our identities? Give them an authentic Pakistani or Egyptian experience, it is enough. We have such an inferiority complex!
At my sis-in loves (inlaws) wedding, we had more than 200 non-desis attend. The beauty of our simple nikaah ceremony, the grand arrival of the barat, the greeting & feeding of the guests, the recitation of the quran, the poetry reading by my husband’s grandfather, including Allah in the celebration of a new life left many of them marveling at the grace in our faith & culture.
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