In another group when I told friends about occasions like someone's death or marriage in Pakistani society they barely believed me, so I thought of covering marriage of a relative recently held.
GANA traditionally a band with hanging strips named "gana" is bound to groom's wrist in a ceremony a weak or so prior to the marriage day which officially marks the beginning of marriage. Groom wears gana upto marriage night until it is removed by his bride at wedding night.(though in this case groom refused to wear it for so long). It got to do something with good luck because people also hang "gana" to their newly contructed houses too.
After that day both men and women of the village gather every evening in the bride's and groom's houses where they sing traditional songs and perform dances.
Shaker Marriage friends are officially announced(called sambalas). Groom along with friends visits one friend's houses per evening prior to the marriage where they are offered tea and sweets. Friend's family give a tray of sweets and cloth of a dress to the groom as present on the occasion.
Mehndi two days prior to marriage mehndi ceremony is held in the evening. Both bride and groom are applied mehndi(a skin coloring extract of Hina plant). Women usually wear green or yellow on the occasion(resembling color of plant or the extract). Other participants mostly women also apply mehndi on their hands.
Daaj Both bride and groom's families put wedding cloths, jewelry and other things prepared for the marriage on beds and women of village are properly invited to have a look on them a day prior to the marriage. This occasion is named as "daaj".
Ghroli marriage day starts with a ceremony named ghroli(pitcher) in which grooms sisters and relative women go singing to the village common well to fetch water. Pitcher keep on shifting the heads of women relative to the groom. In the end groom bring it down from a sister's head and pay her some money for the effort.
Sehra Bandi Then groom changes and ride on a horse back. His sisters feed his marriage horse. If marriage is in the same village then groom rides his way to the bride's house. But in case of distant marriage it is just a ride to local shrine and grave yard. On the way people stand in front of their gates having a glass of milk in their hands which is offered to the groom. After drinking it he puts some money in the empty glasses.
On the marriage day groom visits graves of his close relatives. In this case a sad moment because of father's absence on the marriage day.
Marriage ceremony takes place in bride's house. In this case in a marriage hall accompanied with several rituals. I will not go in details of that but it is a grand affair involving several hundred people from both sides.
Broom is given a glass of milk by bride's sister for which he got to pay. In order to raise the money groom's shoe is stolen. Here groom is trying to escape the steal.
Marriage Bed Bride on arriving to the groom's house sits on a very elaborately prepared marriage bed called "saij".
Walima On day after marriage walima feast is given by the grooms family.
Amer, I am so grateful for you and your willingness to share your story. I know it is not easy to read criticism or comments that may or may not be true. That is where the tough skin comes in. Being an educator, you have the power to make a difference in your community ... and I think ... in the world.
Customs that empower an individua to flourish are treasures worth keeping. Customs that keep people in their place under someone else or under some institutional boot, need to be challenged and changed.
It requires thought, conviction, stamina, courage, and all those good things you already have. I can imagine you using your fine skills to empower others to flourish. You are doing it all ready.
Joan you said, "I made an error in suggesting you post your story on this site." If by "this site" you mean Hang With Friends, amer's discussion topic is fine. While marriage customs intersect many topics such as culture, religion, and politics, our group is a good place to talk about things which are outside of other group topics. Nor are we expected to all agree on everything, as long as we're civil, which everyone here has been.
Amer, in my family, it was not uncommon for men to have mistresses, even as they had wives at home who bore one child after another and very close together. Most women of my grandmother's era stopped having children after five or six and I asked why that was. One told me she stopped having sex after the fifth child. Tensions in her household were high and I thought it was because my grandfather had a mistress. Looking back, I think the mistress was a relief to grandma. The tension was she had full responsibility of raising their children by herself because he was always at the "Smoke Shop". Asking my other grandmother, I received the same answers and for the same reasons.
I wonder what both sets of grandparents lives would have been like if they had family planning, if they limited their children to as many as they could afford, and there were no third party intruding into their lives.
I come from a small town and everyone knew everything about everyone. One of the social gatherings was quilt making. Women of the village gathered in my grandmother's living room where a huge wooden frame was pulled up to the ceiling for storage and dropped down when they worked on patch work quilts. They chattered endlessly, I suppose like in the old days when women gathered at the well to get water and news. Their chatter implied to me some commonalities: they all had more children than they could care for, all the husbands spent time at the "Smoke Shop", and when the wives became tired or ill or frustrated they would complain and get a very hard slap, if not a beating. I remember a lot of black eyes, bruised arms, and weeping and wailing. Nothing ever changed for any of them until they were dead and buried.
For my mother's generation, the Great Depression was coming to an end, WWII was building up, until all the men, except for a very few who farmed or worked in the grain elevators, went to war or went to construction jobs to build air fields and military bases around the world. My father and all but one of my uncles left; women took over the businesses, shops, banking, and provided goods and services to our community. Many women moved to the cities to work in factories or fill positions vacated by absent men gone to war. They didn't have the pill yet, but these women had much smaller families. After the war, they wanted to become homemakers but inflation made it impossible. Women started going to work for wages, My mother and many others returned to school for professional training. Returning soldiers wanted their wives doing their domestic work and do paid work as they could. It didn't take long for working mothers wearing out from the double load. An old tradition remained alive in the culture. Whine and complain, take a beating, forgive, and repeat and repeat and repeat. Husbands wanting stay-at home wives and frustrated when dinner wasn't ready or clothes weren't clean and they would turn to the method of control they learned from their fathers. Unresolved conflict remained, ancient methods of dealing with frustration remained.
My generation is the generation of the pill and of paid work for women and shared work with fathers. Husbands tried to use beatings to regain control over wives and wives said "NO". We simply left, finding no benefit in marriage. In fact, it is a barrier to happiness and health for many women. Dependent women need marriage; independent women don't chose it out of need, but out of desire for companionship.
We enter a new era. What of the old traditions are worthy of carrying forward and which should be dropped. Perhaps family life will strengthen, at least that is what is happening in my children's generation. Their families seem to work as teams, not as master and slaves. Children seem happier, doing very well at the hard sciences and I enjoy learning from them. "Great-grandchild, help me figure out this computer, please!"
From my perspective, life is getting far better for women ... and I hope for men.
Joan, some 20 years ago preparing an exam I took US history as a subject. Though I never took the exam but I had a handful of readings of American writers on US history. I have some idea of how modren America came into being and its society.
You are right it were the world wars which transformed woman status in US and Europe. Once women are economically independent, shakals of male dominance are broken. Unfortunatly nothing of sort took place here in our society. I too was a vocal and emotional feminist. You would be surprised to know that it were the women themseves who rejected and argued against my point of veiw of cruelity of male dominance. After years of such experiences I came to conclusion that lack of economic indipendance deprived them of confidance. They consider males as their protectors. Anybody talking against their protector seems to be an enemy.
Now I employ women only in my institution because there are many others who readily take males. In this way at least some of them can enjoy the financial confidance to challage the male supremacy. But it is like a drop in the occian. It will change centuries to change the evil cuture of male dominance. Unfortunatly there is no other way out.
My "Reply" button does not always work and my response to your comment may not be close to yours.
Amer, I know you are a feminist, and work to improve lives of women. I also know women resist change from domination and even abuse and it is difficult to understand why they become their own worst enemy. I found that true in my programs dealing with domestic violence. Some women don't want to take responsibility for their own safety and flourishing, some can't even think in terms of independence or interdependence, some fear they will fail and become "bag ladies" living on the street. I had those fear myself when I ran from an abusive home. Growing up with abuse, I didn't want my children growing up with that experience. It was tough on them because we left wealth and social standing. I could only work at minimum wage jobs tending tables in a restaurant until I completed my training, which took eight years. I did move up in job responsibility and earnings along the way, but it would not have happened if I had not decided to get an education.
My former husband and my parents and in-laws were my worst challenges, but I can say now that all the struggle was worth it ... and it couldn't have been done if I hadn't had a powerful support system of women and men who were not family. I couldn't even get a bank loan without the signature of my former husband or father, except for a enlightened man who understood my struggle and co-signed for me. Of course I paid back every cent with interest.
You face a much more difficult job empowering women. The women themselves, the institutions of your culture, including families, history, education, and resources to help lift them up, all these factors make it difficult.
Women you employ are a beginning. You offer women a chance to think, plan, organize, dream a little, and their seed will spread. I hope it doesn't take the funeral of all resisters before your culture is transformed. No one suffers with the independence of women ... some may not have all the privileges they once had ... but even men benefit by women functioning as full partners with men.
I respect you, Amer, and am glad you posted on this site. Very bright people read and respond to Ruth's fine postings. You belong here; you add to our understanding; you inspire us to speak frankly, openly, honestly, even when sometimes truth hurts. Truth doesn't harm if spoken by caring, compassionate people. You can also speak from your heart and you will be heard.
some fear they will fail and become "bag ladies" living on the street. I had those fear myself when I ran from an abusive home.
Joan, I know what you did looks easy in words, but it needs some personality to make the decision and some long years of hardship. It is even more difficult for women in our society. Greatest of psychological hurdles in a closly knitted society where everyone knows each other is earning a bad name for rest of life. It is very difficult to get women over this psychological barrier. All other things come after that.
But when a women with strong personality comes along with trouble, its a pleasure to help her. Usually they only need a little moral help that someone is standing with them. Rest is done by themselves. Sometimes matter goes beyond comfort zones(becomes matter of getting involved in others personal matters). My greatest wish is that no such instance comes in my life where I have to betray a woman in need.
Amer, Your values and your actions can only lift women and men and your culture to a higher plane and all will benefit. What you are able to do to support your women teachers and treating them as fully mature, healthy, responsible individuals will teach more than anything preached. When a woman grows in knowledge, learns how to reason and make decisions based on evidence, when she can stand on her own two feet and assert herself (within the restrictions of her culture) more people will observe and learn from such a woman. Know you have our support and we encourage you as you take on this momentous task.