By Munira Asad for Soul Sisters Pakistan
Growing up in South Asia we witness a variety of customs in weddings due to the mix of cultures and religions in the subcontinent region over the past 1000 years. One of the disliked customs we have been bequeathed with is that of dowry.
In this regard I feel blessed to be a part of a community that condemns dowry (jahaiz). Other than that our community (Bohra) makes sure that everyone – no matter their financial background – can afford to have a wedding in the best budget friendly venue with great food and decoration.
Talking about Karachi, the Bohra community has a few Masjids in different areas of the city. These masjids have congregational halls (jamaat khana) beyond the sehan (courtyard) area. The local community facilitates us with these halls for functions like weddings & birthdays. The approximate cost of having one extremely lavish function in this hall is exponentially lower than that in traditional wedding halls and hotels!
My husband belongs to the Urdu speaking Sunni sect and I thought that the hardest thing to communicate to his family would be how we do not believe in dowry customs and that my parents will not put me on sale. However, to my pleasant surprise and fortunate luck my mother in law is strictly against this custom as an individual and how she will not bend to this ugly cultural obligation. My husband and my mother in law made sure they told me and my parents that they could not possibly give them anything else after they agreed to give their most precious treasure!
She told me “mein unn waldein se aur kia maangoun jo apna kaleja nikal ke meraay betay ko de rahey ho.”
With that said my wedding cost was even lower than average weddings in Pakistan, not just because of the simplicity we adopt as members of the Bohra Community but because there was no condition of DOWRY. As common as this custom is, it is downright appalling and needs to end. No daughter should believe that she is worthy of more or less in account to the amount of jahez she walked in with. For all of us who have sons or will have sons in the future we need to eliminate this cultural custom from their upbringing and keep them as far away from it as possible.
It’s not shameful to have a simple wedding. After the camera lights are off and the guests go home, it’s your marriage that will count.