Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

How People Marry in Rural Pakistan

Rural areas of Pakistan still remain a largely conservative society, where many young people shy away when it comes to marriages. Exceptions apart, arranged marriages are a cornerstone of rural society. It remains the responsibility of parents and marriages are mostly among people within the same tribe, caste, community, family or locality.

This is what happens in rural areas with some minor changes from place to place: After initial understanding and covert messages between families of prospective spouses, the boy's relatives visit the girl's family and offer the proposal, on formal acceptance the "mangni" (engagement) takes place, marriage date is fixed, groom, with friends and relatives goes to the house of the bride in the form of barat (marriage procession) where the nikah (social contact) is performed. The consent of the bride and the groom to the marriage (ijab and qabool) in the presence of at least two witnesses is obtained to solemnize the contract as per the commandment of divine Islam. Guests are served with sumptuous food (notwithstanding what the law of the land says about the feast). Groom brings home his the bride. This is followed by Walima. Life goes on . . .

Moreover, on the arrival of barat, the dowry is displayed for every one to see and at the same place groom's female relatives show what they have gifted (jewellery and clothing) to the bride. Both sides glorify the gifts. Paradoxically, in Punjab, a night earlier than the marriage date, groom visits homes of his friends and relatives where he is offered money. Other gifts mostly in the form of money (salami) or garlands made of currency notes are presented when groom gets ready for going to bride's home. Customarily, groom dresses up in attire presented to him by one of his sisters and in return, he gives to his sister(s) what she demands. There are no marriage halls and the congregations take place in homes and or community centres (called Daras). There are no caterers. Local tradesmen prepare food and serve.

As per the available statistics, divorce rate in the rustic areas is comparatively lower. The core join family system is still in tact and that is one of the reasons for low divorce rate. At the other hand, marriages at very young age, consanguineous marriages, marriages without consent of the partners and cross marriages are common.

There is not much of a variation in the core marriage ceremonies in urban areas, only the way they are performed differ. In the cities, the assertive sons and daughters of an educated middle-class are finding new ways of meeting their match. Although many still have arranged marriages, it is no longer unheard of for couples to marry after having fallen in love or meting over the Internet or in a TV show. Court marriages are also not very uncommon.

Difference in thinking between modern urban elites and traditional rural families is reflected in marriages in many ways. Norms in the urban society have changed over the years and they are on the constant move. Vulnerable to satellite TV, Internet, higher education and affluence, urban population is open and highly receptive to the waves of modernity. Unlike in the past, the selection of marriage partners now is done from the groups that are similar in social characteristics. In present times, urbanites are now most likely to marry individuals who are in similar social group, educational attainment and social class.

Another interesting pattern that is now visible is the strong influence of the western society, which has now trickled down its norms to our youth who have proudly inculcated them into being 'ours'. People in urban areas are slowly but surely moving towards the conjugal family system from our traditional and inherited consanguine system. Twenty years ago the scenario in Pakistani cities was quite the contrary.

Families in urban areas are strongly influenced by the environment and by technology in particular. To take a historic overview, as Pakistani society industrialised some 25 years ago, families lost their old patterns and received changed values. This resulted among other things, in smaller families in urban areas of Pakistan. In addition many of the functions, once attributed to the families became the responsibilities of other institutions and individuals. It was because of the shift to a more formal societal structure that romantic love is replaced by economic and social reasons as a factor influencing the choice of a marriage partner. The role of women has also changed as the family is losing control over the destinies of its female members.

Matchmaking by the third party is a preferred way now. This has given rise to match making business. Interested people are asked to provide details of eligible sons and daughters, as well as their requirements from a spouse and matchmakers do rest of he job. Marriages take place at marriage halls and hotels instead of homes. Dowry, usually, is sent to the bride's home before the marriage.

The affluence and wealth makes a large difference in weeding ceremonies, in rural as well as urban areas. The more people have, the more elaborate are the rituals. But spirit everywhere remains the same.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:52 AM, , links to this post

Dolls of the World - Project Description

Proof of this is found in the escavations in South America, the Subcontinent, Japan, Italy, Greece, and other sites all over the world. Made out of sa number pof materials like wood, wax, clay, cloth etc., they were not only a toy but used also as religious symbols and cult items for example as miniaturized images of persons.

Even today they are used by many people as fetish. Today, the experts are not sure what was the first purpose of the dolls; as a toy, out of which the cult figure developed or the cult figure which became a toy.

Over and above their value as toys with educational value, dolls are realistic documentation of past and present times and therefore important source of our knowledge about the games, life, living and work conditions and economy. They are important cultural carriers.

Dr Senta Siller established different projects in Pakistan, Cameroun, Columbia, etc., in which small but long-term progress was made towards development of rural areas, help towards self-sustained development, discouragement of urbanization by way of income generating projects in the rural areas through production of certain types of handicraft items. Dolls are manufactured here lovingly and clothed in traditional dresses and accessories. Fabric design and types of clothing are revived and take an important place in daily life.
Dolls from Pakistan

The women project established by Dr Siller in 1993 in the pakistani province of Punjab, which has in the meanwhile also added a men centre, has 120 women members and it is generating income. The women here work not on full-time basis but in a traditional way so that family and field work is not compromised and festivals of different types, common in villages, can be celebrated as usual. The village Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka has about 1200 residents. The villagers established the NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama in 1991, which co-operates with the DGFK e.V. (German Society for Promotion of Culture). The Anjuman itself co-operates with six further projects in the country.

Dolls from Cameroun

Three co-operatives (Akwatinuighah, Akaankang, HandiCraft CAT) are functioning since 1998 in Bamenda, the capital of the North-West Provinz in Cameroun, which is located near the border to Nigeria. Also this NGO co-operates with the DGFK, Germany. Bamenda has about 60000 residents living on seven hills, who speak eight different languages. Apart from the men of CAT, over 100 women manufacture a variety of handicrafts.

Dolls from Columbia

The co-operative Tantomejor was established in 1999 in Saboya and it works in the meanwhile with three other initiatives. Saboya has about 6000 residents near Chiquinquira, the capital of Departemento Boyaca, north of Bogota. Also this NGO enjoys cooperation of the DGFK. Over 100 women are engaged in the manufacture of handicraft items.


In other languages:

Dukker Projekt
Puppen der Welt
Muñecas del Mundo
Poupées du monde
Куклы Hародов Mира

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:17 AM, , links to this post

Thatta Kedona Summer School

Sophie Kuppler


Due to the heavy rains falling all over Pakistan, this year's Thatta Kedona summer school was more adventurous than usual. Monika Kuppler (handicrafts teacher) left Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka together with her students (Shama Bibi, Razia, Nazia and Shazia Sarfraz, Sughira Rafiq and Rahina Perveen) on July 19, 2010 to meet me [Sophie Kuppler, the English teacher] in Islamabad and then continue their travel up North to Gupis.


Short of Gupis, the travel was interrupted for two days due to landslides blocking the road. As clearance work took much longer than expected, we decided to leave some baggage behind and walk across the landslides.


Arriving in Gupis, classes stated. Our daily walks through the surrounding scenic areas helped to get in contact with local women, who would invite us into their houses for tea, delicious local bread and homemade apple jam. Some would even send apricots and apples to us at place where we were staying. This interaction gave us a chance to compare local handicrafts work with work from women art center Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka.

Our days at Gupis were thus filled with studying, cooking, doing handicrafts, and playing educational games for repeating the vocabulary learned. The students were learning very fast and all were enjoying the beautiful scenery and hospitality of the local people.

A few days after the rain had started the bridge in Gupis broke and all supplies were cut off. Fortunately, the owner of the guesthouse, where we stayed, had warned us early enough for us to be able to buy enough food for the coming days. Our worries about how to travel back were quickly dispersed: the local people had built a new wooden-bridge within two days.

Once it was possible to travel again we left Gupis for Gilgit, again only taking what we could carry as the streets were broken in many places and our journey had to be continued on foot.

Once in Gilgit, we were stuck for four days as the Karakorum Highway was blocked and flights could not operate due to bad weather. During this time we continued with the English classes and handicrafts work. Finally, the road through Naran valley was re-opened and two jeeps brought us safely across Babusar pass for our onward travel to Islamabad.


Despite the challenges all had learned a lot and were very happy. We would like to thank all those, who made this year's summer school possible and enjoyable and who helped us to get safely back to our respective homes. These are especially: Lions Club Heilbronn, Mrs Gabi Fröhlich, Mr. Shah Wali (Explore Pakistan), Mr Dildar, the hotel staff in Gilgit and all our drivers. [Also here]

Related: Summer Camp 2009

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 7:00 AM, , links to this post


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