Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Living happily ever after

Tags: Marriage, Customes, Culture, Society, Relationship


Pakistan is a land of thousand faces, a country simply overflowing with cultural richness. Whatever the preferences, a wedding in Pakistan is good display of customs, traditions, many of which are heavily influenced by foreign customs. Marriage is an important social celebration and people participate with passion and enthusiasm. The rites are imbued with a certain sentiment appeal.

Demographically, Pakistan is divided in rural hinterland and urban areas. Common among marriages in rural and urban areas are Mangnee, Mayoon, Mehndi, Nikah, Valima and living happily ever after. But the way these colorful rituals are performed greatly vary.

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 industrialized 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 Omar M. Ali @ 8:34 AM, , links to this post

The Toy Village

Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka - The Toy Village - is the name of the village in Punjab, about which a lot has been written, about its unique and special concept, Thatta Kedona is the name under which the handicraft products of the village and institutions connected to it within and outside the country are marketed.

“Thatta Kedona” is quite different in nature as compared to other NGO's or similar institutions: Help and support is provided to the people within the countryside, because “if the villagers earn some money, they are not forced to move to the cities, which are already overburdened with many problems”.

The agricultural activity in the village is not sufficient and therefore it is necessary to provide opportunities for additional income in the villages. This can be done by promoting the traditional culture and its conversion into handicrafts. The approach must always be understood in its totality and implemented properly.

The income generated through agriculture may be minimal, it may in fact be just sufficient to meets the needs of basic food and simple shelter, but the cost of living in the village is definitely cheaper than the city; the push into the cities enables only the least of the migrants the promised benefits. The steadily increasing productivity of the urban industrial work place ruins not only the rural work place, but specially the life in the city; industrial production and global economics require increase in consumer base and destruction of resources, - in totality therefore not a great concept for the future.

“Thatta Kedona” propagates instead of a a mild effort rather Help Towards Self-Help, “Thatta Kedona” is not an instrument for development and financing of individual family interests nor is it an attempt at religious, political or educational infiltration !

“Thatta Kedona” does not exist with the help of donations or charity of the city dwellers, who may derive satisfaction from a good deed, -this is not compatible with the concept of Help Towards Self-Help: Donations and Alms help only superficially and encourage dependence, -a danger, which was already recognized by the founder of Pakistan and who warned against it.

In the so often propagated Global World, it is of much importance within a state to support Self-Help efforts on one hand to direct the population according to the available resources. If this does not happen, the increasing consumer behaviour kills the initiatives, which becomes known not in the beginning but at a much later stage, when reforms become impossible to implement.

The city culture is international and the problems in the cities worldwide similar, the traditional culture of diverse regions is something special and needs to be protected and supported, - Thatta Kedona is a metaphor for a change in the way of thinking: The future lies in the countryside!

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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 9:02 AM, , links to this post

Arfa Software Technology Park

It is sorrowful day for all of us. Arfa Karim Randhawa, the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional, a brilliant and outstanding young mind and a source of pride for Pakistanis all over the world, is no more with us. Her young life burnt, as her grieved father said, as a brilliant but brief flame of fire, and all her youthful aspirations were vanquished by the cruel hand of fate. It is our belief to bow to the will of Allah.. I have resolved that the dreams of this daughter of ours to do something for the nation will be translated into reality. I have decided to rename Lahore Technology Park as Arfa Software Technology Park, Lahore in her memory.

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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 1:47 PM, , links to this post

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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 4:00 AM, , links to this post

Doll Makers


The idea behind the Dolls of the World took birth in Pakistan when Thatta Kedona - a self help project - started in small Punjab village Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka in Pakistan and NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama (AeFeA) was registered in 1999. The rest is history as they say.

AeFeA has grown multidimensional over time. Now AeFeA cooperates with six local NGOs all over Pakistan from Karachi to Hunza and in many countries around the globe. In Pakistan, the project also enjoys cooperation of prestigious educational institutions – Bahaud Din Zakriya University Multan, Indus Valley School for Art and Architecture, Karachi, School of Visual Art, Lahore, Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi – interested in heritage, culture and or agriculture.
Women from other countries heard about the success of the project in Pakistan through DGFK newsletters and other media channels as well as through word of mouth (mostly from diplomatic corps housewives) and invited Dr. Senta Siller - Mother of Dolls - to start similar projects in their countries. In Cameroon, three independent NGOs -- Akwatinnighah (1998), Akaanhong (2002) and Center of Appropriate Technology in (2001) are working where over 90 persons are involved in handicrafts and appropriate technology with support from Bamenda University of Science Technology, Bamenda.

Tanto Mejor Por La Paz, Saboya is working in Colombia in cooperation with four independent local NGOs or similar organizations since 1999. Over 60 persons are busy in handicraft with collaboration from Dept of Environment Technology National University in Bogate and AeFeA.
Besides, AeFeA has networked with International Dolls Museum Flateyri and University of Reykjavik in Iceland and Benaki Museum Greece. In UAE-Dubai, AeFeA is participating in Global Village Expo every year since 2001. In Germany, besides most German senior experts coming to Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka, Dolls of the World project has support from Institute for Planning and Consulting, Potsdam.

This international community of like minded people has come a long way. Sky is their limit.
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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 9:23 AM, , links to this post

Distribution of books in TGD - 2012


Since the start of the project, NGG AFA distribute gives free books to the students of two government schools in Thatta Kedona Ghulamka Dheroka - the Dolls and Toy Village to promote education in rural community. Issue of books and educational material is part of long running education program of the village NGO. Dr. Norbert Pintsch, the Senior Research Fellow of the FPAC organizes the books distribution ceremony every year.


This year FPAC and DGFK distribute the books and school material for the new students in the village schools. Aamir Rafique , the General Secretary of the foundation in collaboration with the DGFK gave away the school education material.


In boys school books were given by Ilyas of AFA and Johannes (Computer Scientist from Free University Berlin – a DGFK guest in the village. Whereas in girls school, the books were distributed by Farooq Ahmed from AFA and Franziska - Biologist from Humboldt University Berlin – a DGFK-guest.

Both the guests from Germany (Johannes, Franziska) said, "It was very interesting to get the opportunity to see village TGD and the traditional life of the Punjab people. The children seemed to be very excited about our small happening on Education-Project. We hope that the whole project can move on a long time, and maybe we will see Thatta Ghulamaka Dhiroka one day again."

This was held on April 4, 2011.

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posted by Omar M. Ali @ 9:45 AM, , links to this post

About

Dolls' Village about Women at Their Best, womanhood, beauty, fashion, health, family, relationship and everything women in addition to recoding our achievements in a self help project Thatta Kedoa.

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