For Karachi’s brides, setting a wedding date is a lesson in politics, history and sensitivity

Venues may be booked six months in advance, but there are certain days no one wants to touch.


Setting a wedding date in Karachi involves much more than just checking if Uncle Ashfaq in Frankfurt will be able to make it. For some vigilant residents, it also includes careful planning around the anniversaries of days marked by violence.

Hina Mir, who was getting married this year, decided not to schedule any wedding event on December 27. “It is Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary and it’s bound to be that the city situation will not be normal,” she said. “I don’t want to have to worry about whether there will be a girl at the salon to blow-dry my hair or if my driver or any of the people who have to make arrangements will show up. It has happened to other people I knew so I didn’t want to go through that.”

According to Faisal Qureshi, the owner of the Aero Club in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, people account for religious months, when their extended families can travel and school vacations when setting a date. “In 2008, a year after Benazir Sahiba died, people did avoid the date because it was still fresh and it was the first death anniversary,” he said. “But time heals the deepest wounds, so in the following years the number of people holding events on December 27 has increased.”

Dates such as April 4, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death anniversary, and May 12, 2007 which went down in history for being one of Karachi’s bloodiest, are also avoided by some prospective clients at Bahria Auditorium.

As it turns out, however, one person’s fear is another one’s opportunity. There was a mad rush in April to book wedding venues for December. Representatives of popular locations, including Creek Club and Sadabahar Banquet Lawn, said that December had been locked down far in advance. “We’re taking bookings for next March now,” laughed a staffer at Sadabahar. Zaman at Imperial Lawn added that expatriate Pakistanis tended to book a year in advance and locals claim a place six months before the date.

This means that the dates that some couples avoid, can be picked up by others. Mushriquz Zaman, the general manager at Clifton’s Imperial Lawns, estimates that about 30% of the people who approach them are too scared to pick December 27.

When Zohaib Akhtar started to look for a wedding venue in Karachi, he thought he had covered his bases. But three separate venues - Bahria Auditorium, Creek Club and the PAF Museum - told him that they were booked solid for all dates in December - except for the 27th.

These ‘untouchable’ dates can work for people who are desperate, such as the “jhat mangni pat biyah scene” as one of the city’s most popular event planners Frieha Altaf puts it. And then there are families who have to hold an event on December 27 due to constraints but decide to keep it low key and at home. Either way, whatever the family decides in the end, the fact is that they cannot ignore the city’s history.


Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2012.


Raza | 8 years ago | Reply

Well you can plan all you want; if there is political unrest and strike on the day of your wedding, that's just too bad.

Loki | 8 years ago | Reply

I know what it's like, my cousin's Valima was due on 27th December 2007 and the bride was stuck in the parlour and the next 4 days it was complete shutter down. A lot of food wasted and more then that very huge losses.

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