How coronavirus is affecting Pakistan’s extravagant weddings

Pakistani families are hosting smaller ceremonies and spending less on weddings because of virus restrictions.

Weddings are usually extravagant affairs in Pakistan but a ban on large public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic has forced many to opt for smaller ceremonies. 

Pakistan, which has reported more than 290,000 cases of the new coronavirus, removed nearly all of its restrictions as part of a partial lockdown last week. 

Restaurants, cinemas and gyms have been reopened but educational institutions and wedding venues will remain closed until September 15.

Noman Ali said he pushed back his wedding by three months, before going ahead with a smaller guest-list of 250 instead of 800.

“We waited for a month, then two months, then three. The pandemic just wasn’t ending. So we decided to invite fewer people,” Ali told Al Jazeera. 

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Pakistanis host a number of events as part of the wedding, traditionally spending large amounts of money.

Families can even go bankrupt and see their life savings disappear.

Due to this, some believe the pandemic is a blessing in disguise

“Parents who are poor but feel pressure to host ostentatious [weddings], they’ve been able to save [money] because of coronavirus. I think it should always be like this and society should embrace it. It would be better for everyone,” Azam Khan, a wedding guest, told Al Jazeera. 

However, the growing trend of at-home smaller ceremonies has also put a strain on countless businesses who rely on weddings – such as florists, caterers, jewellers and fashion designers.

“The nearly 650,000 people working at wedding venues nationwide have been sitting at home for nearly six months,” Rana Ahmed, president of the Karachi Banquet Hall Association, said.

He estimated 50 percent of Pakistan’s industries are linked to weddings.

“We’ve tried to help, giving them [food] rations, and we’ve continued to pay salaries to staff employees. But the day labourers, who the government said it would [help], are the most worried. And they account for nearly 500,000 people.”

Reporting by Zein Basravi in Karachi

Source: Al Jazeera

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