Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Picture of Pakistani Rural Culture in the Poem "Wedding in the Flood" by Taufiq Rafat


In this poem the poet has presented a very vivid slice of life in the rural Punjab. The picture is so real that the readers who are acquainted to the culture of the rural Punjab read this poem with complete involvement and cannot help appreciating the poet’s power of portraying true poetic picture of Pakistani culture.

When parents in a society like Pakistan choose a match for their daughter, they do it with a lot of fears and prayers. They feel worried because the women are not given their due rights in our society and they have very little authority in the daily affairs of life. So they have to be subordinate to their men. The bride is frightened because of these circumstances. She also thinks about her husband’s nature and disposition. She is actually in total scaring atmosphere. Same are the worries of the bridegroom for her new life partner.

If only her face matches her hands
And she gives me no mother-in-law problems….

The bridegroom has not seen his bride before and he will only see her at his home after the ceremonies are over. Arranged marriages are a common practice in Pakistan. The bridegroom’s desires and expectations for having a beautiful wife evoke a little bit of fun and amusement. He is trying to guess the beauty of his wife by watching her hands.

Next, the poet takes note of a myth which is very famous in Pakistani society regarding the boys and girls wedding day weather. If the rain falls or wind storm comes on the wedding day, people blame the girls or the boy that this happened on account of his/her habit of pot-licking in childhood. However in this poem only the bride has been blamed of causing the rain fall because the poem presents the behaviors and remarks of the bridegroom’s side for most of time. The bridegroom says:

It was my luck to get a pot-licking wench.

We should keep in mind that such things are said usually in light mood but sometimes if a tragedy occurs, then the bride is seriously blamed.

The bride’s father-in-law protests, out of indignation, over a petty dowry which is useless for him but useful to the bride only. He says if the bride’s parents had given a bullock, it could have been very useful at the next season of sowing. They have been burdened with it for nothing in this ruthless weather. Such type of demands or desires is very common in Pakistani society and is generally the root cause of spoiling conjugal union and a lot of trouble for women.

The use of palankeen for transporting the bride was very common in the recent past in Pakistan. This means of transport presents a special look and implication on the eve of marriage. Such type of arrangement for the transport of bride shows that the bride is gold and flower like thing. She is a gift or booty for the bridegroom and his family. She should be transported to the bridegroom’s house as if she is something divine. Certainly it was a beautiful custom which now has been lost in the past.

The cultural environment which we have discussed above demonstrates both the beauties and biases that are associated with the marriage institution in the rural Pakistan.

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