Lahore is cultural, intellectual and artistic center of the nation. Its faded elegance, busy streets and bazaars, and wide variety of Islamic and British architecture make it a city full of atmosphere, contrast and surprise.
The warm and receptive people of Lahore are known for their traditional hospitality. This is a city of vivid differences, of haunting nuances; where bustling bazaars, frenetic streets, glorious fading elegance, British Architecture and echoing atmosphere of city's many mosques merge together into a history that is both dramatic and fascinating.
Lahore is country's undisputed centre of Cultural life. When somebody is asked to define the particular charm of their city , Lahoris are apt to shrug and respond with a laconic , 'Lahore is Lahore'.
Being the center of cultural and literary activities it may rightly be called the cultural capital of Pakistan.
Marriages and Betrothal
Betrothal always precedes a marriage. The proposal is initiated by the near relatives of the boy or girl and the women of both the sides take leading part in finalizing the proposal. The wedding may take place at any time after the betrothal. Marriage between the same sections of tribe or caste is customary. But inter-marriage between people of different tribes and castes in cities and towns is becoming more frequent.
The usual age of marriage for boys is 20 to 30 years and that for girls is from 18 to 25 years. On the wedding day the relatives and friends of the boy assemble and proceed in procession to the girl's house. The marriage procession is generally headed by a musical band.
A marriage party is received by the relatives and friends of the parents of the girl. The party is then entertained . Thereafter the Nikah ceremony is performed by the Nikah registrar and a feast is given to the party. Alms are distributed to beggars and Village Mueens are fed.
Then the party returns to the house of the bride groom with the bride but in a doli or in a car. She stays for a couple of days and then returns to her father's house. The final bringing home of the bride is called Muklawa. The dowry in the shape of ornaments, clothing and furniture etc. is given to the girl from her parents.
Houses are a mixture of old and modern style of architecture. House are mostly built of bricks and Concrete . Since independence many new residential colonies have been built in and around Lahore city.
The staple food of the city people is wheat , rice and pulses. Meat is frequently taken specially in cities . Pulses and vegetables are quite common items of diet. The chief meals are taken just before mid day and in the evening soon before sunset. But the city folk generally have three meals , one early in the morning the other at mid day and the third after sunset.
The ordinary food of villagers, roti made from flour of wheat, grams, barley, maize, or jawar. In villages morning meal is usually taken with skimmed yogurt or curd mixed with water known as Lassi. The special dish for guests in rural areas consist of Halwa, Sewaiyan, chicken , mutton, or sometimes beef.
While in urban areas , Pulao, Zarda, Buriyani and qorma are served. Tea is almost universal popular in cities and regulary taken at breakfast and in the evening. Villagers also take tea specially after meal.
Dress and Ornaments
In urban areas semi-western dress is worn by educated people while indigenous dress is worn at home. The local dress consist of the Kurta and Shalwar. Achkan and Sherwani are worn on formal occasions. The women's colors are generally more colorful. The important items of the women clothing are Shalwar Kamiz and Dopatta or Chaddar to cover their heads and upper parts of their body. Sari is only worn by women of the upper classes in cities on formal occasion. Shoes are worn by those living in city while women folk wear sandals and slippers , Purdah is not generally observed by city women.
The birth of a male child is considered an occasion of great rejoicing and is followed by the distribution of sweets to friends and relatives who come to offer congratulations to the parents. Soon after the birth of a child, the Mullah or an elderly male member of the family recites Azan (call for Muslim prayer) into the ears of the child. Money is also given to the Mueens (village artisans) on the birth of a male child at the time of circumcision ceremony which is either performed soon after the birth or less commonly after a few years.
Circumcision is performed by a barber in the villages and generally by a surgeon in towns and cities. Aqiqa ceremony is performed both for a male and a female child. One goat is sacrificed in case of a girl and two in case of a boy.
On the death of a person, neighbourers, relatives and friends assemble at the house of the deceased to console the bereaved family. Just after the death, the face of the deceased is turned towards the Ka'aba and the dead-body is kept in a proper posture. The corpse is bathed, and wrapped in a coffin of new cotton sheet. Comphor and rose water are sprinkled over the body which is placed on a Charpai and those present have a last look. The dead body accompanied by the mourners is then carried to the grave-yard where Namaz-e-Janaza is offered before it is lowered into the grave.
The death is mourned for three days, when Qul ceremony is performed. The women-folk mourn with great vehemence. On the 40th day, called Chaliswan, meals are served to friends, relatives and the poor. Christians also bury their dead. Immediately after death, the local Church authorities are informed of the occurrence and bells start tolling in the Church.
The dead body is washed and then dressed in the best available garments, is carried to the Church and placed there for last sight. The mourners then go past the body and either sprinkle scent or place flower wreaths on the dead body. The service for the dead is held in the Church where verses from the Bible are recited and a brief sermon delivered.
The body is then taken to the graveyard and interred. Hindues, Budhists and Jain burn their dead. Funeral processions often departs from the house of the dead with musicians in the vanguard. The body is shifted to a nearby temple, if available in the vicinity, where mantra-chanting priests lead the prayer. The body is then taken to 'Ghaat' where it is placed under a pile of dried wood and burnt. Rich Hindus still use Ghee and Sandal wood to burn their dead. After the body is completely burnt and reduced to ashes the same are collected and thrown in river or tossed to the winds.