Marriage functions act totally missing in KP

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Tariq Saeed

While the Government of Punjab, through a bill adopted by the provincial assembly, has further tightened the laws on marriage functions with a view to promoting austerity and discouraging pomp and show, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is far behind in discouraging the lavish spendings on the marriages and related parties only adding to the plight of the lower middle class that finds it hard to make both the ends meet.
In fact the one dish restriction in the marriages and other functions is being implemented in letter and spirit in Punjab over the decades, yet the Punjab Assembly a week back took a step forward and approved amendments to the Marriage Functions Bill, enforcing jail term and hefty fines on violators and placing strict limitations on food served at weddings in the province.
In a provision titled “prohibition of ostentatious celebrations”, the bill restricts citizens celebrating or organizing marriage from “decorating any street, road or public park or any place other than the building with lights or illumination etc”.
The law called Punjab Marriage Functions Act 2016 also put in place restrictions on edibles being served during weddings, even if the functions take place at the family’s residence saying “A person celebrating his marriage or organizing the marriage of any other person shall not serve or allow anyone to serve meals or other edibles except one dish to the persons participating in the marriage”. Likewise, it has also been made mandatory that all the wedding functions would conclude before 10 P.M. while fire display and display of dowry items have also been banned.
However, on the contrary, there is no such concept in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the marriage laws introduced a few decades back, could never be implemented in their true spirit and consequently people did not pay much heed to the restrictions imposed on lavish spending on the marriage related activities, hence pomp and show during such functions have become order of the day.
The marriage functions laws in the then NWFP, even when implemented half-heartedly many decades back, were infact confined to a particular section of society specially the families belonging to Armed Forces who practiced the austerity drive and served one or two dishes in their functions. Likewise, the marriage halls, etc. that too under the government pressure, though refused to serve multiple dishes, they used to allow tea parties in the marriage functions with five to eight sumptuous items including roasted chicken pieces. Owing to lack of interest on part of the implementing bodies specially the police stations concerned, those were duly “obliged” by the violators, the practice could hardly last for a couple of years.
The situation in KP at present is that huge spendings are made in marriage functions with regard to serving food items and related activities forcing those, who cannot afford, to go for big borrowings that ultimately make them heavily indebted only to maintain their status and avoid embarrassment among the relatives.
The factual position in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is that a middle class family has to pay between three hundred thousand to six hundred thousand alone in the head of food for a single day function, whereas, the single day meal costs an upper middle class family or rich families between seven hundred thousand rupees to Rs I.5 million. Off-course other expenses such as decoration/illumination, fire display, preparation of luxurious stage, etc. are in addition. The cost of making bridal stages runs from 10,000 to 120,000 rupees.
This show of status is being practised unabated in KP without any fear as those at the helm of affairs or for that matter the people responsible for doing way with such trends are unmoved and have no face to promote austerity as they themselves are the biggest promoters of pomp and show in their private functions.
Would the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf led KP government follow Punjab in introducing austerity measures and strictly discouraging the pomp and show during marriages and other functions and bring changes in such like trends that can lead to bring ease in the lives of a common man , is yet to be seen. After all they claim themselves to be the Champions of Change.

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