For some families, a flight from Pakistan to a location in the Western Hemisphere can seem like a flight to another world. That would certainly be the case if a close-knit Pakistani family were to travel to either the United States or Canada.
In Western countries, family members tend to be categorized. Some family members fall in the designation “immediate family;” others come under the heading “extended family.” For the families in Pakistan, the closeness of all family members obliterates the need for such categorization.
In Pakistan, the closeness of all family members dictates the family approach to ever occasion. Pakistani children, even older children, do not hesitate to accompany their parents out in public. Many Pakistani children share their home with one or both pairs of grandparents.
When a child grows up in such a close-knit family, he or she learns to appreciate all members of any family. If such a child later immigrates to the U.S., then his or her spouse will receive a wonderful surprise. An adult familiar with close-knit families will quickly offer condolences to any family member who experiences the loss of a loved one.
Among the families in Pakistan, one can find many different types of what has come to be called a “joint family.” As mentioned, a joint family invariably contains one or more grandparents. A joint family can also contain an Aunt, an Uncle and even some cousins. In a joint family, they would all live under one roof.
Each member of a Pakistani family has respect for the older family members. At the same time, the families in Pakistan never fail to look at the children in the family as “gifts from God.” The parents feel responsible for teaching the children in the family the basic beliefs of the family’s chosen religion.
Islam is the religion practiced by most of the families in Pakistan. Special occasions, such as weddings, are carried out according to Muslim tradition. Many marriages are planned marriages. The father of a daughter decides who she will marry. His word must go unquestioned.
While the father directs the planning for a wedding, all of the family members play a part in the wedding preparations. They help to outfit the bride, to obtain needed deorationsand to prepare food for guests. On the day of the wedding, the family members gather for the administration of the marriage contract, what Pakistanis call “mikah.”
A second ceremony conducted in Pakistani homes is called the “aqeeqa” ceremony. During that ceremony, family members gather for a feast. They witness the circumcision of a new male infant. The importance of that ceremony underlines the ephasis that families in Pakistan put on their male children.
A female child is expected to grow into the role of a mother, with her life decisions guided by men. Of course, women in Pakistan are finding more and more reason to proceed through life in a manner that refuses to accept any restrictions proposed by male family members.
The actions of women in present-day Pakistan could well re-shape the nature of family life inside Pakistan.