28 July, 2021

Better Gorge On That Pilaf

In Pakistan, the rule is made to work with fines and jail terms

Better Gorge On That Pilaf

Weddings in Pakistan are no different from those in India—grand, colourful affairs, lasting days and involving hundreds of guests. But the one-dish rule, which came some 15 years ago, works fine here.

It was in 1997, when Nawaz Sharif became prime minister for the first time, that his government came up with the slogan, ‘One dish, One rule for everyone’. The Marriage (Prohibition of Wasteful Expenses) Ordinance allowed only one dish at the valima (a reception organised by the family of the bridegroom a couple of days after the wedding). The number of people fed was not to exceed 300. The objective of the ordinance, welcomed by the middle class, was to curb ostentatious expenditure and relieve the poor from the pressure of living up to irrational expectations. There was, of course, strong opposition from the elite, who argued the rule ran against well-established Pakistani traditions.

According to the ordinance, one dish strictly means one curry with roti, rice and salad. A fine of Rs 5 lakh is imposed on...

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