Shalwar Kameez is the ethnic wear of Pakistan. It comes in varying styles and designs. Sold both in boutiques and bespoke by independent designers. Figure 1 depicts more formal wear while Figure 2 is more daily wear.
Pakistani food is made using an assortment of food colorings and spices. Most dishes are eaten with bread called Naan and Roti. Roti is the basic flatbread that is made in the majority of Pakistani households to accompany foods such as Daal (Lentils) and Bhindi (Ladyfinger). Naan consists of a fluffier texture which is normally eaten with foods with more pungent tastes like Boneless Chicken which Chicken Curry with boneless chicken pieces. Therefore, the go-to method of eating is with the hands. Unless there are rice dishes such as the all-time favorite- Biryani. It is essentially pieces of flavored chicken with rice using green chili peppers, sliced onions, mint, tomatoes, yogurt, garlic, and ginger pastes, along with spices such as red chili pepper powder and turmeric powder (ingredients may vary depending on households).
Eid, which means ‘feast’ or ‘festival’ (2020) is the main holiday celebrated by Pakistanis all over the world. There are two Eids over the course of the year. One is Eid-al-Fitr which comes right after the end of the holiest calendar month, Ramdan (if said with Arabic pronunciation) or Ramzan (Pakistani pronunciation). This is the month when Muslims observe fasts for all 30 days with a set timing to eat before the fast begins- Sehri which decreases a minute each day and opens at- Iftari the timing of which increases a minute each following day. This is due to the fact that the schedule is followed by the rising and transcending of the sun. There are exceptions to those who are required to fast. For example, children are not obligated to fast, someone with a mental illness or need to take medications or is traveling does not need to fast. In addition to this, females who are menstruating are not allowed to fast. The second Eid is Eid al-Adha which means ‘feast of the sacrifice’ (2020) the sacrifice’ is celebrated about a bit over 2 months later as many Muslims perform the Hajj pilgrimage.
The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. It is to be conducted by every Muslim adult at least once in his or her lifetime. As long as one is physically fit and financially able to do and the family will not be burdened by the absence of the said person. If one is unable to go, hajj can be performed by appointing a family or friend to go perform the pilgrimage in their place (Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia, August 7, 2020). The purpose of this is to wipe out past sins and start afresh with Allah.
Five Pillars of Islam
- Shahada: Belief in “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”
- Salat: Prayer (5 times a day- Fajr, Zuhur, Asr, Maghrib, Isha)
- Zakat: Charity
- Sawm: Fasting- conducted during the month of Ramzan
- Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca
Traditionally, women are expected to stay home cooking 3 meals a day, looking after the house, and potential kids while men go to work. For those families who pray all 5 times in a day, the men wake up early in the day to go pray at the mosque or at Fajr prayers which start around 4 am while the women only pray at home, ending the day after Isha which is around 10 pm.
As the country continues its move towards modernism, more and more females are going out to study and work rather than staying at home.
Items that are prohibited in Islam are called Haram. Things such as adultery or sexual intercourse between two unmarried individuals, drinking alcohol, eating pork, and gambling is considered haram.
How to Address Someone from a Pakistani background
- When greeting someone say: As-Salaam-Alaikum, which translates to peace be unto you– Responding to someone who approaches you and says this first —> Wa Alaikum Salaam which translates to and unto you peace. Basically wishing peace upon the person who addressed you as well.
- When saying bye: One can say either Allah Hafiz or Khuda Hafiz. Both of which mean God protect you. They are interchangeable as Allah and Khuda words used for God in the Islamic religion.
- Elder women are referred to as Aunty and men are called Uncle.
- Usually, if a male is 5+ years older than an individual he is called Bhai (for some people it might be 2+ or 3+ years older) –> If a female is older then she is called Apa or Baji