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Friends and Family

Friends and FamilyFriends and family are the focus of Pakistani life. During family celebrations people are especially generous, and relatives, friends, and neighbors are invited to join the festivities. There is often food—meats cooked in curries or in a tandoor oven, and flat breads, rice, and sweets. But the food and drinks do not include pork or alcohol, because these are prohibited in Islam.

The giving of small gifts to guests is a popular tradition. Gifts are given to commemorate special events and a sign of respect to guests. Colorful boxes of mithai, or sweets are common gifts, especially to mark the birth of a child.

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Weddings are important family celebrations. Traditional Pakistani weddings often last as long as three to five days, with many different rituals and celebrations culminating in the ceremony on the last day. The rituals include the mehndi ceremony, when the women in the family sing and dance in celebration of the bride. The ceremony is named after Mehndi, a dark red paste made from henna that is used to paint flowers and other patterns onto the bride’s hands and feet. The couple dresses formally for the nikah, or wedding ceremony, with the bride often in a colorful, embroidered dress with lots of jewelry.