Islamaic Traditions, Karachi
The "Feast of Sacrifice" and a fleeing animal lover's escape:
This festival concludes the pilgrimage to Mecca ("Hajj"), begins on the 10th of the last month of the Islamic calendar & lasts for 3 days. The festival commemorates Abraham's willingness to obey God by sacrificing his only son.
Any family that can afford it will buy a goat, sheep or cow for this holiday.
The wealthy neighbours proudly gloated about their 2 cows, each apparently costing 1 Mio Rupees (17.000 US Dollars!). The house opposite had 2 goats (see picture) waiting for their death in the front yard.
Don't get me wrong: I try to accept religious or cultural traditions whenever I travel, but as an animal-lover I really have problems accepting the "halal" slaughter and/or the sacrificing of any kind of animal (thank goodness where I live (Dubai) people are no longer allowed to slaughter their Eid-animals in the street. They must be taken to a slaughter-house).
The family is meant to use approx. a 3rd of the meat for itself, and distribute the rest to acquaintances and the poor. This is supposed to symbolise a Muslim's willingness to "sacrifice, share and give".
It's a strange sight: seeing 2 little Pakistani boys aged approx. 6yrs old, playing with the goats in front of their house, running around, leading them by ropes around their necks, giggling, laughing & having a great time... do they not know what will happen to their 4-legged playtime pals? Are they aware and do not care?
The goat will struggle in panic and with a quick stab-and-twist a man cuts the goat's throat. Blood is everywhere. The animal tries to scream, but the vocal cords have been severed. It quivers and is soon dead, but not quick enough for me to ignore the suffering in its eyes...
All I can say is: I am very glad that we left Karachi 2 days before the Eid celebrations began... animals screaming in the blood-soaked streets isn't a "local custom" that I wish to witness.
There is no strict dress-code in Pakistan but it should be clearly understood that modesty prevails. I live in a Muslim country so it wasn't difficult for me to adjust.
Simply keep legs, shoulders & forearms covered with loose clothing. Don't wear anything that is very tight & figure-hugging. You are not required to cover your hair in Pakistan, but in certain areas you might find that it helps divert unwanted attention away from you... Nevertheless, women should *always* cover their hair in a mosque.
The main reason for "covering-up" is clearly showing respect towards the country's main religion, Islam. Secondly, many Muslim men are influenced by the Western movies & media, acquiring the common belief that Western women are "easy". Lewd comments & disapproving stares may be the least you have to deal with. Harassment is rare but it does happen.
The national dress of Pakistan consists of sandals & the "Shalwar Kameez":
Shalwar = a pair of thin cotton trousers.
Kameez = a long, cotton shirt down to the knees.
You'll also see women wearing a scarf/shawl over their shoulder called a "Dupatta". This can be used to cover your hair whenever needed.
As a woman, don't feel completely oppressed by this "dress code"... modesty is also requested from men as well: T-shirts (with sleeves) are acceptable but shorts are not.
Whilst in Karachi I was wearing either a long skirt & loose top, or jeans & a loose top. If you feel like your need more coverage, I found a Pashmina shawl very useful (see photo). Just sling it around your shoulders to cover your bosom and bottom.
In Islamic countries such as Pakistan, people are really appreciative of tourists who "cover-up" respectfully (or even wear the traditional dress). Do your best to adjust to the culture and you'll be far more comfortable, physically & socially.
in pakistan i saw many women, all of them dress pakistani dresses as kameez salwar and dupatta, but many girls don't put the veil (dupatta) on their head, while others put completely black dresses showing only the eyes. it's up-to the people to dress as they think is respectful fo their religion.
respect is so important when we visit another country..I dressed pakistani dresses because for muslim culture western women dresses are often offending their traditions and beliefs...and I think they are just elegant and coulorful dresses...
Since Pakistan is an Islamic State, foreigners would find it int heir best interest to be awre of this fact and be careful not to offend anyone. Women should be careful not to wear anything skimpy or revealing,especially around the market areas and this may arouse some remarks and slight harrassment.