Saturday, September 18, 2021

Traditions & Customs in Pakistan

AsiaPakistanTraditions & Customs in Pakistan

Pakistani customs are extremely similar to those of other Muslim and neighboring nations, especially India, with whom Pakistan has many similarities. Like other cultures in the Middle East and Central Asia, the culture has a strong history of hospitality. Guests are often treated very nicely. Pakistanis take pride in their history of welcoming visitors (mehmanawazi in Urdu). While Pakistan has not seen many foreigners in recent years and suffers from some insularity, any foreigner may be viewed with mistrust and looked at. In general, though, Pakistanis are kind, polite, and giving people who are fascinated by outsiders and different cultures.

Etiquette

The following etiquette and traditions guidelines may be helpful while interacting with Pakistani people:

  • When you visit a home, you will frequently be greeted with tea, sweets, and presents; refusing them is considered ungrateful. A precise balance is required to finish a meal. Cleaning your plate can encourage you to order more, while leaving too much may indicate that you didn’t like it. Aim to leave just a smidgeon early, expressing your fullness and lavishing praise on the meal. Bringing a food present, such as a cake or a sweet box, when you’re welcomed to someone’s house for the first time is regarded extremely kind and will be much appreciated.
  • You should use your right hand for eating, shaking hands, and giving or receiving anything (including money), much like you would in most of South Asia or the Muslim world, and save your left hand for handling shoes and helping with bathroom chores.
  • The majority of Pakistanis are religious, although large cities are more liberal and open-minded, and secular viewpoints are widespread. Pakistani regulations are not as severe as those in other Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia, despite its strong Islamic moral code. Respecting the hundreds of unwritten norms and regulations that govern Pakistani society may be intimidating for visitors, but don’t be put off. As a foreigner, you will be allowed more freedom, and it will not take long for you to adjust.
  • Most Pakistani women dislike interacting with strangers, so don’t be surprised if they refuse to communicate with you. It’s better not to try to communicate with them again if they don’t respond. When greeting one other, people of opposite sex do not shake hands. When shaking hands, it is customary for males to place their left hand over their chest (heart). When greeting each other in metropolitan Pakistan and certain other areas of the nation, men and women drop their heads and raise their hand to their forehead in the “adab” gesture.
  • Business moves slowly, and it is often preceded by a lot of chatting, tea drinking, and family gatherings. Rushing to the point may be impolite and possibly damage the relationship.
  • Pakistan is a conservative nation, and visitors should be informed that Pakistani women dress modestly, but more liberal clothing may be observed in urban areas. In public, it is preferable for ladies to wear long skirts or trousers. Women are not required to wear hijab or abaya. The traditional shalwar kameez is worn by Pakistani ladies. Women wearing jeans and khakis are popular in large cities, particularly in informal situations, shopping malls, and near picnic areas. Men’s dress standards are more relaxed, but shorts are not popular. Women who wear immodestly may draw unwelcome male attention. Even in larger cities, avoid strolling in such clothing late at night, and even during the day, avoid venturing out on the roads alone. It’s usually a good idea to have some company.
  • In Pakistani culture, greetings are regarded very important. Men should never touch or shake hands with a lady they don’t know well.
  • Avoid photographing men and women without their permission, since this may get you in hot water. When it comes to strangers photographing them, Pakistanis are very cautious. In addition, owing to recent terrorist actions in the nation, photographing in non-touristy regions may be deemed sensitive.
  • Keep in mind that Pakistanis will feel obligated to go out of their way to accommodate a guest’s request and will claim that doing so is not an inconvenience, even if this is not the case. This, of course, implies that you, as a visitor, have a reciprocal responsibility to take additional care not to be a bother. When paying bills at restaurants or buying purchases, it is usual to engage in a pleasant debate with your host or another member of the party. The etiquette for this is a little tricky.

In a business lunch or supper, it is generally obvious who is responsible for payment up front, so there is no need to argue. However, if you are someone’s personal guest and they take you to a restaurant, you should offer to pay and insist on it. These battles may become a bit amusing, with one side attempting to grab the bill from the other while politely laughing. If you don’t have much expertise with these types of situations, you’re likely to lose the first time, but if that happens, make sure you pay the following time. (And make sure there will be a next time.) Unless the cost is very high, offer to split it only as a last option after they refuse to let you pay it in whole.

When making a purchase, the same rule applies. If you’re buying something for yourself, your hosts may still offer to pay for it if the cost isn’t too expensive, and even if it is. Unless the stakes are very minimal, you should never lose a battle in this scenario. (If the sum is absurdly little, like less than ten dollars, don’t disrespect your hosts by fighting.) Even if you lose the battle to pay the merchant, it is traditional to virtually shove the money into your host’s hands (in a polite manner, of course).

These restrictions do not apply if the host has said explicitly that it is his or her treat, particularly for a special occasion.

  • It is considered impolite to introduce oneself to strangers; instead, you should invite a common friend to do so. Strangers will converse in the “formal” register of Urdu, while conversing in the familiar register will be considered impolite. It is traditional to get up while being presented to seniors or strangers when sitting as a show of respect, and it is recommended to ask a person how they want to be addressed.
  • Avoid scheduling meetings during Ramadan if at all feasible. Because Muslims fast, they will not be able to give you tea, which is considered a gesture of hospitality. Meetings are not held during namaz.
  • When entering a religious structure, such as a mosque or a shrine, remember to remove your shoes. In shrines, there are designated places where your shoes may be kept for a nominal charge, whereas in mosques, there may be racks to keep your shoes, but if they aren’t accessible, you can leave them where others do. Women aren’t usually permitted to attend mosques in Pakistan, therefore they shouldn’t unless there are special circumstances. If they do, they must dress modestly (length skirts and shawls that cover the whole body as well as the arms and legs) and cover their heads with a headscarf or something similar. Men should also dress modestly, not in shorts, since this is considered impolite. Mosques are often off-limits to non-Muslims, therefore it’s best to ask someone at the mosque before going in.
  • When entering a religious structure, such as a mosque or a shrine, remember to remove your shoes. In shrines, there are designated places where your shoes may be kept for a nominal charge, whereas in mosques, there may be racks to keep your shoes, but if they aren’t accessible, you can leave them where others do. Women aren’t usually permitted to attend mosques in Pakistan, therefore they shouldn’t unless there are special circumstances. If they do, they must dress modestly (length skirts and shawls that cover the whole body as well as the arms and legs) and cover their heads with a headscarf or something similar. Men should also dress modestly, not in shorts, since this is considered impolite. Mosques are often off-limits to non-Muslims, therefore it’s best to ask someone at the mosque before going in.