Family Life

Pakistani families are very close, often consisting of grandparents, parents and children living together in the same house. The smaller family is becoming more of a reality in the urban centres. The elderly often live with their children and are treated with great respect. Children tend to accompany their parents to most social events. Important events in the family's life are celebrated with relatives and friends.

Pakistani families are usually large because children are considered to be gifts from God or Allah. Teaching children the beliefs of Islam is considered to be one of the most important responsibilities of family life.

Most Pakistani marriages are arranged. When a couple is married, the bride applies mehndi or henna paste to her hands and feet and the quazi, the religious leader, administers the nikah or marriage contract.

Strong traditions and values influence women's status in the family and in the community. These affect opportunities for education and for work, especially for less privileged women.

When a male baby is born, circumcision is performed in accordance with religious rites. When he is seven days old, the family holds an aqeeqa ceremony, which is a family feast. Both men and women wear the shalwar-kameez, the national dress. This consists of loose pants gathered at the waist and worn with a long shirt. The women's clothing is more colourful, and is worn with a long scarf or dupatta. Some wear a chaddar, which is a shawl or long garment. In the urban areas men are more likely to wear western-style clothes.

Did you know?

The Pakistani are an ethnically diverse people.

Wealthy families and middle-class families live in bungalows or large apartment buildings. Many employ servants to perform various household duties.

In the cities' poorer areas, families live in two or three room dwellings. In rural Pakistan, cooking is still done on small kerosene stoves, clothes are washed on the banks of rivers and water is transported from rivers and wells.