By Taj Nabi Khan
MARDAN, Mar 21 (APP):The rising trend in following matrimonial traditions and expensive customs have made marriage a dream for many Pakistanis as families from both sides have to make efforts beyond their source of income from dowry to foods, marriage halls to ornaments and property to car and dresses to house decorations to meet the public expectations.
But in such a situation, the unique decision of a bride from a remote area of the country has become an example to abolish one of the self-imposed wrong customs in wedlock. The newly wedded couple, Dr Sajjad Jwandoon and Naila Shamal, who married last Sunday in Bhai Khan Kelly, Rustum, Mardan has decided to set a new trend for bringing about a positive social change in the society.
The couple has captured attention of the public on social media with their unique approach to their wedlock jointure in lien of dower. The video message of the bride has widely circulated on social media when she has demanded books of Rs. 1,00,000/- in her haq mehr (jointure) for which her husband gladly agreed to fulfill.
Instead of asking for material wealth: car, cash, gold or plot in jointure, the highly educated bride has made a history by setting an example of simple yet unique and elegant wedlock demand for the general public.
At the heart of the decision was actually the revival of dying book reading culture in Pakistan. The bride has promoted importance of books for mental growth — that inculcates tolerance and respect for plurality and opposite opinions among the youngsters.
Talking to APP, Naila Shamal, the bride, also a PhD Scholar in literature, has said that positive change begins rightly from one’s own self and for this one should also be ready to sustain public pressure and criticism. She said, “I showed respect for books and the public has bestowed me with honor and appreciations beyond my expectations.”
She has urged the youngsters to learn tolerance and spread optimism in the society. The demanded books would be made freely available for the general public, particularly for girl students of the vicinity, she added.
Dr Sajjad Jwandoon, the bridegroom, a PhD in literature, while talking to the news agency has said that it was the personal demand of the bride to demonstrate her love for book reading culture and education.
While highlighting the role of books in the society, he said, “There was no greater asset than that of books for the researchers and avid readers.” Referring to his bedroom, he lightly said, “It was far better to live in a library than a crockery shop.” The list of books consisted of general information, history, Urdu, English and Pashto literature books, he added.
Naila Shamal said, “The option was with you as either you have to suppress positive thinking and surrender to public pressure in following the existing social norms or you have to spread optimism by becoming an example.” She said, “We have opted for the second option to bring about positive social reforms in the society in centuries-long matrimonial traditions.” The world has become a global village that seeks reformation and transformation for evolving and adopting the existing social norms to make them affordable for everyone, she added.
It is worth mentioning that both the husband and wife are academics, research scholars of Pashto literature, gold medalist in their masters’ degrees and published creative and academic writers. The couple seemed to have registered their protest against costly rituals of marriages, huge display of wealth, bigger demands of brides and curse of dowry.
The social values cannot resist against the inevitable social change — the new trend is expected to continue with more rational demands in wedlock tradition.
Uzair Nomani, Rustam, Mardan based working journalist while talking to APP has said the pleasure in physical reading has no substitute. Quoting Francis Bacon, he said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” He said the wedlock has rationalized the utility of haq mehr, adding that such steps were a ray of hope in otherwise conservative society.
The demand of books from the bride has also encouraged girls’ education, positive thinking, and the dying book reading culture in the country, he added.
Masroor Ahmad, a social activist hailing from Sawal Dher, Mardan has said the couple has laid the foundation for bringing about a positive change in the society by making the marriage ceremony easy and affordable for the common people. He said, “This marriage was also unique due to the display of photos and names of both the bride and bridegroom on the wedding cards along with the viral videos to local media on demanding books.” Positive social change can only take place when minds of the girls get equipped with higher education, he added.