x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Happiness is hectic - and halal

Happiness is a big fat, Muslim wedding

I'm suffering a halal hangover from a very big very halal family wedding. The newlyweds have sped off on their honeymoon, no doubt sleeping off the hectic nuptials. But while the happy couple are supping the delights of exotic luxury in the Maldives, I'm left behind with my pile of laundry, my half-unpacked suitcase and nursing a three-day-old sleep deprivation headache.

Three entire months of family celebration culminated last weekend with a double bill of all day and (almost) all-night festivities. The couple looked delirious with wedded bliss. The rest of us enjoyed the opportunity for a rare family get together.

But before you think I've gone all Pollyanna about big family weddings, I can give my verdict on the event in two simple words: I survived. There was no alcohol, no loud banging music, plenty of sobriety and good grace. Yet here I am, cuddled up in my pyjamas, with a soul-churning flu, trying to recover from what can only be classed as too much fun, an excess of social mingling, not enough sleep and way too much food.

Yes, the Big Fat Wedding - the joy and envy of many cultures - brings with it many pitfalls: the multitudes of people in close proximity; hyperactive and overexcited children; and of course, constant wardrobe worries (what to wear, when to iron, how much make-up, the list goes on).

But it was also enjoyable simply because it was so hectic. There were too many calories, excessive excitement, family history and family drama. And that's what made it so enjoyable.

I took clothes that needed no ironing. Who has time to iron when you need to catch up with long lost relatives? And I've yet to use a hotel iron that actually gets rid of creases. I was also a good cheerleader for the couple: it's their day after all.

I picked my clothes knowing the wedding photos will be passed down through generations. A granny with good fashion sense is an important legacy for my grandchildren.

The person who enjoyed the event the most - after the bride and groom of course - was my 20-month-old baby, so excited by her "pretty dress" and two days running wild across wedding venues with a gang of babies, mafia-style. I remember doing the same as a child.

For the rest of us married types, the wedding was a chance to remember our own special day, stare lovingly at our significant other, and sigh at the rapid passing of that years, wondering if we still fit into our own wedding clothes.

To which the answer - I'm proud to say - is yes.


Shelina Zahra Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf and blogs at www.spirit21.co.uk