Why Mahira’s dream wedding doubled as a personal win for women | The Express Tribune


KARACHI:

As I lay in bed, a notification from my work group interrupted my mindless doom-scrolling. I toggled over to WhatsApp, staring intently at the video before me. A lavish white train, preceded by a woman walking towards a man clad in black, played before me. The woman made her way to the man, her shoulders heaving, and, in a moment of bliss crossed with ecstasy, they embraced, holding each other tenderly. 

My brain itched with an inkling. We’d all heard that a gigantic star was to tie the knot soon. The star’s brother and manager had shared the videos. However, all suspicions were confirmed when another video dropped. This time around, an ethereal Mahira Khan floated gracefully towards the man to whom she had promised the next part of her life. Salim Karim, in a heartwarming and vital display of emotions, wiped tears from his eyes. Mahira made her way towards him, and he lifted her veil. They exchanged a look that was embellished by a sense of gratitude, almost as if they swapped a latent, “We made it,” in the moment. 

As the news broke, varying reactions poured in. The initial surprise paved the path for an influx of congratulatory messages. The biggest star in the country, who was previously co-parenting a son with her former spouse, had remarried in her late thirties. The optics of the situation mattered, and were, in many ways, a significant social statement. No one tries or wants, of course, to create a dent in the fabric of societal norms with a thoroughly private decision. But when you’re one of the most successful stars in the country, that may not be a consequence in your control. It is thus that, to many, Mahira’s dream wedding doubled as a personal triumph. 

“As someone who found love again at 27, two years after my divorce, it’s incredibly powerful to see women not only finding love again but also celebrating it,” shared freelance writer Rutaba Lodhi. “In our society, if there’s anything more frowned upon than divorce, it is a divorcee woman marrying again on her terms. It’s beautiful to see her and others in this unlikely position of power, a privilege in most cases, where they don’t marry again to settle, but for love.” 

Rutaba continued, “To me, it’s as personal as it is profound and relatable. For far too long, we have made women believe they’re damaged goods after a divorce and there is no place in society for them as single mothers to ever find love. So, yes it’s a personal feat for Mahira, sure, but it is just as incredibly ownable to women who have found themselves in her position unable to move forward because that’s the way of the world.”

The Citizen Foundation’s Aiman Masood echoed these thoughts. “South Asian women are constantly told to put their marriage before all else. Once you have the label of ‘divorce’, you are a failure. Mahira actually gave many young girls hope by showing that it’s okay if things don’t work out and that it’s not the end of the world,” she said. 

“Mahira’s wedding conveys a message of empowerment, breaking societal norms, and embracing personal happiness regardless of age or marital status,” added homemaker Mariam Muneeb. “It challenges traditional stereotypes and showcases that love and companionship are not limited by societal expectations. Her choice to remarry in her late 30s signifies independence and the right to pursue one’s own happiness, setting an inspiring example for others.”

Marketing executive Atiqa Akbar highlighted, “As a Mahira fan, I’ve seen her give so much to the country. I’ve seen her represent Pakistan on international platforms, stand up for worthy causes, pick and choose meaningful projects, build multiple brands, and remain humble through it all. She has an air of warmth and kindness and you never seem to see her smile slip. [Thus], it feels nice to see her get some much-deserved happiness in life. Also, as a recently divorced woman, it feels nice to see someone with that kind of influence getting a second chance at happiness and celebrating it so beautifully.”

Marketer Bilal Alvi highlighted, “Mahira is a successful woman with a thriving career, a teenage child, and a man who loves her so much, that he got teary-eyed when seeing her. It makes me believe in the power of love all over again. The world sees her as a lucky woman who has everything, but those who have followed her journey from the start are aware that she has had a lot of issues thrown at her, professionally as well as personally. She is the biggest superstar in the country and that is a heavy crown to wear. It is heartwarming to see her rise above it all and reclaim her happiness. She’s not just breaking stereotypes, she has reinforced belief in love and second chances.”

However, amidst the celebration, there were those who found a way to criticise the star’s choices. Be it her Faraz Manan attire, her slow walk towards Salim, the setting, or a comparison of finances – many found a way to put a woman down at her happiest. “You would think at least this one day, people would keep their unsolicited opinions aside, and let someone enjoy their moment,” shared college senior Shaem Siddiqi. “You don’t have to like it, but you can be respectful towards it. Not everything needs to be commented on, especially when it simply does not concern you.” 

Specifically addressing the critique of her attire, Aiman shared, “I feel like this colour perfectly captures the essence of elegance and simplicity. Most of the Muslim weddings in other countries are actually done in a similar manner. She didn’t go for a loud colour like red, and it’s okay, that’s her personal choice. It was her wedding at the end of the day.” Bilal added, “I didn’t notice the attire. I was too occupied by the pure bliss of the moment. Unfortunately, negativity seems to have seeped in so deep into our people that they seem to be able to find fault in even the simplest happy moments of someone’s life. This is something to reflect on and hopefully change.”

Creative lead Urooj Javed stated, “The criticism of Mahira’s choice of attire is problematic. What else can you expect from a male-dominant society? They will comment on anything and everything. It’s important to focus on celebrating her agency, independence, and her right to live her life on her own terms, without being subjected to unwarranted scrutiny or judgment.”

Baseless critique and inconsequential envy aside, no one can take away from Mahira’s big day. As a star who has given her all to her country, her win is our win. Her marriage “conveys the message of hope,” according to Shaem, and “their union is a testament to the fact that there is no right or wrong time for marriage, just the right or wrong person.” Mahira now stands firm as a reminder that the darkest night must give way to the morning light, paving a path for the most mesmerising form of illumination.

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