Customs & Traditions in Pakistan
Updated: May 5
General & food Traditions
Pakistani do not use first names, unless among close friends.
You have to use titles it shows respect.
Pakistani cuisine, given the variety of ethnicity and geography, is very diverse. However, you can be assured of two things:
1. Red meat is halal and slaughtered according to Islam; and
2.Pork is forbidden and impossible to find.
Curry and spices are used very often in Pakistani cuisine, as a consequence, plain white rice is the most common side dish. Lentils are also very common.
Southern Pakistani food is much spicier.
Pakistani drink green tea throughout the day.
As for Pakistani dresses, you will find that Pakistani are very formal, and also respectful of the Islamic code.
Women's clothes are also conservative, covering the skin and very loose.
Pakistani men are required to cover their bodies between the navel and the knee.
There are specific topics that you can't talk about it with Pakistanis that you do not have a close relationship with like: Dating, Challenging Islamic beliefs, Alcohol, Sex, Homosexuality.
Loyalty to family is the most important thing in Pakistani lives.
The mother is the main caregiver for her children and the kids spend the majority of their time with her.
The extended family also plays a key role in a child’s socialization and will support the child’s care.
Living close to the extended family also emphasizes the transmission of Pakistani customs and traditions across generations.
Casual dating is disapproved and many marriages are arranged by the family elders even today.
When there is no marriage arrangement, parent approval is still necessary, marriage is seen as a responsibility of the parents, especially due to the need of protecting the family’s honor.
The newborn child is also swaddled in a piece of clothing that once belonged to the grandfather.
Where possible, the paternal grandfather is asked to name a newborn child.
Following Islamic tradition, once a name has been given, the child’s head is shaved and the weight of the hair is used to determine an equal weight in gold or silver which is then given as a charitable contribution.
Women stay at home and men go to work. When a woman works, they are usually involved in fields such as nursing or teaching or manage her own businesses.
The reason the women stay at home is that Pakistani families are larger (6 children is considered normal) and the woman is responsible for raising the children, along with the extended family as well.
Islamic values such as prayer, ablution, fasting, respect elders...etc are implanted from early childhood.
Hiring relatives is a common practice that has a positive spin in Pakistani culture, due to the high sense of loyalty.
Forming new relationships is very important in Pakistan.
It is very inappropriate when someone asks questions to a Pakistani about any of their female relatives, especially their wives.
Women have the same rights as men, including voting and being educated.
The majority of Pakistani names are derived from Arabic, Turkish and Persian names.
Children may be given one, two, or sometimes even three names at birth.
If the person has more than one given name, one of them is chosen as the person’s most called name, by which he is referred to informally.
Pakistani names usually include a name that identifies a person’s class or other status indicators.
For females, tribal names or titles rarely feature in the person’s full name.
Instead, her full name would be composed of her given names only, or if given only one name, her given name together with her father’s most called name.
After marriage, the full name would be her most called name appended with her husband’s most called name.
Meeting & Greeting
Greet the elders first.
Greetings are often between members of the same sex.
Males tend to shake hands with each other but once a stronger relationship is developed, they may hug as well as shaking hands.
Females generally hug and kiss each other.
Pakistanis take their time during greetings and ask about the person's health, family, and business success.
Visiting a home
When entering a Pakistani home, usually you will need to remove your shoes. Check to see if the host is wearing shoes. If not, remove yours at the door.
Arrive approximately 15 minutes later than the stipulated time when invited to dinner or a small gathering.
You may arrive up to one hour later than the stipulated time when invited to a party.
Show respect for the elders by greeting them first.
You will probably be served tea since it is considered a sign of hospitality.
If invited to a Pakistani's home, bring a small gift to the hostess, such as flowers(non-white, which are only for weddings) or good quality chocolates.
Men should avoid giving flowers to women.
If a man must give a gift to a woman, he should say that it is from his wife, mother, sister, or some other female relative.
Gifts are given with two hands.
Do not give alcohol.
Your host will not open your gift when receiving it.
Dining & Food
In more rural areas, it is still common to eat meals from a knee-high round table while sitting on the floor.
Many people in urban areas do not use eating utensils, although more westernized families do so you have to eat with your right hand.
When in doubt, watch what others are doing and emulate their behavior.
Guests are served first but do not start eating until the oldest person at the table begins.
The hostess will serve the oldest after the guest until the youngest is served.
You will be urged to take second and even third helpings.
Saying "I'm full" will be taken as a polite gesture and not accepted at face value.
Pakistanis are hospitable and enjoy hosting foreign guests.
Pakistanis prefer to work with people they know and trust and will spend a great deal of time on the getting-to-know-you part of relationship building.
Relationships take time to grow and must be nurtured. This may require several visits.
Pakistanis often ask personal questions as a way to get to know you as a person. If possible, it is best to answer these questions.
Direct statements are made only to those with whom they have a long-standing personal relationship.
Pakistanis prefer to converse in a non-controversial manner, so they will say they "will try" rather than admit that they cannot or will not be able to do something.
Therefore, it is important to ask questions in several ways so you can be certain of what was meant by a vague response.
Silence is often used as a communication tool.
Pakistanis prefer to do business in person.
Pakistanis do not require as much personal space as most western cultures.
As such, they will stand close to you while conversing and you may feel as if your personal space has been violated. Do not back away.