The Guests and Cultural Values

In the chapter “Waiting between the Trees” of The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, Ying-Ying says complains about her daughter’s way of treating with a guest. It seems she is not pleased with the room her daughter and her husband have allocated as the guest bedroom, for it is not the best bedroom in the house. She indicates that according to Chinese culture, the best room of the house is assigned for the guests.

Like Chinese people, hospitality is one of the characteristic of Afghan people too. A guest in Afghan culture has a high value and respected position. Most Afghans are Muslim, and in Islam a guest should be respected and treated as a friend of God. Therefore, Afghan people provide the best food and the best place of their house for the guests. Even if they are poor, still the try to serve their guest with the best thing they have or the most expensive way they can afford.  I like this tradition because I think it encourages relationship between friends and relatives.

However, sometimes this cultural value can create problems for the families, especially poor families who live under poverty line. In Afghanistan, there are many occasions that families should invite the guests to their house; for example, when a couple gets married, they should invite both bride and groom family, or when a person dies, they should invite his or her family members so that they wouldn’t be alone. Also, when a guest from another city or country comes, all the relatives have to invite him or her for a meal. Imagine if you are from a poor family, living in a big city like Kabul, and so many relatives live with you in the same city. Imagine how many guests you will have in week!!! Most of the family’s budget goes on serving meals for the guests. The budget that is not enough to cover the basic needs of the family members themselves. Sometimes they have to borrow money for keeping their reputation by serving the guests properly, with the expensive food that they don’t eat themselves.

I guess it is good to invite guests and share your happiness and time with friends and relatives, but we should pay attention that what creates joy and a friendly atmosphere in party s is not the expensive food but the smile and respectful treatment of the host. If we come to understand that for showing our good intentions and pure feeling we do not necessarily need materialistic way, we can enjoy the moments we spend with others.

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One Response to The Guests and Cultural Values

  1. Dear Masooma:
    Similar to Afghanistan and China, India also have same respect for the guests. We consider guest as a God too. We serve delicious food and provide best bed to them. However, sometimes these guests are very annoying. I have never experienced such condition in my home, but after watching a movie, I get acquainted with the fact that the guests irate the hosts. The name of the movie is Atithi Tum Kab Jawoge?, The Guest , When Will You Go?, which is very hilarious movie. If you have ever time, then you can watch the movie.
    Thank you

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