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The return of the horse-drawn carriage.

Byline: Aamir Yasin

Once a means of transport, the use of horse-drawn carriages are now in vogue at weddings.

They are rented by marriage halls, event management companies and private individuals at weddings for people who want something other than luxury cars decorated with flowers to travel on.

Many of these majestic, two-horse carriages with their bright, multi-coloured umbrellas, flowers and streamers can be found in Committee Chowk, near the Shabistan cinema.

The coachmen can be seen waiting for customers or are busy decorating the carriages.

Many of these majestic, two-horse carriages with their bright, multi-coloured umbrellas and streamers can be found in Committee Chowk

'My father, Mohammad Ibrahim, was a coachman and we have been in this business for three generations. After people stopped using tongas as a means of transport a decade ago, we started renting the buggies for weddings,' said Mohammad Badshah, owner of one of the carriages.

Badshah also owns three dancing horses which he also rents for weddings.

'People hire our services for mehndi and baraat functions. A horse named Black Kobra is the best dancing horse in the Dhoke Khabba area,' he said.

Badshah's buggy was elegantly decorated.

However, he said, the buggies are decorated as per the desire of the customers and that most people want the open buggy decorated with fresh flowers.

He added that a decorated buggy is usually rented for Rs6,000 per three hours and that the trend for using buggies was increasing in the inner city areas especially.

The use of horse-drawn carriages is not limited to weddings, however.

'During the general elections, politicians hire buggies for three or four hours to go to public meetings. Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid and veteran politicians Javed Hashmi and Chaudhry Tanveer used these buggies in the 2013elections and the local government elections in 2015,' Badshah said.

He said the days leading up to the next general elections will be good for business.

'We earn for eight months a year as no functions are held during Muharram, Safar, Shaban and Ramazan and we have to earn enough beforehand to feed the family and the horses,' he said.

Sitting on a roadside bench and burning wood, 70-year-old Mohammad Malik, who also owns a horse-drawn carriage in Committee Chowk, said that in the past, white horses were rented for wedding and that the trend has now changed so that people demand decorated buggies on the big day.

He said his buggy is also hired for birthday functions and for the arrival of pilgrims.

'Keeping a horse in the city is not easy and it is difficult to get healthcare for them after the veterinary hospital was moved from Committee Chowk to Sihala,' he said.

Mr Malik recalled a jeweller who had hired his horses and buggy for his wedding and said he had given him gold ornaments for the horses.

'If the customer is providing their own decorations, we return them after the function. We only charge the usual rent,' he said.

Raja Irfan, a resident of Dhoke Khabba who recently hired a horse-drawn carriage for his wedding, said his wife wanted the wedding procession to come to the hall with a buggy.

'I had it decorated with fresh flowers,' he said.

'Most wedding functions are at night. Fireworks, candles, traditional horse-drawn carriages are the pain parts of wedding decor.

'Everyone wants their big day to be special. Some want a luxury car and other want a traditional horse-drawn carriage,' said a wedding planner in Satellite Town.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Feb 11, 2018
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