Afghans marry in mass ceremony to cut costs | Inquirer News

Afghans marry in mass ceremony to cut costs

/ 05:34 AM December 27, 2023

Afghan grooms look on during a mass wedding in Kabul on Dec. 25. Fifty couples were married that day in that ceremony.

STILL A MILESTONE Afghan grooms look on during a mass wedding in Kabul on Dec. 25. Fifty couples were married that day in that ceremony. —AFP

KABUL — Fifty couples married on Monday in a joint ceremony in the Afghan capital—a growing practice to reduce the astronomical cost of traditional weddings in the impoverished country.

The couples were joined in matrimony in one of the dozens of glitzy wedding halls that punctuate Kabul, but the ceremony itself was somewhat austere.


Since the return of the Taliban in August 2021, weddings have become low-key affairs, with dancing and music effectively banned after authorities deemed such activities un-Islamic.


In front of the City Star wedding hall near the airport, around a hundred turbaned men dressed in traditional shalwar kameez chatted in groups—with not a single woman present.

They decorated cars with green ribbons and red plastic roses forming hearts to carry the newlyweds away.

Roohullah Rezayi, 18, due to leave with his wife in a few hours, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) he could not afford a solo wedding.

“A traditional wedding would have cost us at least 200,000 to 250,000 Afghanis ($2,800 to $3,600), but this time it will be between 10,000 and 15,000 Afghanis,” he said.

Odd jobs

The young man from Ghor province, a member of the Hazara Shiite minority, earns barely 350 Afghanis per day doing odd jobs.

“We invited 35 people from our two families, otherwise it would have been 300 to 400,” said the groom, who had a plastic flower in the breast pocket of his waistcoat worn over a white tunic.


Donations to each couple from the Selab Foundation, which organized the event, are equivalent to $1,600—a huge amount in one of the world’s poorest countries.

They will also leave with a cake, a kit containing toothpaste, shampoo and moisturizer—and a carpet, blanket and a few household appliances to start married life.

Kept out of sight

Hundreds of male guests wrapped in traditional patu shawls attended the ceremony in a large, chilly hall, festooned with garlands.

An official from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice gave a speech, and there were recitations from the Quran.

But the brides-to-be were kept out of sight in a separate wing, and journalists were prohibited from approaching them.

It was only after lunch that the women appeared, fully veiled.

Larger, more pricey weddings in Afghanistan can bring together more than 1,000 guests and cost over $20,000.

For Monday’s mass wedding, 600 couples applied. It has been a long wait for some of the lucky chosen ones.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for three years,” said Samiullah Zamani, a 23-year-old farmer from Kabul province.

“I can’t wait to see her,” he said of his fiancee.

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TAGS: Afghan, Afghanistan, marry, mass wedding, wedding

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