The Afghan parliament has passed a law that makes lavish large expensive weddings illegal.
Big weddings, music and dancing were banned under the Taliban. After the U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime in 2001, Afghans who could afford it started celebrating large, loud and expensive weddings.
But the government says the tradition has become a burden for many particularly the groom’s families who has to pay.
The new law limits the number of wedding guests to 500 and caps the cost per head at around 7 US dollars.
“This law will solve huge problems facing young people that make up the majority of our people. We will need to work in partnership with the public and the media to make sure this law is implemented,” explained Muhammad Abdu a member of the Afghanistan Congress who supported the law.
It comes as a disappointed to 23 years old university student Zahra Nijati.
She has been engaged a year now and was looking forward to a lavish wedding in the coming months.
“No one will respect this new law, it should be a personal decision how much you spend on your wedding. If you have the money then it should be free to spend it on your wedding, if you don’t have money then have a simple party. I want to live in a nice modern house which my finance must pay for,” she said.
Her future husband 28 years old Muhammad Nazar might need some convincing.
He has been saving up money by working in Toronto Cananda and has come back to Kabul for the wedding.
For him the law capping the price people can spend on their weddings comes as a relief.
“I want to have a simple wedding party in line with Islamic teachings. Instead of spending money on my wedding I want to go to Haji and that’s my final decision,” he said while looking at his future wife.
In Afghanistan it’s the groom that needs to pay for the wedding and a walwar to the bride.
37 years old Ahmad Naweed who works as designer in a printing center says he can’t afford to get married.
“I tried to get marry once. My family and I approached a girl but her family gave me a long list of things I had to pay for and they wanted a very expensive wedding which we rejected,” he recalled.
Under the new regulation Hotel owners could face punishment if they host events that break the law.
Under article 4 of the law, only weddings are allowed to be held in hotels and rented halls. All other events such as engagement parties, birthdays, naming of a newborn children and graduations are to be held at home.
Numtaz Mahal hotel is one of the most popular places for wealthier Afghans to get married.
Hundreds of guests are normally invited to events here. Women and men are separated by high wooden walls. The men dance while the women talk.
The groom and his family typically cover all the bills, including food, band, several dresses for the bride and decorations for the couple's throne-like seats.
Muhammad Afzal Akbari who runs two popular wedding Halls in Kabul the law is a disaster.
“If this law is implemented then it will be like closing the doors on all the wedding halls. We can’t control how much a family wants to spend on their wedding. Every person and family has their own culture and way of celebrating and they should be able to do that in a flamboyant way if they want to,” he said.
Owners of big hotels and marriage halls have been putting intense press on politicians to not pass the law.
President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani needs to sign the law before it comes into effect.
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