Extravagant weddings, a mainstay of modern Afghan life and an important measure of social status, were banned by the Taliban, which also outlawed beauty parlors and the instrumental music that is traditional at wedding parties.
But since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, the Afghan wedding industry has rebounded and is now bigger than ever. The growth is reflected in the proliferation of wedding halls, garish palaces of mirrored blue glass and blinking neon lights that glow incongruously among the country’s dusty streets and mud-and-cinder-block homes. The number in Kabul alone has risen to more than 80 today from four in 2001.
This freedom has been a mixed blessing. While bridegrooms and their families are free to have the huge weddings that tradition demands, they are once again left with bills that plunge them into crushing debt.
Moderate guest lists can top 600 people; the biggest exceed 2,000.
The bridegroom is also responsible for jewelry, flowers, two gowns for the bride, two suits for himself, a visit to the beauty salon for the bride and her closest female relatives, as well as a sound system for the wedding, a photographer and a videography team with a pair of cameramen.
All that, plus the dowry, known as the bride price, can run a middle-class Afghan man on average $20,000, dozens of Afghans said in interviews .
Even the poor do not scrimp. A laborer, for instance, making about the average per capita income of $350 per year, may well spend more than $2,000 for his wedding, Afghans say.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Afghans are infected with the madness too, according to the New York Times [free registration required]. Here's the gist:
Posted by Ben at 1/24/2008