Afghanistan: collective and austere marriage for 70 couples in Kabul

Afghanistan: collective marriage and austerity for 70 couples in Kabul

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White dress and huge green shawl covering women, traditional tunic for men: some 70 couples got married on Monday in Kabul, Afghanistan , during a collective ceremony to unite at a lower cost, in the presence of armed Taliban.

Important dowries, numerous gifts, lavish parties: a union in a large room in Kabul costs on average between 10,000 and 20,000 dollars, a colossal sum in one of the poorest countries in the world.

For several years, many couples choose to unite without spending such sums during collective ceremonies.

This movement has grown since the Taliban came to power last August. The freezing of billions of assets held abroad and the sudden halt in international aid that followed have led the country into a serious financial and humanitarian crisis.

“I have not We were short of money,” Esmatullah Bashardost, 22, a member of the Shiite Hazara community, told AFP. country.

“Today, no young man wants to carry the burden of an expensive marriage (…) It is difficult to manage these expenses”, abounds Ebadullah Niazai, who waited eight years to get married.

The organizers did not wish to reveal the cost of the ceremony. Several charities provided the couple with essential household items.

All the bride and groom were dressed in a white shalwar kameez – the traditional Afghan tunic – under a blue sleeveless waistcoat, their heads covered with a small flat white hat split above the forehead.

The brides all wore a long white dress under a large shiny green shawl, which completely covered the head and part of the body.

Separated spouses

The future husbands and wives remained separated throughout the ceremony, as were the hundreds of male and female guests, kept at bay by a dozen armed Taliban fighters.

Invited to cover the ceremony, journalists were allowed to photograph and film the future wives, but not to talk to them.

Since their return to power, the Taliban have largely excluded women from public employment, restricted their right to travel, and banned girls from middle and high school.

In early May, the leader Supreme Taliban also issued an edict that women must cover themselves fully in public, including the face, ideally with the burqa, a full veil with a fabric grid at eye level.

Before the arrival of the Taliban, weddings were often the occasion for festive and colorful ceremonies, with dances, traditional songs and music, and a certain degree of mixing between men and women in this deeply conservative nation.

Since the return of the Islamist fundamentalists, large weddings are still authorized, but music is prohibited.

During their first regime, between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban banned ostentatious weddings.

On Monday, guests were treated to nothing but poetry recitations and speeches from the charities organizing the ceremony.

A red wedding cake and white was prepared for each couple, and placed in front of the male bride and groom.

Despite this austerity, Esmatullah Bashardost said her wedding would probably be the “happiest day” of her life.

At the end of the ceremony, the bride and groom, each wearing a plastic badge, with their names, left the scene with their wives in cars decorated with flowers and ribbons. >

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