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PHOTO GALLERY: Cash-strapped young Afghans turn to low-cost mass weddings

Expensive, lavish weddings have boomed in war-torn Afghanistan in recent years.

But some young couples are now bucking the trend and saving money - by getting hitched in low-cost mass events.

At the hall entrance of a large-scale ceremony that religious charity Abul Fazel organised, a sign read: “Blessed is the woman who is easily maintained.”

For entertainment, guests were treated to poetry, stage shows, songs by young girls – and a few topical jokes aimed at Afghanistan’s turbulent political year.

There was no dancing.

The Taliban banned showy weddings during their hardline reign from 1996-2001.

But since the US-led invasion ousted them, billions of dollars have poured into Afghanistan’s economy, fuelling the taste for more extravagant weddings.

Showy limousines, huge wedding halls, multiple receptions and parties with hundreds of guests have become almost compulsory.

A single wedding day at a hall in Kabul can now cost between US$10,000 (S$12,700) and US$20,000 (S$25,400) – a gigantic sum in one of the world’s poorest countries.

The bill is not a problem for the country’s rich elite. Less fortunate couples, though, find themselves under huge pressure to keep up.

For those postponing marriage because they're unable to put on a big enough show, the cheaper mass alternative is appealing.


Photos: AFP

“I was engaged for two years, I really could not afford a big wedding party," Mujtaba Rahimi, 24, said.

 Sitting beside his bride, he told AFP: "I heard about this organisation through media. I registered and today I am getting married.”

“It is not an extravagant party, it is more spiritual. I hope more couples are wedded through such weddings and this becomes common in Afghanistan,” he said. - AFP

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