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Tashkent Mayor Seeks To Tone Down Extravagant Weddings

Uzbek weddings are usually extremely elaborate affairs. (file photo)
Uzbek weddings are usually extremely elaborate affairs. (file photo)
Planning a lavish wedding? Then it's best to avoid the Uzbek capital.

Tashkent's mayor has imposed strict new regulations on weddings, funerals, and other family celebrations.

The rules, outlined in a September 10 decree by Mayor Rakhmonbek Usmanov, aim to limit the cost, number of guests, and duration of such events, which he says have become increasingly "pompous" and "extremely wasteful" -- and need to be toned down.

“The parties should therefore be smaller, cozier, and conducted in an orderly fashion," Usmanov wrote in the decree, which was published on his official website. "It is very important to make them smaller and more formal."

Across Central Asia, lavish weddings and funerals are the norm, with families often spending their entire life savings on them.

In Kazakhstan, for example, wedding parties can last up to seven days and sometimes cost tens of thousands of dollars. Even a "chapan," the traditional overcoat that Kazakh families are expected to present as a gift to their new in-laws, can cost as much as $5,000.

In Uzbekistan, the smallest of weddings typically involves at least 300 guests.

But that's about to change, at least in the country's capital.

Under the new decree, families holding weddings in Tashkent will only be able to invite a maximum of 100 guests. The rule will also apply to funerals and other gatherings.

Families will be obliged to sign a contract with the owner of the venue, settling on the price and number of guests prior to the ceremony.

Strict curfews will also be imposed. Festivities can now only take place between specific hours: 7 a.m.-9 a.m., 12 p.m.-4 p.m., and 6 p.m.-11 p.m.

Additionally, all religious officials presiding over wedding ceremonies will have to be officially registered with the Justice Ministry.

And what about music?

Those wishing to break into an impromptu performance at their friends' or relatives' wedding won't be able to do so easily. Under the new regulations, all singers and performers will have to obtain a new license prior to their performance.

The mayor's office says the new decree is aimed at "bringing order to parties taking place in the capital and establishing a legal relationship between the two sides."

The new rules in Tashkent mirror similar restrictions enacted in Tajikistan five years ago.

In May 2007, the Tajik parliament officially banned large expenditures for weddings and other family celebrations.

The legislation came after President Emomali Rahmon noted that Tajiks were spending $1.5 billion on private ceremonies each year, while the country's annual budget at the time was around $1 billion.

The Tajik law limits things like the number of wedding guests and the cost of gifts. There have also been reports of government officials being present at Tajik weddings to monitor whether the rules were being observed.

It is unclear how the mayor’s decree will be monitored in Tashkent, and whether, following in Tajikistan’s footsteps, it will eventually be implemented on a nationwide scale.

-- Deana Kjuka & RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

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