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My Slimmed-Down Uzbek Wedding: Singers Use Videos To Show Displeasure With New Limits

Ozoda Nursaidova is one of several prominent Uzbek singers who say their wedding work puts food on the table for several people. (file photo)
Ozoda Nursaidova is one of several prominent Uzbek singers who say their wedding work puts food on the table for several people. (file photo)

Uzbek singers are crooning their unhappiness at an official law limiting the number of performers at weddings -- part of new regulations aimed at curbing big spending at the often mammoth nuptial events.

Adopted by parliament in September, the law caps the number of musical groups performing at weddings to just two, among other restrictions on guests and vehicles used in the matrimonial motorcades.

Weddings in Uzbekistan -- and other Central Asian countries -- quite often have many hundreds of guests and the wedding banquets usually include performances by several different bands.

Such colossal events can wipe out a family's savings or even put it deep in debt.

The new legislation in Uzbekistan hopes to reduce the financial burden for families.

But several well-known Uzbek singers took to social media to point out that their work performing at weddings creates a source of income that supports dozens of people and usually puts tidy sums in the pockets of the singers.

Source Of Income For Dozens

On Instagram, singer Munisa Rizaeva explained in a video how several families benefit from the money she earns at weddings.

Rizaeva said she charges $800 just to sing four songs at a wedding banquet.

From that amount she pays a total of $450 to members of her entourage that consists of six musicians, two administrators, two drivers, and two bodyguards -- who have 36 family members between them, the post said.

According to the post, the singer herself is left with $350 for her day's work at just one wedding, though she said she must share the money with 41 other people who help write her songs, make videos, and arrange her TV and radio appearances.

"My earnings benefit nearly 150 people per month," Rizaeva told her more than 3.1 million Instagram followers.

Several Uzbek stars have spoken out on social media against the curbs on weddings.
Several Uzbek stars have spoken out on social media against the curbs on weddings.

Singer Ozoda Nursaidova, who has more than 1 million followers on Instagram, shared a post that details how prominent Uzbek singers generate a source of income for dozens of people.

Nursaidova wrote that she charges $1,000 to perform five songs at a wedding. Her entourage consists of seven musicians, two drivers, and an administrator who, in total, have 30 family members.

Nursaidova said she pays the entourage $400 and leaves herself $600, which she then shares with 18 other people, including songwriters and video-clip makers.

Significant Cutbacks

Other prominent singers in the video include Rayhon, Ulugbek Rahmatullayev, Mavluda Asalkhojayeva, Rashid Holiqov, Shahzoda, Jahongir Otajonov, Farrux Zokirov, and Yulduz Usmonova.

The new regulation on weddings and other private social functions also allows for a maximum of 250 guests and up to three cars in the wedding convoy.

It's a significant curb for a country where inviting at least 400 guests and hiring a long motorcade of expensive cars for the bride and groom and their friends is the norm.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev (file photo)
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev (file photo)

Families often save for many years or borrow from relatives to throw the lavish wedding banquets, which were once criticized by President Shavkat Mirziyoev as shameless spending.

"Instead of spending [for wasteful parties], you had better paint the home of a poor man or buy a TV set for his family," he said in 2018.

With jobs hard to come by, millions of Uzbeks work as migrant laborers in Russia and many other countries to earn a living.

The weddings and other private gatherings -- such as funerals and birthday parties -- put an enormous strain on many households in Uzbekistan, where the average salary is about 2.1 million soms a month (about $250).

Neighboring Tajikistan has also outlawed gigantic weddings and other private parties, and penalizes offenders who violate the ban.

Written by Farangis Najibullah based on reporting by the Shukhrat Bobojon from RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

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