KABUL: Fifty couples tied the knot in a mass wedding ceremony on Monday, reflecting a growing trend aimed at curbing the exorbitant expenses associated with traditional weddings in Afghanistan.
The event took place in one of the many lavish wedding halls in the city, but the ceremony itself was relatively simple due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban since their return in August 2021. Dancing and music, considered un-Islamic, have been effectively prohibited.
Adjacent to the City Star wedding hall near the airport, a gathering of about a hundred turbaned men, clad in traditional shalwar kameez, engaged in conversation—no women were present. The celebrants adorned cars with green ribbons and red plastic roses arranged in heart shapes to escort the newlyweds.
Roohullah Rezayi, an 18-year-old groom, shared that he couldn’t afford a conventional wedding. “A traditional wedding would have cost us at least 200,000 to 250,000 Afghanis ($2,800 to $3,600), but this time it will be between 10,000 and 15,000 Afghanis,” he said. Rezayi, a member of the Hazara Shiite minority from Ghor province, earns a meager 350 Afghanis per day through odd jobs.
The event was organized by the Selab Foundation, which provided each couple with donations equivalent to $1,600—a substantial sum in one of the world’s poorest nations. Additionally, couples received a cake, a kit with toothpaste, shampoo, and moisturizer, as well as a carpet, blanket, and a few household items to help kickstart their married life.
Over 600 Couples Vie for Spots in Mass Wedding Ceremony
The ceremony, attended by hundreds of male guests wrapped in traditional patu shawls, took place in a large, chilly hall adorned with garlands. An official from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice delivered a speech, and Quranic recitations were performed. The brides-to-be remained out of sight until after lunch, when they emerged fully veiled.
In Afghanistan, elaborate weddings with over 1,000 guests can cost upwards of $20,000. For this mass wedding on Monday, 600 couples applied, making the selection process competitive.
Samiullah Zamani, a 23-year-old farmer from Kabul province, expressed his anticipation, saying, “I’ve been waiting for this day for three years. I can’t wait to see her.”