Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Ostentatious Marriages in Poor Country

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Ostentatious Marriages  in Poor Country

With the changing nature of Afghan society, stratification of society into very rich and very poor classes and growing gap between them is becoming evident in the form of various social practices. Among those practices the one that is under consideration of the Justice Ministry at the moment is our marriage system. Marriage system in our country is believed to be spoiled because of the lavish expenditures made in them.

Marriages are organized in marriage halls and top hotels, with thousand of dollars spent to feed various kinds of dishes to thousand of people. Most of the halls charge almost $ 10 per head, which includes the charges of not only the food items but the un-necessary services provided by them, like the decoration of the hall with extensive light work. Only in a single marriage party, throughout a single night, a bride changes almost 10 dresses, spends about six hours for her makeup and is loaded with heavy and expensive jewelry. Apart fromthat there are various other gifts for the bride that are arranged by the groom including many dresses not only for the bride butfor many other relatives of her.

A marriage is meant to be a sort of bond between a husband and a wife and through this bond they are tied in a strong relation to be with each other through every thick and thin of life. It is the life after marriage that matters the most for a couple. Marriage party should serve only as an event, while the married life should be perceived as a process that requires better economic support. If all the money is spent only for a single occasion and the life afterwards is spoiled, it really is a blunder. Apart from that, the marriage ceremonies are social practices. They do have their impacts on overall social norms and values.

If there are marriages with such lavish spending, that would initiate a sort of negative competition among the members of the society for their ostentatious status. Further, such competitions also bring the lower and especially the middle class of the society under immense pressure. Definitely, such marriage parties are not difficult for the business tycoons, political and tribal leaders, and top bureaucrats, but for the ones who are serving in private and public sector as clerks, assistants and middle managers, these marriages can turn into nightmares.

This phenomenon can easily generate corruption, as the people would be needing more than what they earn honestly. Spending extravagantly for marriage parties and arranging them in marriage halls have not been the traditional practices. Earlier, Afghan marriages were mostly conducted in homes with limited number of participants, mostly the ones required for helping hand in the party. But now, as the country is being governed by the rich class who are basically enjoying the dollars that were basically meant for the improvement of the life standard of common people of Afghanistan, the marriage systems have become the opportunities to display status and wealth. Even during the reign of Taliban, costly marriages were not recommended.

In a society, the social practices are the representative of the society's culture. If they are based on high moral values the culture is considered to be rich. But, the marriage system we have been talking about is neither the representative of our culture nor they possess such moral values that can make the culture seem rich. Most of the people of the country still live in the most backward areas of the world with the scarcity of the rudimentary requirements of life while a small number of people are busy in the most extravagant display of wealth. Such practices are going to further widen the gap between the rich and poor strata of the society and are going to make social mobility more difficult, turning the society into a stagnant and non-evolving one.

But it is nice to hear that Justice Ministry is, at least theoretically, interested in curbing the deteriorating state of our marriage system. Justice Minister HabibullahGhaleb has remarked on Sunday, June 19, 2011 about the situation with emphasis on introducing control over the marriages that take place in marriage halls and hotels. He came up with the arguments that such marriages, as prevailing among our people nowadays, are going to break the back of the groom and are creating immoral corruption. They may be the occasion of happiness for few people but for others they are just fire.

There is also a proposed law that is yet to be approved by the parliament. The law is basically meant to put pressure on the ones who opt for lavish spending in the marriage parties and definitely the marriage halls. According to the proposed law, the marriage halls would be obliged to have 300 to 500 guests with in a party, not more than that. The halls violating the law would be charged fine. Apart from that, the groom would be obliged to limit the gifts.

The number of dresses would be limited to two – one for engagement ceremony and the other for marriage party. And there are such other details of the law. The Justice Minister seems to be very much serious about this particular issue. His interest in this regard would really be helpful in dealing with the situation easily, but there are certain concerns. There have been promises by the government on many other issues of more serious nature, as well, but most of them have doomed to failure. Hope this one does not have the same destiny. It should also be hoped that these measures must not be the victim of corruption, which can really double the problems for the people.

Marriage is a sacred institution as far as our society is concerned. It is not meant to be displayed to the people as status symbol rather it must be maintained as a binding force in social interactions and cultural values. It must never be turned into a social evil. Government, in this regard has to carry on its stand and further proceed with such policies in future as well. And the people as well must realize the seriousness of the issue and try to live as responsible citizens of the country that is already facing myriads of problems.

The writer is is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at sherzai@outlookafghanistan.com

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