Tashkent bans “lavish” weddings
Homebase, Politics and Society, UzbekistanOne Comment
It is no surprise that in countries where demos do not have much say governments can and do “insistingly recommend” living lives in a certain way. The Tashkent mayor Rakhmonbek Usmonov thought so too and issued a decree regulating wedding ceremonies, RFE/RL’s Uzbek service reported. According to the decree, the wedding parties are to be concluded by 10PM. The reasons behind limiting the time are quite noble: noise pollution, regulating working hours in restaurants hosting wedding ceremonies, etc.While the justifications seem noble, it is not easy to implement. Like with many laws and regulations, the rich and powers that be defy and poor ones comply. Besides, the decree reads the penalty for breaking the regulation is a “public discussion” (and presumably condemnation) of the violator’s act. According to some Tashkent residents, the penalty has so far been enforced by police officers who show up at a wedding ceremony at 10PM and simply pull the microphone cord out of socket. Of course, wedding ceremonies of those who do not hold a government position or are not rich enough to keep police out and away from stopping wedding ceremonies (yes, that is possible).
I think it is telling that the decree was issued in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. The residents of the city are able to throw big wedding parties unlike provinces. For instance, an average (if that’s an appropriate term to use) wedding ceremony in Tashkent can cost around 30,000 USD. A wedding in, say, Namangan in eastern Uzbekistan would drain the hosts’ wallets by some 6,000 USD. According to a Namangan resident, the “affordable” price tag is the result of abstinence from alcohol, i.e. no spirits served during wedding parties.
According to official information, an average salary in Uzbekistan is around 500,000 Uzbek soums, which would be 250 US dollars. Again, 250 USD according to the official exchange rate (1 USD=2,000 UZS), whereas the market value of the Uzbek soum is around 3,000 soums for a dollar, i.e 500,000 is just over 160 USD.
So to be able to save for a 6,000-dollar “modest” wedding, a family must be saving for over 3 years without eating, drinking or clothing themselves. Since they do have to eat and drink, the period is even longer. Now, that is given that a family has a stable income of 160 USD/month, which not always, if at all, is the case. Uzbek parents then have to resort to a good old tradition–borrowing money for a “decent” wedding for their children and pay it off during the rest of their lives. Luckily, it is not always so. While the Uzbek government adamantly declines reports on Uzbek labor migrants abroad, unemployed Uzbek nationals travel to foreign countries and remit money back home. Various estimates suggest the remittances from abroad make a whopping 1.5 billion USD annually.
While Tashkent also “enjoys” a big number of internal migrants, those throwing lavish wedding parties are mostly, if not only, Tashkent natives. So it should be no surprise that the capital city officials’ decrees differ from those of their provincial peers in issues that are supposedly equally important for both.
Although it was not possible to find the actual mayoral decree on the Tashkent City administration’s website, some brief information on wedding ceremonies is available here.