A Tajik Wedding
Most of you probably already know this, but I will start this posting with a disclaimer: I’m not a big fan of weddings. I’m not against the concept of weddings, I just don’t like how much stress and money goes into preparing what should be one of the happier moments of your life. And, unfortunately, the extravagance that accompanies most weddings in the U.S. is not a foreign concept here in Tajikistan. Up until last summer, the happy couple would be expected to throw an exuberant, multi-day affair with 500-1000 of their closest friends.
I know what you’re thinking: you don’t even know 500-1000 people, right? Well, that’s because you’re not thinking hard enough….you’re forgetting that you need to invite your brother’s coworkers and your neighbor’s aunt. In addition to feeding all of them, you would be expected to provide housing and cover travel expenses for those who were visiting from out of town. Families have gone into debt, or sent their men off to work in Russia, just to pay for their children’s weddings.
I will admit, 500-1000 people is over the top, no matter what country you’re from. But what are you going to do, make it illegal? Well, that’s what the President of Tajikistan decided to do last summer. He set a cap of 150 people for all wedding celebrations (and funerals….because, yes, they can be equally as debt-inspiring). Considering these recent constraints, I was feeling pretty flattered to be invited to my first Tajik wedding.
Overall, it was a pretty amazing event. The bride and groom were welcomed by loud horns and drums; the guests were fed approximately 8-10 plates of food each (notice how the plates are stacked on top of one another in the pic); the families danced for several hours straight; and the bride spent the entire evening bowing in gratitude to the guests. As always, everyone was a gracious host to me: I was invited to sit at the head table, was welcomed by many of the families’ elders; and learned how to dance. Despite my general disdain for weddings, I had a great time.
Although, in the event that you one day find yourself at a Tajik wedding, I will offer some sage advice…..if someone asks if you would like to congratulate the bride, kindly decline. Otherwise, you will find yourself standing on a podium, with a microphone in hand, making a speech for the new couple, whose names you do not know.
Here’s a short video of the horns, dancers, and bowing bride:
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