September 20, 2019 / 4:56 PM / a month ago

Uzbekistan bars lavish debt-trap weddings

TASHKENT (Reuters) - Not more than 250 guests, two music bands, and a maximum of three posh cars in a motorcades – such are the new wedding regulations adopted by the Uzbek parliament this week in an attempt to curb excessive spending and social discord.

While an average Uzbek living in the capital Tashkent or one of the Central Asian nation’s other big cities takes home between $200 and $300 a month, the families of a bride and a groom are likely to spend some $20,000 on the wedding.

That money is often borrowed from friends or relatives to be repaid with great pains over following years - but traditions and peer pressure force families to bite the bullet.

“Our weddings have reached the level where they can bankrupt the country without any war,” local news website Kun.uz quoted senator Iqbol Mirzo as saying on Friday as he commented on the regulations which take effect next year.

Many Uzbeks work abroad, mainly in Russia, to support their families back at home and their money is mostly spent on house renovations and wedding ceremonies.

The restrictions have been eased somewhat compared with initial proposals due to public outcry - the draft version, for example, suggested limiting the number of guests at wedding parties to 150.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has also criticized lavish weddings, saying they often cause people in their fifties to die from strokes or heart attacks after failing to repay debts.

The new regulations spell out how weddings and other ceremonies such as birthday parties or funerals should be held and authorizes local authorities, including police, tax inspectors, and state prosecutors to monitor the ceremonies.

Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Editing by Alistair Bell

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