Fifty more Afghan couples marry in mass ceremony
(AFP) 18 August 2008 – MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan – Fifty Afghan couples were married in northern Afghanistan on Monday, a day after a similar mass marriage in another city that was believed to the first of its kind in the country.
The grooms and brides — wearing all-covering white veils and clutching red roses — tied the knot in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in a ceremony sponsored by an Islamic Shi’ite charity, an AFP reporter said.
Afterwards, the newlyweds filed into 50 cars decorated with ribbons and flowers and were taken on a tour of the city.
A charity, in the name of leading Iraqi cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, covered the wedding costs.
The couples were all Shi’ite, a minority in Afghanistan, and were chosen after it was confirmed they did not have the money to pay for a wedding, said Hashimi, a representative of the charity.
Each couple received gifts of 600 dollars, a carpet and a radio, officials said.
One of the grooms, 27-year-old Ghulam Sakhi, said he had been engaged for six years but could not afford a wedding.
Another, 22-year-old Hamidullah, said he had been waiting three years to marry and was pleased to have qualified for the mass wedding.
“I have been engaged for three years but did not have the money for the wedding party,” he told AFP. “I thank him and wish that thousands of people can be married the same way.”
Another 50 couples were married late Sunday in a similar ceremony funded by another Islamic charity in the western city of Herat.
Marriage is a costly affair in destitute Afghanistan, involving huge dowries, expensive gifts and lavish parties with hundreds of guests.