Uzbeks move to regulate large social gatherings

New guidelines aim to limit size, time, and cost of events such as weddings to promote responsibility and modesty.

By Shakar Saadi


TASHKENT – The Tashkent municipal government recently moved to regulate family celebrations and other events with more than 100 guests at wedding halls, restaurants and cafes across the capital.

The move comes because many such events spiral out of control – lasting all day and night, costing a small fortune and disrupting the peace – and often leave vendors frustrated by non-payment and the hosts in debt.

From now on, hosts must have written contracts with service providers specifying the number of guests, the terms of payment, the music arrangements, time frames and any other details, according to the new regulations. The rules also prohibit wedding fireworks and large wedding motorcades that block traffic.

"Weddings have become a platform for the hosts to show off," Zukrha Yarasheva, a member of her mahalla (neighbourhood association), told Central Asia Online. "They often go into debt to put on a wedding for 450-500 guests.”

The law comes at the right time, she said, adding that it reminds Uzbeks to think twice about unnecessary spending at weddings or other family celebrations.

"We are talking to the people of our mahalla, and we are trying to convince them that it is unwise to host events where the number of guests exceeds 100-150,” said Aslan Zoirov, a member of the Yangi-Aryk Mahalla. "People spend years saving up the money to put on such events and in doing so deny themselves many things or go into debt.”

Regulations will mean more tax revenue

In addition, vendors must be licensed and everything must be "on the books," meaning appropriate taxes must be paid.

"On the one hand, it [a contract] legitimises the relationship between the customer and the restaurant owner," Olim Mullabayev, who will be celebrating his son’s wedding in a restaurant soon, told Central Asia Online. "But, on the other hand, all of the additional expenses associated with income taxes will fall on the customers’ shoulders."

Restaurant owner Abdukadir Abdurakhmanov admitted that "Beforehand, not all of the money received from the customer went on the books. This was done in order to pay less tax," so he understands the need for the regulations.

And he agreed with Mullabayev that the tax burden will likely be passed on to customers.

Not everyone, though, is happy about the limitations on crowd size.

Tashkent resident Abulfoz Choriyev said if he can afford to throw a wedding for 600 guests he should be able to. "Why are they trying to impose limits on me?" he asked.

But limitations actually are in accord with Islamic values. In 2003, mufti Abdurashid kori Bakhromov, then the chairman of the Spiritual Administration for Muslims of Uzbekistan (SAMU), signed a fatwa condemning excessive spending and waste on weddings, ceremonies and rituals.

"This (wild spending) goes against the precepts of Islam," Haji Abdurazzak Yunusov, deputy chairman of SAMU, explained to Central Asia Online. "None of the holy books says that we should turn a religious ceremony into a luxurious feast."

Too many musicians, too early a start

The event’s musical performers will also have to be licensed and specified in the contract.

Currently, an average of four or five bands and soloists perform at a wedding, Yelena Golikova, a senior manager of an event-planning agency, told Central Asia Online.

From now on, the event may take place in a wedding hall, restaurant or cafe between the hours of 7 and 9am, noon and 2pm, or 6 and 11pm. That regulation puts an end to the habit of serving plov, a traditional rice dish, at 5-6am.

"People are free to make their own decisions about how much they want to spend on an event," Gulnora Yulchiyeva, who works for the nationwide charity Mahalla, said. "Our task is to reason with people, not control them. We want to promote the values of restraint and humility, so that they become the norm."

Chirchik resident Manzura Yuldasheva agrees with the merits of that theory.

"We had a modest wedding and invited only close friends and relatives. We made plov for 100 people and reduced our expenses three-fold,” she said. “With the money we saved, the newlyweds were able to have a holiday abroad."

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Reader Comments

  • It would be better to raise the actors' wages and then require that they have a license. Interesting, what are supposed to do those people who work in the entertainment industry? Companies make many times less than what they could, to say nothing about the artistic aspect, when you can't give the people free reign to imagine and think big. I doubt hanging 3 balls in front of a restaurant will interest anyone. So what, you need to save money and it's really cheap. So what if it's not let them require a license from anyone who sells more than 20 tomatoes a day. Who knows...maybe then people will understand that you can get by without tomatoes and switch to soup made from chicken lips to save money...

    October 28, 2014 @ 12:10:30PM Диана
  • For one thing, alcohol should be banned too.

    December 31, 2012 @ 06:12:25AM rasul
  • That is why there is a law to keep people in check. I think it's time for the rich to reflect on charity. Our people used to be famous for it. When you celebrate a wedding, of course, guests will not be hungry, both people you know and you do not know. I think they should be allowed to invite as many guests in excess of the limit as they want, but let them pay taxes on every extra person to finance orphanages.

    December 31, 2012 @ 02:12:36AM jamshid
  • I am sorry but the situation is very similar to the tobacco and alcohol reform - they banned it only to reverse the ban later.

    December 29, 2012 @ 03:12:23PM rustambe
  • And what if the number of relatives and close friends exceeds 200 people? Should they hold two wedding parties so that no one will be hurt? Although guests do not come there to eat but to look at the couple and witness their wedding...

    December 29, 2012 @ 01:12:56PM мирсаид
  • The ability to be independent in one’s decisions without regard for their neighbors or relatives - that's what matters, and it is my constitutional right how much and how... Maybe, some people need rules where others simply can use their brains.

    December 29, 2012 @ 02:12:46AM Мира из казахстана
  • Osh is very nice in the morning. Pilaf. You can see people you have not seen for years. I think, if one has an opportunity why not to gather people? It’s a pity that in restaurants pilaf used to be at mahala in chayhana. I think now people should be reasonable enough not to get themselves in debt.

    December 29, 2012 @ 02:12:49AM Николай
  • These restrictions and coercion will not make a difference. The common people are holding simpler weddings every year for economic reasons, but it will not affect the officials, it's a no-brainer.

    December 29, 2012 @ 02:12:38AM Salekh
  • That is correct: by saving on a wedding, you can send the newlyweds on vacations. In general, many ask for a smart dowry from the bride. It is also necessary to ban it.

    December 27, 2012 @ 11:12:49PM Dilya
  • I know a family that held a wedding party for their younger son, while the elder son has been working abroad for two years already to pay wedding-related debts. Who needs it?

    December 27, 2012 @ 02:12:40AM аноним
  • The tax authority just does not know who else to tax, and so they came up with the idea to tax weddings. When celebrations take place on public squares, do they also charge taxes? A lot of money is spent on these celebrations!

    December 26, 2012 @ 03:12:22AM саша
  • Karimov has gone completely crazy! We are neighbors, we were there more often than not; terrible poverty, so we must think about it. What does the state have to do with private parties? I understand a move to prohibit every state agency, JSC, etc. from holding parties using trade union dues, for instance, but for city and village residents such a ban is nonsense... The country has censorship, people are afraid to make comments, let alone strike.

    December 22, 2012 @ 04:12:33PM Каусар
  • The resolution is a resolution, but nothing will change. Again, it plays into the hands of restaurant owners who host celebrations - they will find a loophole and pay taxes at common people’s expense. That is why it is now very expensive to rent a restaurant. Gulbakhor.

    December 21, 2012 @ 02:12:11AM Гулбахор
  • The government’s care of ordinary citizens is laudable, but this, in my opinion, is an overt violation of human rights and freedoms.

    December 20, 2012 @ 09:12:14PM kate
  • Hi everyone! In Kazakhstan, we also hold lavish weddings but it is optional. Now, even youths from wealthy families want a European-style wedding when after registration the couples take a trip, or they hold a wedding party with friends and family members. In general, it is clear that parents hold wedding parties for themselves and family members, friends, and endless toasts. My generation is now represented by the parents of children of marriageable age, and most of us hold weddings for the newly married couple’s friends; there are only two toasts made by the grandparents from both sides, and the parents from both sides, and that is it. The rest of those who wish to say something to the young couple are videotaped, and the newly married couple can watch the video later. So, the ban does not solve the problem, you need to change the mentality of the people, starting with the parents of marriageable-age children.

    December 20, 2012 @ 12:12:31PM гульнар алма-ата
  • Listen, haven’t you ever tried to count your money instead of digging into someone else's pocket?! This is a national feature! Secondly, we are not an Islamic state! Thirdly, you should seek to copy the best practices, why do you all cite the example of Tajikistan, why not Europe or Russia, where they celebrate weddings as they like?! And then, since you hold certain posts, think how you can help improve the welfare of the people, and not how to celebrate a wedding - they can manage it without you!

    December 19, 2012 @ 12:12:16PM Наталья
  • A decree is a decree, but it is necessary to act to make sure the officials follow their decree!

    December 17, 2012 @ 08:12:03PM Мамура
  • Originally, the law was adopted in Tajikistan and that is right.

    December 13, 2012 @ 10:12:46PM Мухаммад
  • Dear, that is right. It is high time for the state to take care of us. Think again before you agree. In fact, all services require licenses that push up prices, but most important for the state is the inflow of tax revenues, including for celebrations! The money will not flow to the treasury or an orphanage, but to officials’ pockets. They will use it to pay for their children’s honeymoon. Based on our mentality, each family member has at least 20 relatives and 30 good friends. Multiply this by the number of family members, and you get at least 200! So, think about how to hold a wedding. As for me, I earn and I spend; and mahallya people should not count my money - taxes have been paid.

    December 13, 2012 @ 05:12:08PM шок
  • I think it is the best decision to regulate the wedding cost, becouse many people wasting their many for it.Look Tajiks ,they did perfect!

    December 13, 2012 @ 09:12:32AM zarifa
  • Then, we will be counting guests at our house! They would better let people make money.

    December 13, 2012 @ 09:12:12AM 111
  • People in Tajikistan saved $2 billion in two years. So, this is right, it is necessary to restrict people from having huge weddings.

    December 11, 2012 @ 09:12:41PM Nostra
  • At least 250 people, this is perfectly average.

    December 11, 2012 @ 02:12:09PM кувватов шухрат
  • We need to change the mentality instead of imposing rules for celebrations. If one can afford it, let him/her have it; if one cannot, s/he would not. But as for the fact that everyone wants to be better than the neighbor... I'm better! I will sell my last pants to do even better! That's what needs to be changed. People's mentality. But how can you explain it to them? You cannot talk to the wall, while the clever understands everything.

    December 11, 2012 @ 06:12:51AM Chex
  • I am opposed to it. People know how much they can spend on a wedding.

    December 11, 2012 @ 04:12:15AM Akerke
  • This is disgusting! These rules should apply mainly to those, for whom such a wedding is like buying a bottle of water, i.e. the officials! They are the ones who seek big celebrations to impress everyone, and then they divorce very quickly! A wedding should be a kind of dream come true for the bride and a groom, and their parents! Besides, what does a ban mean for those who can afford a superwedding? They do not need to worry - they can celebrate it abroad! So, people do not worry! It will be exactly as writ large on our faces!

    December 11, 2012 @ 04:12:12AM нилюша
  • I believe that you only have one marriage in your life, and if someone wants a lavish wedding, then let them have it. Those who do not want such a wedding, would not arrange it even without this law, and the law has nothing to do with people’s living standards. They just want restaurants hosting these celebrations to pay more taxes. What do you think, who will actually pay these taxes? Customers themselves. I think that this law is superfluous. Each person has his or her own dream about this. If we cannot have a normal wedding, why were we born and why do we live then?

    December 9, 2012 @ 02:12:11AM анонимка
  • The full text of the decree says that you have the right to hold your wedding only in 148 restaurants approved by the Tashkent hokim, invite only one singer or a band registered with Uzbeknavo, and order photo or video services only from licensed companies. That is likely to triple your expenses. Who issues licenses? What do you think? To rent a restaurant, you must provide photocopies of the passport, the marriage registration certificate, an application, full contact information and a lot of stuff. Sign a lease contract specifying the exact number of guests. Then, women from mahalla will come to your house and start sniffing around and give stupid advice on cheap bridesmaid dress rent from their friend’s shop. And during the wedding, a fat man will stand and headcount guests. That's why people are outraged. If you publish an article, write everything, and not only what you find convenient.

    December 9, 2012 @ 12:12:15AM Irina
  • The Deal not in luxurious weddings Matter of fact that young were lucky in lifes. The Luxurious wedding or modest all are forgotten since time. This is done therefor that people did not get into debts that to conduct the luxurious weddings, After all life and so not light.

    December 7, 2012 @ 12:12:27PM Furkat

    December 6, 2012 @ 11:12:44PM ЁДГОРИДИН
  • Everyone has dreams about a wedding! If someone wants a big wedding, let them have it! Why impose restrictions?!

    December 3, 2012 @ 09:12:09AM Muxammad
  • I believe that the officials should not count people’s money. If they want a wedding for 500 people, let them have it. It is the freedom of choice! They have not yet taxed the amount of inhaled air! In general, the officials did a stupid thing.

    December 2, 2012 @ 10:12:39AM VIP
  • That's right. Don't do israf.

    December 2, 2012 @ 09:12:42AM luiza
  • We should also introduce it. People in Kazakhstan used to borrow money to invite 100, or 150-200, or better 300-400 guests. They should better helped the young couple to buy something.

    November 30, 2012 @ 01:11:34PM мухит
  • Still, Tashkent residents hold lush weddings; kelin salom also takes place at weddings, and some even on the next day. Unfortunately, after the wedding our Uzbeks will be hungry or in debt, but they will still have a magnificent wedding and later blame the bride for having spent so much money.

    November 30, 2012 @ 09:11:14AM hulkar
  • That's right. The reforms are needed to improve people’s lives. There is also an opinion: In the morning, if you come as a welcomed guest, they give you one platter of pilaff for two people. You may share the platter with a stranger like you. So, you have to share the platter with the stranger and you do not know if the person is ok or may have some disease. The person can take a piece of meat with his or her spoon and offer it to you as a courtesy to show respect, and you have to accept it. You cannot refuse it or leave pilaff on the platter because this would be a sign of disrespect. Is there a guarantee that you will not get infected? Isn't it time to change it? What do epidemiological centers think about it?

    November 29, 2012 @ 03:11:45PM Nnnnnnn
  • Soon, they will regulate the defecation and urination process :)))

    November 27, 2012 @ 04:11:07AM Критик
  • Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

    November 25, 2012 @ 11:11:33AM 11
  • What do Islamic values have to do with a secular state?? Non-respected Shakar Saadi, you’d better think before posting your scribbled lines on the Internet! Read and think, and then think again!

    November 23, 2012 @ 05:11:41AM алишер
  • That's right, extra costs are not needed.

    November 21, 2012 @ 12:11:50AM баходурхон
  • If there is a method in this khashar, then it is very typical of the nation.

    November 19, 2012 @ 09:11:21AM тими
  • The law should be implemented not only within the same region but in the whole country; not just weddings but other events must also be within the law. We have the law in Tajikistan, and people were very happy following its introduction. You’d better come and learn from us.

    November 19, 2012 @ 04:11:26AM Санъат
  • That's right!

    November 17, 2012 @ 10:11:25AM jamshid
  • Finally, they have learned from the Kyrgyz.

    November 16, 2012 @ 09:11:13AM Тарантул
  • It is high time to follow Tajikistan, because look at the weddings and performers -it is just extra cost. The same was in Tajikistan but people got used to it, and it would be better to help the young couples instead of wasting money.

    November 16, 2012 @ 12:11:12AM бахром
  • I welcome the government’s decision because the government takes care of us to make sure we are not wasting our money. Farid

    November 14, 2012 @ 08:11:02PM Farida
  • And now we do not decide what to do, and when and how many hours.

    November 12, 2012 @ 04:11:52PM rab
  • A very good and timely directive. Grand wedding expenses and literal adherence to the unwritten customs out of fear of being labelled Joneses is a real scourge of our country. Better use these assets and funds to help the young in the first months of life, because after such a massive and expensive wedding the bride went home with all of her possessions and gave birth to a child without the father. Why are they boasting? There is a wedding but no life.

    November 12, 2012 @ 06:11:12AM к.