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Uzbek Wedding Singers Protest New Limits

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Uzbek singers are expressing their unhappiness over a law limiting the number of performers at marriage ceremonies.

The measure is part of new rules aimed at cutting back big spending at the often huge wedding events.

Several Uzbek stars have spoken out on social media against the curbs on weddings.
Several Uzbek stars have spoken out on social media against the curbs on weddings.

Uzbekistan's parliament passed the law in September. It limits the number of musical groups performing at weddings to just two. Other restrictions include limiting the number of guests invited and vehicles used to transport members of the wedding party.

Like other Central Asian countries, weddings in Uzbekistan often have hundreds of guests. Several different musicians often perform at celebrations after the marriage ceremony. Such big events can use up a family's savings or even put it deep in debt.

The new legislation in Uzbekistan hopes to reduce the financial hardship for families.

Source of Income for Dozens

Several well-known Uzbek singers took to social media to protest the restrictions. They point out that their work at weddings creates income that supports not only the performer, but other people.

On Instagram, singer Munisa Rizaeva explained in a video how several families use the money she earns at weddings.

Rizaeva said she charges $800 just to perform four songs at a wedding reception. From that amount she pays a total of $450 to members of her group. They include six musicians, two administrators, two drivers and two bodyguards. All these people have 36 family members between them, her message said.

Rizaeva said that she is left with $350 for her day's work at just one wedding. However, she said, she must share her money with 41 other people who help her write songs, produce videos, and help organize her television and radio appearances.

'My earnings benefit nearly 150 people per month,' Rizaeva told her more than 3.1 million Instagram followers.

Another singer, Ozoda Nursaidova, has more than 1 million followers on Instagram. She noted that well-known Uzbek singers provide income for many people.

Nursaidova wrote that she charges $1,000 to perform five songs at a wedding. She employs seven musicians, two drivers and an administrator who, in total, have 30 family members.

The singer said she pays the group $400. That leaves her with $600, which she then shares with 18 other people, including songwriters and video producers.

Sharp cuts

The new rules on weddings and private social events limit the number of guests to 250, with up to three cars permitted in the wedding motorcade.

That represents a big change for many Uzbeks. Because this is a country where it is normal to invite at least 400 guests and have a long motorcade of costly cars for the newlyweds and their friends.

Families often save for many years or borrow from relatives to throw the huge wedding banquets. President Shavkat Mirziyoev has criticized such celebrations as shameless spending.

In 2018, he said, 'Instead of spending [for wasteful parties], you had better paint the home of a poor man or buy a TV set for his family.'

With jobs hard to get, millions of Uzbeks work as laborers in Russia and many other countries.

The weddings and other private gatherings -- such as funerals and birthday parties -- put pressure on many families in Uzbekistan, where the average wage is about $250 a month.

Neighboring Tajikistan has also banned huge weddings and other private parties. People who violate the ban are punished.

I'm Anne Ball.

Farangis Najibullah wrtoe this story based on reporting by Shukhrat Bobojon from RFE/RL's Uzbek Service. Anne Ball adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

What kind of weddings are normal in your country? What do you think of this story? Write to us in the comments section below.

Words in This Story

guest – n. a person who is invited to a place or an event as a special honor

income – n. money that is earned from work, investments, business

benefit – n. a good or helpful result or effect

motorcade – n. a group or line of cars or other vehicles that travel together

lavish – adj. giving or using a large amount of something

banquet – n. a formal dinner for many people usually to celebrate a special event

shameless – adj. having or showing no shame

TV set – n. an electronic device that receives television signals and displays them on a screen

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