Khost: With popularity of group weddings increasing in parts of the country amid growing wedding costs, the tribal elders in Tanai district of eastern Khost province have found a new solution to pricey weddings.

The new agreement finalized by 400 tribal elders and religious scholars set a ceiling of $5,000 on the bride-price, which includes gold jewelry not to weigh more than 64 gram. Anyone breaching the agreement could face penalties including being ostracized as per the new tradition, Khaama Press reported.

 A tribal elder Haji Hakim Wali told Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) “No one will agree to dig a grave for them when they die.” Wali further added “No one will attend their weddings. No one will ask after their health. They will be expelled from village and tribe.

Those who violate the rule will also have to pay a fine of 2,000 dollars to the tribe.” With clerics playing a major role in codifying the agreement that took several years to finalize, a religious scholar, Maulavi Sanaullah Rahmanzai, said “Imams would not officiate at religious ceremonies held by offenders, who would find themselves with no one to officiate at weddings, funerals and other ceremonies.”

 Another tribal elder, Haji Gulajan, said the step was taken after the community had been left with little choice, but to clamp down on the inflated costs. He said “We had to do it, because young girls were left at home and no one courted them.

The high bride-prices meant there were no engagement ceremonies and no weddings.” The bride-price, plus the cost of engagement and marriage ceremonies which the groom’s family is expected to cover, can total between 10,000 and 20,000 US dollars a lot of money in a low-income society.

However, the story in capital Kabul is different where a single rental of a wedding hall costs on average 10,000 to 20,000 US Dollars. This does not include the expensive dowries expected of the groom’s family, or the costs of the traditional henna party or the engagement party

It’s not just the hiring of the wedding halls which costs Afghan couples a fortune, the bride’s dress is pricey too. Most brides begin the big day wearing a green dress. This can cost from 100 to 700 dollars. For the ceremony, they’ll often rent a white dress for anything up to 2,000. And that’s to rent.