Society and norms – Family and Family Life: Marriage

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Marriages are typically arranged by the family in Afghanistan.  The marriage is typically the first contact the bride and groom have with anyone of the opposite sex who is not related to them.  Due to the close bonds among extended family, marriage between second and even first cousins is quite common.

Marriage is expected of everyone and children belong to their father's family. Women do not join their husband's tribe or clan unless they are already a member. Marriage among first cousins is common, as is polygamy, which is allowed under Islam. The topic of arranged marriages is controversial only to Westerners. It is quite commonplace in tribal societies around the world, and is a way to strengthen political alliances and build family wealth. This is not to say that domestic abuse is not a problem in Afghanistan, and one that they are still trying to work out within their religious and cultural system.

Weddings are a time for great celebration and can last for three days in the rural areas, with the expense borne by the groom’s family. On the first day the bride’s family travels to the groom’s house (but not the bride) to get to know the family. On the following day the groom leads a procession on horseback (in the country) or in a car (in the city) to the bride’s house, accompanied by musicians and dancers. Rifles are fired at intervals along the route. On the third day there is the wedding feast back at the groom’s house, with singing, dancing and various games played. The bride arrives at the groom’s house in the evening, just before the ceremony, on either horseback or in the groom’s car. By contrast, in the cities weddings are usually just one day, with the feasting and marriage ritual taking place at a restaurant.[1]


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