'Will I ever get married?' – Azerbaijan's Covid-19 wedding ban
Azerbaijan has banned public events, including weddings, starting March 14, 2020.
Weddings have already been banned in the past 10 months. Now, many couples have no choice but to wait for the day when they can get married.
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One woman waiting for the date of her wedding, Lamia Abdulkerimova, told JAMnews about the difficulties she has to face.
According to her, according to Azerbaijani traditions, marriage without a wedding is not welcome. Because before the wedding itself, you have to go through several stages: betrothal, pre-wedding traditions, collecting dowries, etc.
“Believe me, families keep lists of everyone who donated how much money at the wedding, how many people from a particular family came to the wedding, how many tables were occupied, whether the costs of each separate table paid off,” says Lamia.
She adds that despite the main role of parents in matters of weddings, everyone wants something special for themselves on this day, which happens once in a lifetime:
“Sooner or later, the quarantine will end, we are waiting for this, there is no hurry. Those who can’t wait are in trouble or have been engaged for quite some time. Their plans for the wedding did not come true. But this does not mean that they will not get married. Even if there is an official marriage, after the wedding halls start working, many of these couples will get married. Even if they themselves do not want it, the relatives will demand a wedding.”
Lamia Abdulkerimova has been engaged for over six months. During the days of quarantine, they organized a betrothal ceremony with the participation of only the closest relatives. But for the engagement ceremony, they are waiting for the quarantine regime to be relaxed.
“We can say that we have no time left. If there is no engagement before spring, then in the summer my fiancé must go into the army. So we will have to wait another year. And after the army, there will probably be no need for betrothal, and we will immediately have a wedding. I hope that at least until then, the pandemic will end and everyone will be released.”
Divorce rates are on the rise
The quarantine period is not easy for couples, not only because of the “official” component, but also purely psychologically. They cannot meet, spend time together, as a result of which over the past 10-11 months many couples have separated. Along with this, the number of divorces has increased.
According to official statistics, 32,437 marriages and 13,349 divorces were registered in Azerbaijan in 2020. In other words, more than 40% of all married people got divorced. This is a very large figure for Azerbaijan.
From the point of view of young people, Lamia notes that quarantine has a bad effect on their state of mind and leaves a mark on each of them.
“Because of nerves and stress, we fight with everyone. Naturally, there is a partner among those with whom we fight. Many of my family friends divorced during the quarantine period. There is nothing to blame them for, everyone is already tired. To summarize the topic, I do not want to get married in such a situation. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event and should be special for me.”
Lamia also added that many families in Azerbaijan do not like being in debt to anyone, and do not like when someone owes them. Everyone wants to give their debt for the weddings in which they took part: “This is so from time immemorial.”
Even musicians are protesting
The fact that, despite repeated easing of the quarantine regime, the ban on weddings remains in force, has led to a protest from the musicians. Note that weddings are the main earning point of most musicians in Azerbaijan.
Singer Elnara Khalilova wrote on her Facebook page:
“At this rate, weddings will be allowed in the month of maharram, and no one will be able to get married again.” [The month of maharram is considered a mourning month and the majority in Azerbaijan during this period do not organize any serious events – JAMnews.]
Singer Niyam Salami also expressed his protest over the quarantine:
“We cannot pay rent. People are dying of hunger. What should singers do? I don’t know where to run. How can we live while living on this land?!”
Punishment for a wedding
Despite all the bans, some Azerbaijanis still decided to hold weddings and were punished for it.
They were fined in accordance with a special article of the Code of Administrative Offenses.
One of the biggest scandals of 2020 in Azerbaijan was also related to a wedding. The wedding of the granddaughter of the former head of the presidential administration of Azerbaijan, Ramiz Mehdiyev, ended with the arrest for 15 days of his son-in-law, former deputy Ilham Aliyev.
After some time, Ramiz Mehdiyev also left his post.