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Wedding Crashers – Who Are These People?

When Shafiqullah walked into his wedding celebration in Kabul, Afghanistan, he was surprised to find 600 extra people in the room, none of whom he recognized. His original guest list had numbered about 700 people. Besides the guests on his bride’s side, he invited “my cousins; my neighbors, people from my village, and 100 to 150 colleagues.”

But among the 1,300 gathered, he strained to pick them out from the strangers. He said, “It was amazing, but also disturbing as these were people I had never seen before in my entire life.” Still, he knew his obligations. He said, “If I didn’t serve them, it would have caused me dishonor and taken away all happiness from my wedding day.”

So, he told the caterers at the wedding hall to double the food order, bringing the cost of his wedding to nearly $30,000—a small fortune in this impoverished country. It is a familiar tale in Afghanistan, where weddings are vital demonstrations of two tightly held values: commitment to hospitality and devotion to family and community.

But the strain of having to host a party the size of a small village is proving ruinous for many young Afghan men, who find themselves taking out loans to get married that will take years to pay back.

The crowds that stream into Kabul’s wedding halls each night have given rise to a subculture of “toi paal”—wedding crashers who show up in droves. They are uninvited men who hang around the stretch of the airport road that has been nicknamed “Las Vegas,” for the bright neon lights and mirrored glass of the wedding halls.

Because weddings are generally segregated by gender, usually by huge partitions, the draw is not the opportunity to meet women so much as it is the banquet fare of lamb, chicken, lamb pilaf, yogurt, fruit, and pudding. Most young men in Kabul seem to know the expression, “With a wedding every night, there is no need to go hungry.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Uninvited wedding guests were also mentioned in a parable of Jesus. Only invited guests are welcome at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. All who come into the wedding banquet must come according to God’s rules. No “wedding-crashers” are allowed.

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