Article Tajikistan: Law Prescribes Observation of National Traditions

(Apr. 2, 2018) On March 12, 2018, members of the Tajikistani legislature approved amendments to the Law of Tajikistan on Regulating Traditions, Celebrations, and Rituals in the Republic of Tajikistan. (Law of the Republic of Tajikistan No. 272 of June 8, 2007, Spinform website (in Russian) (by subscription).) Provisions of this Law, which allow government, military, and law-enforcement employees to be dismissed from service if they or their family members violate this Law, were extended to include those who serve in the Tajik Internal Troops, a special military detachment similar to the US National Guard. (Avaz Yuldashev, Amendments Concerning Internal Troops Added to Law on Regulating Traditions, ASIA-PLUS NEWS AGENCY (Mar. 12, 2018) (in Russian).)

This new provision is the most recent addition to the Law, which was significantly changed last summer. The Law was originally passed in 2007. As was officially explained, the purpose of this Law was to limit funds and resources Tajiks spend on celebrating religious rites and family festivities. In the opinion of the president, who introduced this Law originally, spending too much on celebrations undermines the economic welfare of the population and leaves many families in destitute. (Office of the Tajikistani President, Commentaries on the Changes and Amendments to the Law on Regulating Traditions (Aug. 11, 2017) (in Russian), Office of the Tajikistani President’s website.)

In order to prevent excessive spending on family celebrations and festivities, the revised Law established new rules for conducting weddings, funerals, and celebrations of child births, specifically the circumcision procedure. (Law of the Republic of Tajikistan No. 1461 of August 28, 2017 (in Russian), Spinform website (by subscription).)

Concerning conduct at weddings, the Law limits the number of guests to 200 people and states that the wedding celebration cannot be longer than three hours. Weddings must be held between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. during working days and from 8 a.m. through 10 p.m. on weekends. Responsibility for following the rules was extended to include the owners and administrators of the places where celebrations are conducted (e.g., restaurants, club houses) in addition to the organizers of the wedding. The Law prohibits celebrating engagements and performing some specific ethnic rites, such as the revealing of the bride’s face (betashar) or placing barriers on the way of the wedding procession in order to get ransom. The Law recommends replacing the rehearsal dinner with spending money equal to the cost of the dinner for the welfare of the marrying couple. (Id. art. 10.)

Funerals, according to the new Law, should be conducted without offering food to the attendees and without slaughtering animals. Similar rules apply to remembrance celebrations of departed persons, usually conducted on the third and fortieth days after the death and again on the first death anniversary. Families conducting these events should inform local authorities charged with the duty to monitor the implementation of the Law. (Id. art. 11.)

Regarding the celebration of a child’s birth, the Law states that circumcisions must be performed within twenty days after the birth in certified medical establishments free of charge and celebrations should be kept to the nuclear family members without inviting professional performers. This and other traditional child-related celebrations (e.g., first placing in the crib, first haircut) should be conducted without animal slaughter. If a family does not have means for celebrating, another person or a legal entity may provide support as an act of charity. (Id. art. 8.)

Violations of this Law are recognized as misdemeanors and prosecuted by heavy fines.

All events should be conducted in the state language, which is Tajik, and people should “demonstrate respect for the national dress,” a provision which some observers believe was introduced to restrict the use of Islamic religious attire. (Commentaries on the Changes and Amendments to the Law on Regulating Traditions; State Women’s Committee Clarifies What Makes Tajik Traditional Dress, SPUTNIK (July 20, 2017) (in Russian).)

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