All her life, Feruza dreamed of her wedding day, when, hand-in-hand with her husband-to-be, she would ascend Sulaiman Too, the sacred hill in the center of Osh. A boisterous gaggle of snap-happy friends and a videographer would follow the couple. Atop the “holy mountain” she would ask for a blessing and good fortune, as local custom dictates, before descending in her white gown for the marriage ceremony and a wild two-day party.
Spring is a time for weddings in Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere in Central Asia. But in Osh, scene of ethnic violence last year that left over 400 dead, many Uzbeks say they are too afraid to hold a big celebration. Citing harassment and extortion by ethnic Kyrgyz bureaucrats, some are even avoiding officially registering their marriages. This reluctance to engage with officialdom can potentially deprive some Uzbek women of their rights in the future.
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