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Humanities in English - Student Research Project

In Fall semester 2020, the Humanities in English (HiE) launched its new pilot research project for students. The mini research aimed at laying the foundation for developing advanced research skills in HiE cohrort.

The topic of the research was “Marriage as an Institution in Tajikistan. Changes and Continuities”. The students were merged to form new teams that focused on three areas: Planning the Marriage, The Wedding Ceremonies, and Post-Marriage life. Each team consisted of about five to seven people. For the methodology, the students used interviewing, observation, focus group and netnography. For having an appropriate scope, the research focused on the periods before and after 2000. The students found and compared the changes. which took place in these three areas in the contemporary era and before 21st century. Moreover, students explored the reasons behind the significant changes. Upon completion of the research, the students prepared presentations on their findings and submitted short report papers.

The purpose of dividing the research in three phases was to understand the diverse interpretations related to the customs of marriage. Research methods included online surveys, individual interviews and focus group discussions.

The focus groups were organized to get expert opinions from diverse individuals including Registry Office, an NGO (OSCE), the Ministry of Religion, community members, and the Academy of Sciences. Focus group moderators were chosen from the students.

In total, 16 students participated in the research.


  • Shift in customs arise with the demand of time based on economic, ecological and political factors.
  • Tanzim – the law on Regulation of Traditions, Celebrations, and Ceremonies is one of the main factors that introduced changes for economic reasons limiting some of the customs and practices related to marriage activities.
  • Nowadays, legal state registration (загс) and religious registration (nikoh) are organized in one place, while in the past, the religious registration was held at the bride’s house.
  • During the Soviet rule, registering the marriage was considered more important than Nikah, however, after the collapse, Nikah became more significant. With new laws implemented, ceremonies without registration are controlled.
  • Marriage requires Mullah during the Nikah ceremony, and can take place with just the presence of few individuals.
  • Lack of understanding about the importance of Nikah leads to more divorce cases. Women are often left unsupported after divorce especially due to the practice of polygamy. Men often do not register their second marriage.
  • Weddings differ by traditions, customs, and ceremonies around Tajikistan.
  • Different regions of Tajikistan have inherited their traditions from their ancestors.
  • Earlier, bride and groom had two witnesses during the wedding ceremony, however, they just have one now on each side.
  • The significance of marriage as a union for life has faded away with time.
  • Nowadays, marriage ceremonies lead people under loans and debts.
  • Until 2000s, there were no restrictions on wedding practices. Then, there were many prohibitions enforced including fines, and the country adopted new rules and regulation to carry wedding events. For example, Tanzim limits headcount in wedding and the expenditure on ceremonies.
  • Polygamy is practiced in Tajikistan despite the prohibition of Law.
  • Research suggests that there is a practice Gahvorabakhs, where parents can decide the marriage between a girl and a boy at the age of their emancipation. Based on another tradition Miyonravi, relatives could decide for the marriage between boy and girl, however, later parents became responsible, Nowadays, elder brother have taken over the responsibility. 
  • The number of arranged marriages has dropped sharply after 2000. Majority of the marriages take place with the will of bride and groom. However, arrange marriage does exist in rural areas. 
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