Unmarried men in Ijara, Garissa County, are heaving a sigh of relief after religious leaders set new rules on how much one would spend on bride price and wedding ceremonies in a bid to tame 'extravagant show-offs'.
Young men had petitioned the clerics and elders, claiming current financial demands on prospective grooms were punitive and that groomsmen were being extorted.
They said they were growing old as they looked for money to afford a wedding, while others had resorted to marrying outside the community.
"It's a trend that has scared away our youth from marrying, leaving marriage exercises to the elderly who have made money and can afford half-a-million shillings bride price," said Abdikadir Dahir.
Muslim clerics have now taken up the matter as they move to tame the costs.
The leaders have set 13 new conditions for members of the Ijara community who want to marry or get married.
For bride price, a groom is required to give four cows or an equivalent of Sh60,000, while house furniture must not exceed a dressing mirror, wardrobe, bed and cooking utensils.
Further, the elders set the wedding proposal budget limit at Sh30,000, and bride’s clothes cost should not exceed Sh20,000.
Also, the leaders have dismissed the use of US dollars in bride price payment, terming it showing off, which is discouraged in the Koran.
Bride preparation costs have been cut down from Sh7,000 to Sh3,000.
In cases where the bride's new home is situated outside Ijara, the elders have set the number of her escorts to only two people, balking the trend where anyone could join the bride at her home as per their wish.
A maximum of Sh10,000 will be given to the mother-in-law (bride’s mother) for wedding preparation expenses and four goats for the marriage feast.
No photography would be allowed during the nuptials (nikah) with the convoy to the ceremony reduced to only two cars.
Exeptions to the new rules have only been allowed where an individual may want to reduce the costs further.
The Ijara leaders reiterated that anyone who breaks the new conditions would be cursed.
The rules have already caused an uproar, especially among the wealthy families and women, who have termed them unfair.
This is not the first town in Garissa to set new rules for marriages. Last month, religious leaders and elders of Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab set similar conditions, saying, it would tame show-offs and wastage.
The Ijara new wedding rules are set to take effect on December 1, 2019.