In the Middle East there’s a veritable boom in marriage these days. Many couples are tying the knot in mass weddings, such as one presided over recently by the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Rai.

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The Maronite Church is one of 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. According to Jesuit Fr. Steven Hawkes-Teeples’s “Eastern Christians and Their Churches,” the Maronite tradition is “the Christian way of life that first developed in the valley of the Orontes River in present-day south-eastern Turkey around the monastery founded by Saint Maron. The community later settled in Lebanon. It is one of three ancient traditions expressed in the Syriac language.”

Today, about 36% of the Lebanese population is Christian, mostly Maronite. The Times explains that, “in a region where marriage remains highly valued but economic pressures and costly celebrations have priced many couples out, powerful benefactors have stepped in, sponsoring large-scale ceremonies to make sure that young people get hitched.”

Lebanon, which is facing a civil war after the 2006 war with Israel, is currently going through an economic recession. The economic downturn there has become so prevalent that people no longer have the money to marry themselves. Perhaps the result of this is that the trend of mass marriages has increased in many countries of West Asia including Lebanon. If we talk about the last one month, then there were big events of four mass weddings.

In this, 116 couples were mass married. The most surprising thing among the marriages was that some of these marriages were given money by the Shia-backed militant group Hezbollah. Due to which such speculations are being made that they want to strengthen their organization by supporting these marriages. They want children born to these couples to be armed fighters.

It is not that only the government is coming forward in getting such marriages done, but foreigners are also coming forward in getting such marriages done. Governments in some countries such as the UAE, Turkey and the Palestinians are also supporting these marriages.

The wedding organizers are also providing many facilities to the couples. The bride and groom are not only given wedding dresses, but everything related to their wedding such as wedding cards, photos, flowers are also spent. Also, each couple is given 2 thousand dollars (about 1 lakh 42 thousand rupees) in cash.