50 Hindu couples tie the knot in mass wedding

Couples in colouful traditional attire for brides and grooms take part in a mass wedding here on Friday. — White Star

 

KARACHI: Any couple would get the jitters at the prospect of starting a new life together and at the YMCA Ground on Friday there were 50 such couples.

The arrival time for the couples given to them by Pakistan Hindu Council, the organisers, was 5pm and yet all had not arrived till 9pm.

One had to be careful to take small steps through the crowd rushing to the various wedding mandup or there was danger of stepping on someone’s saree.

All brides looked lovely in their heavily embroidered saree while some of the bridegrooms wore such a heavy sehra that they were simply blinded by it and needed assistance in finding their way.

Each mandup decorated with marigold garlands had a table in the centre with a bowl of butter, some water, rice, incense sticks, dried coconut, sindhoor, some wood in a thaal of flour to be set alight later for the couples to walk around the agni (fire).

There was a model wedding taking place on the stage that was also being shown on big screens put up in the ground with directions of what to do being given out on the microphone. One father was so nervous that he was following himself all the instructions meant for the groom until a volunteer stepped in to help set things right.

There was Harilal, who had come all the way from Hyderabad to marry Devi from Karachi and the couple were seeing each other for the first time. There were Jyoti and Pritam, too, who knew each other well and looked thrilled to bits at finally tying the knot.

A few couples were happily running around holding hands as they went from mandup to mandup. “We got married here at the same place only last year and this is our first wedding anniversary,” said Kiran and Anil from Ibrahim Hyderi. “It brings back so many memories,” they added.

But for Laxmi and Vijay, another couple who also got married last year, and new parents of a month-old boy, Vivan, it was a bittersweet moment. “We had twins, a boy and a girl. But our daughter Vinita died three days after birth,” said Vijay carrying his son in his arms as his wife watched.

“The couples all come from poor families who cannot afford to throw a big wedding so they send applications to be wed at a mass wedding here,” said Bhim Raj, a senior volunteer and member of Pakistan Hindu Council. “I’ve been volunteering here for three years now and feel so happy about it,” he said.

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, patron-in-chief of the council, said that mass weddings were preferred for economic and social reasons across the globe.

“Here in our country, the council takes pride in having been organising the weddings on an annual basis since 2008 when 20 couples got married, with the collaboration of other charitable groups as a form of public service.”

Last year 100 couples were wed at the same place but Dr Ramesh said that they were only getting 50 couples married this time due to security reasons. “Since we are getting so many applications from other cities of Sindh, especially Tandojam, we decided to hold those weddings there instead of bringing the couples here,” he said. “Still, I’ll perform the kanyadaan for all, after getting the approval from the couples’ parents of course,” he smiled.

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