79 Hindu couples tie the knot in mass wedding

Published January 7, 2019
The couples from cities located from Sanghar to Karachi wait to be united in holy matrimony during the Hindu mass wedding on Sunday.—Photo by writer
The couples from cities located from Sanghar to Karachi wait to be united in holy matrimony during the Hindu mass wedding on Sunday.—Photo by writer

KARACHI: As Ashok from Badin, who looked like a happy school child, told a journalist that he was not as young as he looked and in fact was 19 years old, Kavita, his wife to be, could be heard giggling behind her veil. She said she was 21 and older, which should give her the right to order her husband around after they were married.

Next to them sat another couple of Harish and Pooja. Harish said he was Ashok’s cousin. And Yashoda, the woman in a pretty white sari with red embroidery, hovering over both couples seemed the happiest as she explained that since one boy in their family was getting married with the help of the Pakistan Hindu Council, they decided to take advantage of the opportunity and get the younger boy married too.

Ashok and Kavita and Harish and Pooja were only two of the 79 poor Hindu couples from all over Sindh getting married in a mass wedding organised by the Pakistan Hindu Council at the Railway Ground here on Sunday.

The couples and their families had been brought over to Karachi in coasters for the mass wedding from various cities of Sindh. Besides the wedding dress for the bride and clothes for the groom, each couple was presented a gold jewellery set and mangal suttar with other household items such as a dinner set, sewing machine, electric iron, sandwich maker, table fan, television set, fridge, juicer and a wall clock. They were also given the choice to accept a gift card worth Rs40,000 instead of the household items.

“We do this every year for the happiness of our poor children,” Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, founder and patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council, told Dawn. “And through this beautiful mass wedding full of colour and the happy faces of our young, we want to send a message of peace and love to countries which are under the impression that minorities in Pakistan are not free to live life as they please,” he added before finding his place on the stage, or mandhap, to give his blessings, or do kanyadaan, at the fire ceremony.

Beside the little fire, or agni, the priest (pujari) there for conducting the wedding on the stage had before him some rice, a coconut, pomegranate, some betel leaves, water, etc for rituals. He was going to conduct one wedding on the stage, that of the lucky couple of Vijay and Lakshmi, which the other couples could watch on the big screens provided near them to follow. Finally, the couples were asked by him to stand up and make seven rounds around the agni.

It was noticed that during the first three rounds the bride was in the front followed by the groom. But it all changed during the fourth round as she came behind the groom to follow him. “That’s how it is in our part of the world. The wife is expected to obey and follow her husband,” Paman Lal Rathi, joint secretary of the Pakistan Hindu Council, told Dawn. Among the other 78 couples following the pujari’s commands below one could also spot Kavita willingly following behind her younger husband Ashok.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2019

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